“Why does the world remain silent on the growing plight of the Middle East’s dwindling native Christians?”

A Report on Syria’s Christian Refugees in Greece, Turkey and Lebanon
28 January – 5 February 2013

Click here for the WCA’s report


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From the outset of the Syria Crisis two years ago, the United Nations Refugee Agency has registered over 850,000 Syrians who have fled their country, while many others will follow soon. These victims include many native Aramean Christians whose voice has not been heard or represented yet since March 2011. The present report intends to fill part of this gap.

From 28 January to 5 February 2013, the high-level delegation of the WCA and its Member Federations visited Greece (Athens), Turkey (Istanbul, Ankara, Diyarbakir, Mardin, Midyat) and Lebanon (Beirut, Zahlé and Aatchane). The purpose of this intensive, yet much needed visit was to:

  1. meet refugees from Syria, listen to their stories and help them morally and financially;
  2. assist and cooperate with the locals to set up an infrastructure in order to help the refugees;
  3. compose a report so that their problems, needs and requests can be better appreciated; 
  4. meet local leaders to make them aware of the deteriorating situation and seek cooperation.

The WCA endeavors to prevent more people from suffering and escaping Syria, while helping those in need of urgent help. Hence we call upon international institutions like the UN, EU and Council of Europe as well as governments, the media, humanitarian aid societies, human rights organizations, churches and mosques to give heed to the forgotten plight of the dwindling indigenous Christians of the Middle East, particularly those from Syria who still reside in their country or who have fled their ancient homeland.

During their travel, the Delegation met with the following to discuss the future of the Aramean Christian refugees of Syria:

Athens, Greece
- The Minister Plenipotentiary & Director for Religious and Ecclesiastical Affairs (Mr. C. Manessis);
- The Secretary General of Population and Social Cohesion (Mr. A. Syrigos);
- The Minister Plenipotentiary and Director of Directorate of Arab Countries and the Middle East (Ms. E. Sourani);
- The General Secretary for Civil Protection (Mr. P. Georgiadis); and
- The Aramean refugees in Athens together with Syriac-Orthodox monks Zakka and Joseph.

Istanbul, Turkey
- A Member of the General Assembly of the General Directorate for Foundations (Mr. L. Vingas);
- The Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch (H.H. Bartholomew I);
- The Aramean foundation of Diyarbakir;
- The Metropolitan bishop of Istanbul and Patriarchal Vicar of the Syriac Orthodox Church (H.E. Mor Filiksinos Y. Çetin); and
- The Istanbul archdiocese’s Committee on Aramean refugees

Ankara, Turkey
- The Turkish delegation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (headed by Ms. K. Kilic)

Diyarbakir, Turkey
- The Mayor of the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir (mr. A. Demirbaş)
- The Mayor of the Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality (Mr. O. Baydemir)

Mardin, Turkey
- The Governor of Mardin (H.E. Mr. T. Ayvaz)
- Mayor of Mardin (Mr. M.B. Ayanoğlu)
- The Aramean refugees and the Mardin Diocese

Midyat, Turkey
- The Metropolitan of the Tur-Abdin Archdiocese (H.E. Timotheos S. Aktas)
- The Aramean refugees of Midyat

Beirut, Lebanon
- The Ministry of Social Affairs in Lebanon (Ms. H. El-Helou)
- The Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli (H.E. Theophilus G. Saliba)
- The Syriac League
- The Aramean refugees of Beirut

Zahlé, Lebanon
- The Syriac Orthodox Patriarchal Vicar in Zahlé and Bekaa (H.E. Yostinos B. Safar)

Aatchane, Lebanon
- The Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church (H.H. Ignatios Zakka I beth-Iwas)
- The Archbishop of Beirut & Benevolent institutions in Lebanon (H.E. Clemis D. Kourieh)
- The Metropolitan Patriarchal Secretary at the Monastery of St. Ephrem the Syrian in Ma’arrat Seydnaya in Syria (H.E. Timotheus M. Alkhouri)






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