Date: October 27, 2016
By World Watch Monitor
Oct. 27, 2016
An Aleppo resident has described the psychological damage of living in the city as “a pain greater than physical pain”.
“Aleppo is a city broken by death, destruction and violence,” said a Catholic nun, Sister Annie Demerjian. on a visit to the UK to raise awareness of the desperate conditions for many living in Syria’s second city. The warring parties, she added, are “monsters devouring one another”.
Speaking about the civil war’s long-term effect on children, she said there is a need to “re-integrate back into society a lost generation where death is an everyday experience”.
The Christian population in Aleppo is down to 33,000 from more than 200,000 before the civil war began - but numbers will rise again, Sister Annie Demerjian told the BBC.
“If there is peace I think most of the people [who left Aleppo] will come back and start rebuilding the city.”
“It will take time to heal the wounds of the many people who’ve been hurt and had their lives damaged,” but reconciliation is possible, she said.
Speaking about the Christians still left in the city, she said “The church community is now so small that we all know each other. Everyone is afraid. We [all] lost people we knew.”
Demerjian, who was in the UK as a guest of the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, gave a first-hand account of life in the city to the UK parliament. With her team of volunteers she brings aid to 940 Christian and Muslim families in the western part of Aleppo.
Daily life is "sometimes normal," she said, but there is a struggle for food, clean water, electricity and fuel.
“Many people live without light,” as they cannot afford electricity because of the “exploitation by traders”.
In one part of Aleppo she found an elderly couple sleeping on the floor because they sold their bed to provide fuel for a few hours of heating.
Syrians should 'stay in their ancient lands'
“More than half the city’s population left over the last four or five years,” said Jean-Clement Jeanbart, Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo.
"It [Canada] has to help them stay where they are… to find peace. And to get it [the war] over with these rebels, these terrorists, and drive both sides to talk, to find a political solution," added Jeanbart, who has worked for the church in Aleppo since 1995.
When asked in May about Canada welcoming 25,000 Syrian refugees in the past few months, he said: "We’re not happy when we see the Canadian government moving refugees and facilitating their integration. It hurts us. A lot." He said he’d rather Syrians, especially Christians, stay in their ancient lands.