25September2017

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Syriac Orthodox Bishop from Damascus asks Dutch and German Parliaments, Media and Christian NGOs for Help

From 16-18 October 2013, the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) hosted the Syriac Orthodox Bishop H.E Dionysius Jean Kawak from the Syrian capital for a lecture, presentation, meetings and interviews in the Netherlands and Germany.

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After months of preparations, the WCA was able to successfully host the Syriac Orthodox Bishop H.E Dionysius Jean Kawak from the Syrian capital. Together with Mr. Feije Duim, the Program Officer of the Church in Action, Mr. Johny Messo, the President of the WCA, had arranged a rich program on Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 October in the Netherlands.


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On Wednesday, the Church in Action organized a conference for a number of Christian NGOs at the headquarters of the Protestant National Service Center in Utrecht, close to Amsterdam. There were about 30 representatives, including reporters from national TV Channels and newspapers like NOS, EO, Nederlands Dagblad and Reformatorisch Dagblad.

The conference was opened by Mr. Arjan Plaisier, the General Secretary of the general synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, followed by Mr. Duim. H.E. Bishop Kawak is the Patriarchal Office Director of the Damascus-based St. Ephrem Patriarchal Development Committee which provides humanitarian aid to the needy, especially the Christians. He therefore clearly outlined the problems, challenges and needs of the Christians in Syria, particularly of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.

After a short break, Mr. Dick Loendersloot spoke about the activities of the Church in Action to those in need in Syria. He was followed by Mr. Messo, who asked attention for Syria’s Aramean Christian refugees in countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Greece. Mr. Duim closed the day with a prayer for Syria’s civilians, especially for the churches and Christians in the war-torn country. H.E. Bishop Kawak preceded him with a beautiful prayer in Aramaic, the language of Jesus as well as of Syria’s endangered Aramean Christians.

Before, during and after the conference H.E. Bishop Kawak gave interviews to reporters. Afterwards, the Bishop, Mr. Duim and Mr. Messo had dinner with Ms. Karin van den Broeke, the Moderator of the general synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands which has more than 2.1 million members (about 12,5% of the 16,8 million large Dutch population).

The next morning, Mr. Messo and Mr. Duim had arranged via the Member of Parliament Mr. Pieter Omtzigt (Christian Democrat) that H.E. Bishop Kawak could give a presentation on the dire conditions of Syria’s neglected Christians for the Permanent Commission of Foreign Affairs in the Dutch Parliament in The Hague.

After this, Mr. Messo appeared in a live broadcast national radio program (Radio 1: http://www.eo.nl/radio/ditisdedag/artikel-detail/syrische-bisschop-wil-hulp-van-nederland), while H.E. Bishop Kawak gave two in-depth interviews to the Christian national newspapers Trouw and Katholiek Nieuwsblad. H.E. Bishop Kawak, Mr. Duim and Mr. Messo then had a luncheon with Mr. Henk van Ijken, the Senior Communication Officer of the Church in Action. After this, the delegation met with the Humanitarian Aid Department and the Political Department of the Dutch Foreign Ministry to ask for more support to Syria’s Christians.

The same evening, H.E. Bishop Kawak and Mr. Messo traveled to Berlin where they were received by Mr. Daniyel Demir, the Chairman of the Federation of the Arameans in Germany. Some of the media reports include:

On Friday morning, the first meeting took place with the Humanitarian Aid Department of Germany’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. Thanks to the efforts by Mr. Demir and Mr. Messo in the previous months, when they successfully worked with the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch in Damascus, a large fund was granted to the Patriarchate for a period of three months. As grateful as the delegation was for this decision by the German Foreign Affairs Ministry, the purpose was to extend this help for the whole year of 2014.

After this, the delegation met with the Director of the Syria Department in order to discuss political support of Germany to the Christians of Syria, such as speaking out for the participation of the Christians in the Geneva 2 Conference, if it will be held this year.

These meetings were followed by a long interview which H.E. Bishop Kawak gave to the Deutsche Welle (see http://www.dw.de/syrias-christians-flee-rebel-crosshairs/a-17178299-1).

Later that same day, the delegation met with the German NGO called Diakonie to explore the options for cooperation in and outside Syria in order to aid Syria’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the forgotten Aramean Christians refugees in the surrounding countries.

The exhaustive trip of H.E. Bishop Kawak to the Netherlands and Germany was successfully closed with a dinner in Berlin together with Mr. Demir, Mr. Messo and Mr. Simon Marogi, the WCA’s PR, Media and Communication Director. The main topic of the conversation was how the WCA and its Member Federations can work more effectively with the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch in order to aid their needy people in and outside war-torn Syria.

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