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ICC Note: A Franciscan priest has described the conditions in Aleppo, Syria as the worst since the beginning of the five year civil war. The only people out on the streets are those burying their dead or fleeing for safety. It has been reported that more than 300 people have died in Aleppo in the last two weeks alone. While the church in Aleppo continues to provide aid to those in the city, they are facing dire circumstances with the increased violence.

05/05/2016 Syria (Ankawa): A FRANCISCAN priest in bomb-stricken Aleppo has called for the prayers of Christians worldwide, describing what he calls the worst violence since the Syrian conflict began more than five years ago.

Fr Ibrahim Alsabagh told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need: “Never, since the beginning of this terrible war, were things as bad as they are now. I have no words to describe all the suffering I see on a daily basis.”

He described seeing rockets and bombs falling on churches, mosques, schools and hospitals.

“So many houses have been partially or entirely destroyed, and so many people killed or severely injured.

“And when the bombs do stop falling, there is an eerie silence, like in a cemetery. The streets are as though everyone has died.”

Fr Alsabagh, who has been working for in Aleppo in northern Syria for two years, added that Easter, which was celebrated by Orthodox Christians and Eastern Catholics in Syria on Sunday (1st May), had been a sad affair.

He said: “It was more like Good Friday than Easter Sunday. Although two liturgies were celebrated, they were very poorly attended.

“People were either burying their dead or else they stayed at home out of fear. It was depressing.

“When will the world community finally wake up and put an end to this new Sarajevo?”

The Franciscan added: “Whoever can escape, does so. On Sunday the roads out of the city were packed with refugees.

“Those who remain behind are the poorest of all, the ones who cannot even afford to look for a place of safety.”

Fr Alsabagh explained that the Church was providing vital aid to those caught up in the fierce fighting between the Syrian government and Islamist rebel militia groups.

He said: “We are helping them, wherever and however we can. Some of the people are living in half ruined homes.

“We help them with repairs and support them, thanks to the help of ACN, with food, clothing, medicines, items of hygiene and other things.

“But now we really need any outside help we can get. We are in the greatest of need.”

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