The Terrible Climate Of Fear And Hopelessness Faced By Christians In Syria

Men inspect the damage after an airstrike on a rebel-held neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria.Reuters

A Christian who escaped to Britain from Aleppo has described the sense of hopelessness felt in Syria as the shelling continues without mercy.

Rami, a Christian from Syria who requested anonymity for security reasons, was speaking at a meeting in Parliament to launch the Open Doors UK report on the crisis facing Christians in Syria and Iraq.

He said many Christians would rather stay in the Middle East because they want to be part of the future of their countries. "Many of my friends in Syria are still in Damascus as well as Aleppo," he said. Some even had the necessary paperwork to leave but were choosing to stay. 

And they are living in a climate of fear and hopelessness.

"Beyond the physical and sexual violence we hear about, lies fear," he said. This was partly fear of the unknown. "Christians don't know what's going to happen in the future."

There is a "thirst for a better form of government", he added, and Christians need to be treated equally.

The other thing plaguing believers in Syria is hopelessness. "There has been one broken ceasefire after another. Is there ever going to be hope for Christians in Syria and Iraq?"

Rami said he was a Syrian and a Christian, born and raised in Aleppo. He pleaded desperately for help.

"Together we can contribute to influencing this change that Christians and others in Syria are asking for. It is their cry to you, not just to listen but also do all you can to support their right for a future."

Christians do not see themselves as a minority but indigenous as much as any other community, he said. "Neither do Christians see themselves as a little group struggling to survive or maintain a presence in the Middle East."

Lisa Pearce, chief executive officer of Open Doors, told the MPs at the meeting: "There are things you can do. There is influence you can exert. Many things have looked hopeless but have changed or been changed in history."

Baroness Anelay, Foreign Office minister responsible for human rights, said many of the issues brought up by Open Doors will be discussed at an international conference in Britain next week, where the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is among those who who will be looking at how violent extremism can be combated through building inclusive societies.