Fr. Ibrahim, OFM meets with the many children of the Parish on a street in Aleppo

Today, in Syria, there are 8.3 million Syrians who have been displaced, with 5 million people living in besieged cities and hard-to-reach areas. More than 12.2 million Syrians need humanitarian aid, including 5.6 million children.* Although the fighting in Syria has decreased, the situation in cities like Aleppo continues to be tragic. The Syrian government has said that the reconstruction of Aleppo is not a priority. This shocking admission offers little consolation to the people who must continue to live in the rubble of the largest and most complex humanitarian crisis in the world.

Friars of the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans) have been present in the Middle East since the 13th century. They have been in Syria since 2011, providing thousands of families, orphans, elders, the disabled, sick, and injured with lifesaving necessities. Without ethnic or religious discrimination, these 14 Franciscan friars have steadfastly held communities together with their faith in God and offer of hope. Today we need your help.

Damaged buildings in Aleppo, Syria

Franciscan Missions, in cooperation with the Association pro Terra Sancta (ATS), an NGO serving the Franciscan’s Custody (province) of the Holy Land, is requesting immediate assistance for emergency relief in Syria. The friars and 40 lay staff and volunteers have established four emergency centers in the cities of Aleppo, Homs, Latakia and Knaye. In Aleppo, entire neighborhoods and infrastructure have been destroyed. The local economy is shattered and there is little work.

Every month, the Franciscan friars distribute food to over 4,600 families and nonfood items to an additional 620 families. They offer sleeping accommodations to the homeless and meals to the most disadvantaged. The local water systems are undependable and some wells have been poisoned. Thousands of citizens gather water from wells opened by the Franciscan friars. Over 1,100 water collection tanks have been distributed and installed on rooftops and balconies to capture and hold valuable rain water.

Available goods and services are unaffordable for most of the population. The Franciscan emergency centers provide funds for heating oil, and distribute nonfood items, clothing, blankets, and hygiene products. Many of the items are shared among friends and neighbors. During the cold months, heating oil and blankets are greatly needed.

Fr. Ibrahim, OFM visiting child patient with head wound in hospital.

Hospitals are in ruins and medical services are overwhelmed because there is a shortage of trained staff, supplies and medicines. In the last six months, Franciscan friars assisted available hospitals and health centers with $126,000 for medical supplies and medicines, which helped over 2,500 people. Because of the widespread destruction, hundreds of elderly, sick, and injured inhabitants have no medical treatment options other than the Franciscan friars.

Many of the homes and apartment buildings in the city have been damaged or destroyed. Buildings that remain have no windows, and exterior walls have sustained severe damage from bombs and gunfire. Due to the lack of employment, many families cannot afford to repair their homes. ATS pro Terra Sancta and Franciscan missionaries want to establish a structural assessment and repair program. Over 3,000 families have applied to the program, but the funds are not yet available.

Two Syrian children playing in a alley in Aleppo.

Today, more than ever, our missionary friars need your financial support to help the Syrian people. Your prayers and generosity will keep hope alive in the hearts of the innocent who have witnessed the horror and tragedy of one of the most devastating conflicts in modern times.

Please help the Franciscan missionaries in Syria by making a generous gift today.

As Franciscan missionaries, we pray that people of good will everywhere will take action to change this earth. We believe we are all part of the one human family. Acts of compassion in any place on the planet influence the balance of good in the world. With your prayers, gifts and faith in our mission, we believe that…together, we deliver hope.

“Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Saint Francis of Assisi

* UNOCHA, Syrian Center for Policy Research-SCPR