Even priests are now leaving Syria in an effort to protect their children and grandchildren.
In the region of Aleppo, near the border with Turkey, in 2010 there were living 75,000 Orthodox Christian families. In 2013 their number was reduced by fifty thousand. Today, according to the most optimistic estimates, there are no more than 1,900 families. And of the 20 priests that shepherded the city and villages around Aleppo, today there remain only 2.
“It’s tragic. Everyday we try to help keep the people standing. But what can you say to these people? They’re tired of fighting. They can no longer bear battling. They try to survive in extremely harsh conditions, but the fear that they may lose at any time one of their children or grandchildren is great,” says Metropolitan Saba of Houran and Bosra of the Patriarchate of Antioch to the Vima, who serves near the border of Jordan.
He adds: “Churches and schools have been destroyed. Everyday you see in the streets people who carry their few belongings, and try to take refuge in Jordan and Damascus to escape the war. All they think about is finding a safe place.”
Metropolitan Saba, and all the bishops who serve the Patriarchate of Antioch in Syria, are trying to fulfill their duties selflessly. Despite the abductions and killings of clerics and monks, they remain there handing out food and medicine daily.