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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Aleppo friar says learn about Syria, keep an open mind

Syrians don’t want to leave their homeland, they want a safe place to live in peace, said a Franciscan friar from Aleppo, Syria, who spoke on 5th January with the Archdiocese of Washington’s Holy Land Committee.

Franciscan Brother George Jamal, who is originally from Aleppo, said even though the situation in his homeland is complicated, it is important to learn about it and if people feel inclined to do something, they can learn about the different aid groups in the region to see how to best help.

By some estimates, 5 million Syrians have left the country since the country’s conflict began in 2011. That includes some members of Brother Jamal’s family.

“My family, too, wants to be back after the war is finished,” he said, during the informal meeting, aimed at learning more about the region. “It is home.”

Recently, the Syrian government retook control of Aleppo after months of heavy fighting with rebel groups. It had been the largest city in the country before the conflict. Last year, Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, said the conflict has left 400,000 deaths in its wake and millions of people displaced as they have left to find safety in other countries.

Picture: Syrian children transport their salvaged belongings from their damaged house in Doudyan, a village in northern Aleppo on 2nd January. (CNS photo/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters).