Syria: the Easter miracle in the province of Idlib

Giacomo Pizzi17 April 2020

“If the virus reaches us here, there’s nothing we can do, it would be a huge tragedy. Thank God we have had no cases here and this Easter we have been able to celebrate together, with the necessary precautions, but all together; and this is a miracle”. Thus begins our call with Friar Hanna Jallouf, one of the last two Christian religious – along with Friar Luoay – left in Knaye and Yacoubieh, two villages in the tormented province of Idlib in northern Syria. We are closed in, they have been closed for ten long years by the military stranglehold around what is the last Jihadist stronghold.

“Really – he repeats – it was a miracle for us to celebrate Easter together, as it has not happened for a long time in what is the darkest point in the world. Friar Hanna refers to the violent fighting between the Damascus and Russian armies against the jihadists of Tahrir al Sham, which in recent months have devastated the province of Idlib and forced more than a million people to escape, in the snow, without shelter and without the possibility of receiving any kind of help.

Since the beginning of March, however, a truce has been in progress that seems to hold “for the moment,” emphasizes Friar Hanna, but at least it has made it possible to celebrate Easter. So while the whole world is forced to stay at home, for the moment the scourge Covid-19 seems to have spared the province. If this were to be added to the current tragedy, it would be the end.

“Here in fact,” continues Friar Hanna, “hospitals are destroyed, even water is lacking and the little you can buy is too expensive. Moreover, for years we have not been able to bury our dead decently because there is no wood to make the coffins and even if there were wood, there is no one who could make them… We are forced to wrap the corpses in plastic sheets before burying them, but with the virus, it would be a disaster!”.

Father Hanna, however, says he is renewed by this Easter miracle and also tells us that in their small way, through the help of the Association pro Terra Sancta, they can continue to support the 250 families through the distribution of water, basic necessities and other types of aid. “We are truly grateful,” he concludes, “for the help you continue to give us, despite the fact that you too are now in an emergency. We pray for you every day, renewed by this new hope of the resurrection”.