Christians Pursue Higher Education in Aleppo Despite Risks

ICC Note: Throughout the violence and disruption of the Syrian Civil War, Christians have been one of the most vulnerable demographics. While ISIS trafficked Christian women, military forces on all sides forcefully conscripted Christian men for the front lines. In the climate of upheaval, pursuing higher education became impossible for many Christian students. Some, however, have taken the risk.   

02/15/2018 Syria (AINA) – Students from Syria have described how they put their lives on the line to continue their studies in spite of the bombs and other violence that still beset the country.

The young Christians told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need — which is providing them with scholarships — how their faith and determination were vital as they studied at the University of Aleppo which remained open even at the height of the war.

Church leaders working closely with the students paid tribute to their courage and faith.

One Sister praised the students’ “fervour” to pursue their university and college courses in Aleppo.

‘Albert’ (his proper name has been withheld for security reasons) described his struggles studying for an industrial engineering degree.

The young Christian, who is from Qamishli, northern Syria, said: “We experienced severe fighting [in Aleppo]. A number of my friends had to quit their studies because of it.

“I decided to risk my life and finish my degree.”

‘Albert’ said he was afraid of being called up for military service despite what he called his “period of immunity” as a student.

Fellow Aleppo student Angel Samoun, an aeronautical engineering student, also from Qamishli, said: “I did not want to go to Aleppo. My family also did not want me studying here.

“But this is where I was accepted… I even went to classes during bomb alerts. The most difficult part was being separated from my family.”

Another student, Lara Lias, from Daara, a city in southern Syria, said: “I was very afraid because I was so far away from my parents’ home.

“When I came [to Aleppo], my family said good-bye to me as though I were dying.”

Referring to four Sisters of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, who work at a hall of residence overlooking the University of Aleppo, Ms Lias added: “The Sisters support us a great deal. The most important thing is to love God.”

One of the Sisters, Reverend Mother Laudis Gloriae, said: “The inhabitants of Aleppo demonstrate an impressive faith in God and their witness helps me grow in faith every day.”

She added: “The fervour with which these young people pursue their studies — in spite of the battles we have experienced here — is palpable.”

A missile strike in 2013 close to the hall of residence killed about 400 people including a religious Sister from another order.

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