(Photo: Barnabas Aid)
The Syrian uprising against President Bashir al-Assad, which began almost a year ago, has put families in the region in serious danger, and Christians trapped in the crossfire are in critical need of help, a charity organization says.
The uprising began last March when Syrians initiated protests against the regime of President Assad, hoping to end five decades of Arab Socialist Ba'athist rule in the country. Since August, the government crackdown on dissidents has progressively gotten worse and with a recent Arab League pullout, some analysts have suggested that the country is on the brink of civil war.
The large-scale government crackdown on rebels and the ongoing protests despite the violence has already resulted in many casualties, and a report by UNICEF revealed that 384 children, victims of crossfire between rebels and army forces, have died since last year.
"We see almost certain crimes against humanity. The lack of agreement in the Security Council does not give the government license to continue this assault on its own people. The longer we debate, the more people will die,'' said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Thursdays in Vienna, commenting on Assad's assault against civilians, Voice of America reported.
The U.N. General Assembly approved Thursday a resolution condemning human rights violations in Syria and called for an end to the violence, BBC reported. The General Assembly-approved resolution endorses the Arab League plan for President Bashir al-Assad to step down.
Christian families, who make up about two million, or 10 percent of the total Syrian population, are trapped in villages with little access to food and other basic supplies, and are in desperate need of urgent assistance, Barnabas Aid said.
The charity organization is one of the very few Christian aid agencies helping Christians in Syria at this time and is working to get families the urgent supplies they need.
Katharine C. Gorka, Executive Director of Barnabas Aid, shared with The Christian Post some direct information about the urgent situation Christians in the region find themselves in.
As fighting intensifies from both sides, Christians in the surrounding villages – approximately 100,000 – are right in front of the firing line, many of them trapped in the city of Homs, Gorka said.
Entire families are being evacuated, and are desperate for food and basic needs. Prices have risen, supplies are running low, and it is often too dangerous to go out in search of food. Even in some parts of the country that are not directly affected by violence, there is inflation of 30-50 percent, while in Homs itself some prices have tripled.
One representative of the organization who has spoken with Syrian priests in the area disclosed the immediate dangers facing Christians living there:
"The armed Islamist Opposition in Syria has murdered more than 200 Christians in the city of Homs, including entire families with young children. These Islamic gangs kidnapped Christians and demanded high ransoms. In two cases, after the ransoms were paid, the men's bodies were found.
"Christians are being forced to flee the city to the safety of government controlled areas. Muslim rebel fighters and their families are taking over their homes. We need your prayers and we need them urgently."
It is not just children and their families who are in direct danger – priests have also been killed, sometimes while helping wounded victims.
Last month, Syrian News Agency SANA reported that an armed terrorist group assassinated Priest Basilios Nassa, from the Damascus countryside village of Kfarbaham, as he was aiding an injured man in Jarajima. The head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Abdulrazak Jbero, was also shot dead on Wednesday in the northern town of Idlib at the hands of an armed terrorist group, SANA added.
The Christian community in Syria at large has also been hit by a series of kidnappings and brutal murders; 100 Christians have now been killed since the anti-government unrest began.
A reliable source in the country, who cannot be identified for their own safety, told Barnabas Aid that children were being especially targeted by the kidnappers, who, if they do not receive the ransom demanded, kill the victim.
"I have just returned from the Middle East, where I met with many Syrian pastors and church leaders. Our brothers and sisters in Syria are in a desperate state, facing the daily struggle of trying to get enough food to feed their families while war rages all around them," Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund said in a statement.
"And they are also understandably anxious about how this conflict is going to end and what that will mean for their future in the country. Please keep them in your prayers and give whatever you can to help alleviate their distress," he added.
Barnabas Fund is seeking urgent donations to help as many families as possible that are being affected by the crisis in Syria.