ACN News Interview: Thursday, 5th January – SYRIA
Christians in Aleppo have celebrated Christmas among the ruins
By Maria Lozana
A short interview with Fr Ziad Hilal about the situation in Aleppo in and around Christmas. Father Ziad Hilal, is a Jesuit and the Syrian project partner of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in Aleppo.
Q) How was it to celebrate Christmas without fighting for the first time in 5 years?
A) People are finally able to feel much safer when going out on the streets and going to church to participate in Mass. I believe nobody skipped the Christmas Mass knowing that the city is safer from the arbitrary shelling and bombs that used to hit the city. Many churches were damaged during four and a half years of war, but Christmas was held at some of those churches to thank God and celebrate the occasion.
(Fr Ziad Hilal © Aid to the Church in Need)
Q) Were you also in East Aleppo to celebrate in places where you could not celebrate last year?
A) There are no churches in East Aleppo to celebrate Christmas. I went to Jibreen district, where the displaced people from eastern Aleppo were placed, and distributed humanitarian aid.
Q) Are the majority of the population in Aleppo celebrating Christmas or just the Christian population?
A) Christmas means wonderful and colourful lights and decorated trees to the Muslim population. Even before the war, the Muslims used to come to the Christian neighbourhoods to enjoy the festivities and the celebrations. This year, a big Christmas tree was setup in Al-Azizia district and was lit with countless light bulbs. Most of the city officials and citizens came to see the tree and take pictures with it on Christmas day and the following days.
Q) How is the humanitarian situation in Aleppo now? Do you have electricity and water again?
A) Aleppo has been without electricity and water for five years in a row now. People still rely on generators and water delivered by small trucks to fill their house tanks. The humanitarian associations and churches continue to support the people during these difficult times.
(Sr. Brygida Maniurka FMM at the Christmas crib in a Church in Aleppo. The nativity scene was placed in the rubble of the bombed and ransacked Church © Aid to the Church in Need)
Since the beginning of the war in Syria in March 2011 ACN has funded emergency aid projects to the tune of $21 million. The charity calls for donations, and in particular for the continued donation of food and clothing and for heating and accommodation in the winter months. To help this cause please donate on line at www.aidtochurch.org
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 172 languages and 50 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.
For more information or to make a donation to help the work of Aid to the Church in Need, please contact the Australian office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: email@example.com or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153.
On Line donations can be made at www.aidtochurch.org