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"I carry the tears of my people": Nun makes heartfelt plea for peace in Syria

The Syrian Civil War has seen the country's people in conflict since March 2011.

Hundreds of thousands have been killed and 630,000 people have fled the violence and remain displaced.

Following Turkey's offensive on Syria's north eastern region, there are concerns about a resurgence of ISIS there and the possible targeting of Christians.

Sister Annie Demerjian tells Premier what impact the war has had on the Christian community:

"When the Turkish army entered northeast of Syria, hundreds of families left their country, their villages, because they took their houses. There is a threat of persecution, so many run away.

She went on to say that despite the struggles Christians there continue to face, their faith remains strong: "The church in Syria it's a suffering church, but at the same time it's a powerful church.

"Through all this time they were trying to survive and trying to continue their pastoral work in spite of all the difficulties."

Sister Annie asked the Christian community to keep Syrian Christians in their prayers:

"If we believe we are one body of Christ, as St. Paul said, if one part is suffering, the whole body is suffering.

"I will be grateful if they always remember their brothers and sisters, who's been injured, and they need grace of healing. This is very important and also paying for justice and peace."

More than 10 million people have been made refugees since the war began with many Christian families struggling to pay for basic living costs.

Speaking at the launch of a new report of Christians oppressed for their faith this week, Sister Annie Demerjian called on the UK government and the international community to intervene and help restore peace.

"So many families have been torn apart because of the war," she said.

"I am not a politician, I am a sister serving, I ask you, and I beg you. I came here, carrying the tears of my people. I'm carrying the wounds of my people. And I pray that you can do something you can help to build a bridge of peace."

Sister Annie discouraged the audience from shutting their eyes to a distressing situation, saying: "Don't change the channel."

The Persecuted and Forgotten 2019 report by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need provides an up-to-date overview of attacks against Christians over the past two years and highlights the dramatic decline of Christians in the Middle East.

The study is the first of its kind since the Bishop of Truro's Independent Review for the Foreign Office and calls on the government not to forget the Christians that continue to face persecution and to ensure that the right to freedom of religion and belief is upheld internationally.

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