Syriac Melkite Archbishop of Hmoth (Homs) sheds light on the situation of Christians in Syria during the war

HMOTH, Syria — Since the outbreak of the Syrian war, the country has witnessed mass migration and displacement, but the impact of the war was greater for Christians, especially in Hmoth (Homs), where most of them were forced to leave after the destruction of their homes and churches, and the lack of possibilities for reconstruction.

The International Organization for Supporting the Reconstruction of Religious Buildings believed that the restoration of the Christian presence in the city could not be done without the reconstruction of destroyed churches. The Catholic Organization “Aid to the Churches in Need” poured five million euros in relief programs for Syria and Lebanon. Among the churches that received aid for its reconstruction, was the Syriac Melkite Catholic Church in Hmoth (Homs), which was previously subjected to great destruction and looting.

Talking about the situation of Christians in Hmoth (Homs), the Syriac Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Hmoth (Homs) Jean-Abdo Arbach stated to the Vatican News Agency that, “there were only 20 Christians left in the city during the battles that took place in Hmoth (Homs), due to the mass destruction. We decided to participate in the reconstruction, which contributed to the return of Christians from different denominations to their areas.”

The Syriac Archbishop added that the reconstruction of the Orthodox Church in the city contributed to the discovery of an ancient buried church dating back to the first centuries of Christianity.

The archbishop noted that, in addition to the civil war, the coronavirus pandemic led to border closure with neighboring countries, severely affecting the economy, increasing poverty and lack of basic life necessities and infrastructure, forcing hundreds of Christian families to emigrate. 

“Most of the schools were destroyed and only a few of them were rebuilt, ” said the Syriac Melkite archbishop, “This prompted the majority of children to leave school and resort to work to support their families, posing a great danger to the future of Syria.”

The Syriac Melkite archbishop appealed to the international community to make efforts to reach a political solution that would restore security to Syria, and thus encourage Christians to return to their country. He also valued the role of organizations concerned with churches, in consolidating the presence of Christians in Syria and preserving their historical heritage.