News / Middle East

Syrian Christians Urge Pope to Work for Peace, Help Them Go Home

Pope Francis listens to a speech as he meets Israel's Rabies David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef in Jerusalem, May 26, 2014.
Pope Francis listens to a speech as he meets Israel's Rabies David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef in Jerusalem, May 26, 2014.
Reuters
Syrian Christians who fled a village near the border with Turkey after it was captured by Islamist rebels say they refuse to leave the country and urged Pope Francis to pray for them and help them return home.
 
In March, rebels including fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front captured the majority-Armenian village of Kasab in the coastal province of Latakia, a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
 
Thousands of people fled to the city of Latakia and accused hardline Sunni fighters of targeting Christians and desecrating holy sites. Rebels denied the accusations.
 
Christians interviewed by Reuters said they hoped Pope Francis, who visited Bethlehem on Sunday, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, would pray for peace in Syria.
 
"The Pope's visit is a holy one, we wish for him to work for peace and pray for peace in Syria," Father Miron Owadesyan said.
 
The Argentinian pope made an urgent appeal for an end to Syria's war on Saturday at the start of his first trip to the Holy Land as pontiff.
 
In the first days of the attack on Kasab, more than 1,500 people sought refuge in the Armenian Greek Orthodox church of the Virgin Mary in Latakia city 30 miles (49 km) away.
 
Most of them have since moved and now only about 100 people are living in the 1,200-year-old-church, mainly surviving on donations and support from the government.
 
Narik Louisian, a priest from Kasab, said he hoped the Pope would use his influence to help Christians in the Middle East who have felt threatened by violence and political turmoil.
 
"[It is] our right as Christians to live in the East, the East is our land too," he said. "We are an inseparable part of the Holy Land."
 
Tamar Minoknian, a 40-year-old housewife, said she wanted Pope Francis to help Syria's displaced Christians return to their villages. “We want him to help us return to our houses. We do not want aid, we just want to go back to our homes.”
 
Latakia and neighboring Tartous provinces together form the Mediterranean heartland of the Alawite faith - the Shi'ite-derived sect of which Assad is a member.
 
Many Alawites have remained loyal to the government throughout the three-year-old conflict which has killed at least 160,000 people.
 
Syria's Christian community, about 10 percent of the population, is wary of the rising power of Islamist groups within the rebel movement, and only a small percentage of Christians have taken up arms.
 
"I cannot live outside Syria, we were born here and we will die here," Nerneen Boinashikian, in her fifties, told Reuters while she was preparing lunch. "All that we want is to return to our homes. Enough destruction."

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 26, 2014 1:23 PM
The Pope should press it on the West to understand that there are no two ways to make people live in peace. The only way is to allow people to self determination. Instigating strife in order to divert people from what we think is bad for them is not the right way to foster peace. It has meant war and destruction everywhere it has been used - Libya, Egypt, Ukraine and Syria. Having put the country in trouble for just too long to remove the hand of Iran from affairs in the Middle East has not helped, instead it has brought untold hardship to families while the people designated to be removed still sit pretty. Let the West show some understanding - hence godliness is out of their equation - have a rethink, after all the strategy has not worked to remove Assad, instead it has introduced a worse grade of terrorism that may institute it to statecraft and way of life out there, aggravating humanitarian situation, security and even climate.

This is wrong. Let the West show some pity to the people that have suffered so much and allow Assad to transit this regime - if only for the safety of lives - especially of children and women. If change must be enforced, let us try economic and diplomatic strategy and see if it can reroute the region effectively. But let us stop the war NOW. It has become counterproductive in that it has yielded growth to islamist fundamentalism and terror instead. I don;t think that was what the original result was expected to be. And let us discountenance the negative input of the Arab Spring - I think it is the worst thing to happen to the Middle East in recent times.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid