A nun living in the Syrian capital Damascus is warning that food shortages are now so dire in the country that women and children are having to scavenge in bins.
Sister Annie Demerjian told the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, that the deepening economic crisis has led to an explosion of poverty, with people surviving on one meal a day or less:
“Our people are not getting enough to eat… It is very painful to see people - children and women - looking in bins desperate for food.”
Since the civil war began in 2011, the country’s Christian community has shrunk to one-third of its 1.5 million pre-war total. And the UN reports that 12.4 million (60 percent) of people aren’t getting enough to eat - an increase of 3.1 million within nine months.
The Sister is hoping to expand key projects to meet growing needs, including food vouchers, children’s clothes and rent money for hundreds of people threatened with eviction for not keeping up their monthly payments :
“So many years of war have paralysed the lives of our people – hundreds and thousands of people without getting any job – so you can imagine life without work, without income.”
Sister Annie also stressed the impact of rising inflation, with UN reports that food prices have risen sharply and that more than 500,000 children under five are suffering from stunting as well as chronic malnutrition.
Aid to the Church in Need is launching a fresh appeal for Syria ‘Hungry for Hope’ and Sister Annie thanked benefactors for their ongoing support, including during the darkest days of the war :
“Thank God for your help, I always keep in mind the image of St Paul who said that if one part of the body is suffering, the whole body is suffering.
“You really live this image. You are sharing our suffering, not just keeping us on your prayers but also supporting us by helping us meet our different needs.”