July 2014

Gaza and Syria: The endless tragedies in the Middle East and the voices of those on the ground

The Middle East is not familiar with truce. The humanitarian emergencies are still in full on more fronts than ever, the number of dead and injured keeps growing everyday and it is difficult to see a glimmer of anything other than violence.

The sky of Gaza is again being lit up by bombs. Yesterday a bomb was detonated a few kilometres from the summer camp organised by the Holy Rosary Sisters, where 157 children are taking part. P. Mario, from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said the following: “We were on the phone with the Sisters in Gaza and we witnessed an explosion in real time, hearing the screams of the children that were at the parish for the summertime.” According to the priest, the pupils were immediately taken to their own homes by the facilitators, taking profit of a period of ceasefire to get out of the buildings and move through the streets of the city. “The children – added P. Cornioli –  are extremely frightened, as is the whole of the Gaza population.”

Also in nearby Syria the situation continues to be very serious: “Syria is a devastated country. There isn’t anything anymore, people have been pushed to the limits of their own strength” –  tells us Fra Simon, supervisor of the San Paolo Region for the Custody of the Holy Land. According to the latest report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights one million one hundred thousand wounded have been documented since March 2011, date of the start of the conflict. 45% of them are children. 120,000 people have been forced to live with a permanent disability and with complications due to the amputation of limbs. The number of dead has reached 133,586, of which 15,149 are children.

Not long ago a mortar fell on the head of a 5-year-old child who was coming to attend our Catechism – explained P. Simon – and he died. Not long after that a young friar managed to survive by miracle, when another mortar fell just a yard away. People live in terror, danger is being felt continuously, every second. I feel myself in constant danger, as I need to move in order to provide assistance to our parishioners. However I know I cannot lose hope. Our friars want to stay and continue to help those that have remained in that tormented land.”

We remain as close as we can to the victims of these conflicts.

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