The future of Christianity in Syria is under threat as Christian families continue to leave the country “en masse”, a church leader is warning.
Archbishop Jacques Mourad of Homs told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) said that “oppressive sanctions” against Syria were driving social problems like extreme poverty and corruption.
Other problems include an education system in free fall, with teachers earning £15-17 per month, what the archbishop called “below the level of human dignity”.
ACN estimates that up to half a million people have left Syria since the outbreak of civil war in 2011. Many of those who have left are young men.
According to the archbishop, the shortage of husbands has led to young Christian women marrying Muslims and having to convert, as is the law in Syria.
“We see families leaving Syria because they want to ensure a better life for their children,” he said.
“They have lost hope and confidence in this country, and they do not want their children to live in a country where they are not safe.
“There are also many young people who choose to emigrate, and this also poses considerable problems.”
ACN is providing financial assistance to the Archdiocese of Homs and this Christmas will give over 3,000 gifts to children and people with disabilities.