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Orthodox Church says 90 per cent of Christians have been expelled from Homs

By on Monday, 26 March 2012

Members of the rebel Free Syrian Army in Homs  (CNS photo/stringer via Reuters)

Members of the rebel Free Syrian Army in Homs (CNS photo/stringer via Reuters)

Almost the entire Christian population of the Syrian city of Homs has fled violence and persecution, according to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

The mass exodus of 50,000 or more people to villages and towns around the city comes amid reports that the homes of Christians in Homs have been attacked and seized by militants.

The Syrian Orthodox Church has told Fides that 90 per cent of Christians have been expelled amid what it fears is “an ongoing ethnic cleansing”.

Until now, Homs has been home to one of Syria’s largest Christian populations, and Church sources have said the faithful have borne the brunt of the violence, escaping to villages in mountains 30 miles outside the city.

Islamists have reportedly gone from house to house in the Homs’ neighbourhoods of Hamidiya and Bustan al-Diwan, forcing Christians to leave without giving them a chance to take their belongings.

According to other reports, Christians have left their homes voluntarily, in effect making way for others to occupy them to shelter from the violence.

Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need today announced an urgent €80,000 aid package providing food and shelter.

The assistance will provide each family with $60 each month for basic food and lodging, with the hope that by the summer they can return home.

ACN is also helping families caught up in a car bomb explosion last Sunday which targeted the Christian quarter of Aleppo, close to the Franciscan-run Church of St Bonaventure.  

Overseeing the aid programme, Bishop Antoine Audo SJ of Aleppo told Aid to the Church in Need: “The people we are helping are very afraid.”

Speaking today from Aleppo, the bishop said: “The Christians don’t know what their future will hold. They are afraid they will not get their homes back.

“It is very important that we do whatever we can to help the people.”

In his application for ACN aid, the bishop stated: “Please speed up the implementation of the project because of the difficult circumstances that Christians face in Syria.”

The bishop, who heads Aleppo’s Chaldean diocese, paid tribute to ACN benefactors, adding: “Thank you for helping us. Pray for us and let us work together to build peace in Syria.”

His comments come as fears grow of Syria becoming a “second Iraq”, following a similar pattern of church attacks and forced expulsion and kidnapping of Christians.

If the attacks continue, Syria could suffer the same fate as Iraq where Christians have plummeted from 1.4 million in the late 1980s to perhaps less than 300,000 today. 

In both cases, the Church has been targeted for perceived close links with regimes under fire from opposition parties and rebel groups. 

The Homs crisis has prompted increased fears that Islamists are gaining influence in the region, filling the power vacuum left when decades-old regimes across the Middle East were overthrown at the start of the so-called Arab Spring.

  • Dominic

    The title should say homes (rather than homs)

  • Bridget

    Very in keeping with the general mentality concerning persecution of Christians, pick on the insignificant and inconsequential. A spelling or grammatical mistake is obviously of more importance than what is happening to Christians in Syria right now.

  • StewartG

    Homs is the name of the Syrian city that Christians have been expelled from by violent muslims.

  • m francis

    How can the insurgency expect the support of Christians when they are acting like nazis.

  • Bemkapeace

    No Dominic, it is not homes, but Homs, a “city” in Syria.

  • ms Catholic state

    I think Lebanon should become the Middle Eastern home for Christians.  It is already 45% Christian and could become a safe haven for Christians.  God Willing.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OTCKAYXC6V65WVJUPZFYCCUEUU Lee

    I think it is time for another crusade against the heathens of the Middle East in all ways possible !

  • ForsythiaTheMariner

    I wonder how much of the Muslim population is still there? Coverage out of Homs is so spotty due to the horrific state of affairs at present, and this article provides two different reports–one saying Islamists “reportedly” went from door to door and forced Christians to leave and the other saying Christians voluntarily left. The only positive thing, I suppose, is that they have not gone door to door and murdered the Christians. If I was a Christian (or Muslim) living in Homs, I would also voluntarily leave. I think it’s important not to jump to conclusions at this point until the facts become clearer.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    THAT WOULD BE GOOD ONLY TO CRUCIFY CHRIST AGAIN AND NOT TO DO HIS WILL: 

    ANOTHER CRUSADE!

    DID NOT CHRIST SAY, “PRAY FOR YOUR ENEMIES”?

  • Jimhmc

    Is it Moslems who are doing the expelling or is it the government? Jim

  • Lakey

    By the sounds of it, it’s the people who are fighting the Government that are using it as an excuse to attack Christians just like in Libya, Egypt etc (in a lot of cases, these totalitarian regimes actually tried to grant some protection to Christians against people like those who rebelled in the ‘Arab Spring’). Of course the Government and the BBC will simply overlook this because they don’t care about Christians and blindly believe that a malevolent and lawless democracy is better than a stable autocracy.

    In conclusion, yes it is most probably Muslims rather than the Government.

  • Benedict Carter

    Oh, the wonderful Western Masonic States’ interference in the Middle East, and the lovely “Arab Spring”, which have resulted in tribal chaos in Libya and the destruction of Christianity in the Lebanon, in Iraq and now Syria! 

    But it’s all for democracy and “human rights”, so it must be good, eh???

    What do you think, Tony, Gordon, Dave, Cleggie? 

  • Raymond

    The current Assard government in Syria being a minority itself. Allawites a faction of Shia) have traditionally protected Christian Syrians from the Sunni majority. The Christians run the businesses and infrastructure, are the doctors and engineers and the educated minority. The rebels are Sunnis who have a reputation of killing Christians (ask the Egyptians who persecute the Coptic Christians there, or the Saudis who kill Christians whenever they can get away with it). 

  • Scott W.

    Did not Our Lord also make a whip of cords and cleanse the temple? Seems just as viable as yours. At the very least it could be argued both/and.

  • ElizD

    There is a need for Christians in every place. It is not legitimate to drive them out of places or pen them up in a particular place.

  • ms Catholic state

    Well tell that to the Islamists!  And for the protection of Christians in the Middle East….I propose Lebanon.  Would you like to stay with your family in Iraq just so there could be a Christian presence there?!  Until you do it is not fair to ask others to.