ASIA/SYRIA - Thousands of Christian families fleeing Hassakè. Archbishop Hindo: jihadists have found support in the local population

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Qamishli (Agenzia Fides) – Fighting takes place in the Syrian city of Hassakè, the largest town in the northeastern province of Jazira, after the jihadist militants of the Islamic State (Daesh) managed last Thursday, June 25, to enter some neighborhoods, causing the mass exodus of at least 120 thousand people. Nearly 4 thousand Christian families belonging to various Churches (Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syrian Catholics and Syrian Orthodox) were among the first to flee, and have largely taken refuge in the nearby urban area of Qamishli.
Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, head of the Syrian Catholic Archieparchy in Hassakè Nisibi, has abandoned Hassakè along with his faithful and has also found shelter in Qamishli. He reports the many factors involved in the Syrian conflict: "The government army - refers Archbishop Hindo to Agenzia Fides - is currently gaining ground, with much difficulty, as fighting takes place in an urban environment. On the other hand, the Kurdish militias in the region have responded to the raids of Daesh only when the jihadists tried to attack the Kurdish districts, concentrated in the eastern part of the city. Until that moment the government had not provided support to the army. One must also point out that a part of the local population is on the militants' side: when these arrived in the south-eastern district of al-Nachwa, women and children were asked to leave the city. But young boys and adults remained, and have sided with Daesh. And now that very large neighborhood is at the center of the most violent clashes between government forces and those of the so-called Islamic State".
Meanwhile for the new mass of refugees concentrated mainly in Qamishli, humanitarian emergency has already begun, "Caritas Syria has sent its aid" refers Archbishop Hindo, "but the needs increase day by day. There are no wounded among Christians, but many of them, like everyone else, are concentrated in makeshift camps. Many sleep in the open, and the situation gets more and more complicated by the day, due to the unbearable heat". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 30/06/2015)