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Catholic charity rises to the challenge as cost of living spikes in Syria

by Tola Mbakwe

Working with local Church leaders, Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has announced fresh support for thousands who are at risk of starvation.

According to ACN, the cost of living has spiralled upward – since the war's outbreak the price of wheat flour has increased by 300 percent and rice by 650 percent.

Father Andrzej Halemba, ACN's Middle East project head described an "appalling daily struggle to buy food" endured by Christians and others.

With nearly two thirds of families in Syria living on less than £1.60 a day, and the remaining third in even worse hardship, thousands of families have fallen into debt just to get the money they need to buy food.

An ACN campaign will provide food aid, as well as other vital supplies such as medicine for 3,000 families in the country.

The charity's UK office has provided more than £92,000 to help widows, victims of the war, young people who have lost their jobs, and families in particular need.

Sister Lolita Houssein of the Good Shepherds Sisters, who are overseeing the project, said: "Today Syrian citizens are struggling to survive after their livelihoods were destroyed during the last six years of conflict."

She stressed the scale of the food problem saying that around half of Syria's families have reduced the number of daily meals from three to one or two.

Sister Houssein added that the problem was worsened by the job shortage caused by the conflict.

She said: "The unemployment percentage among young people is estimated to be 78 per cent and many suffer from fear, isolation and uncertainty about what the future holds."

Sister Annie Demerjian of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary and her team of volunteers are also helping more than 2,000 displaced families in Hassake and Aleppo.

They make monthly visits to the families, bringing food baskets and other essential aid backed by ACN.

Sister Demerjian said: "Every time we visit one of the families we ask them to pray for those who have contributed and are still contributing to ease their suffering, and it is beautiful is to see their open hands thanking God and thanking you for your brotherly love."

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