By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
(Worthy News) - At least hundreds of thousands of Syrian Christians face growing anti-Christian hostilities in war-ravaged Syria and neighboring Lebanon, aid workers said Friday.
“Before the war began, they enjoyed respect from the Muslim majority and were treated as equals – perhaps uniquely in any Muslim-majority Arab country,” said aid group, Barnabas Fund.
“But Islamist groups amongst the rebels changed all that. Anti-Christian hostility grew and flourished while all around was death and destruction,” explained Barnabas Fund, supporting Christians in the region.
It noted that “Many Syrian Christians have left their beloved homeland and are now eking out an unofficial existence in neighboring Lebanon.”
However, Lebanon is on her knees. Political and economic crises have dealt blow after blow, crowned with last year’s huge explosion in Beirut” that killed more than 200 people and injured thousands, the group recalled.
Adding to difficulties are reports that official refugee camps are dominated by Syrian Muslims where Christians face problems. “That makes Syrian Christians very vulnerable, so they steer clear of the camps and try to find their accommodation somehow. But that means they don’t get the international aid that refugees in the camps receive,” Barnabas Fund told Worthy News.
Working through the churches, Barnabas Fund said it helped “some of the neediest Syrian Christian refugees” in Lebanon.
It announced a campaign among donors to help support humanitarian efforts. “We cannot give them the peace and stability they pray and long for. We cannot take away the memories of the horrors they have seen. But we can help them buy medicines or rent a small room to live in, or put food on the table.”
At least hundreds of thousands of Christians fled Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011. Several charities even claim that Syria’s Christian population of around 2 million has “roughly halved” over the last decade.
But up to 700,000 Christians are believed to remain in Syria, despite reports of growing persecution by Islamists in the troubled Muslim-majority nation.