Syria Christians: In danger but not specially targeted
AMMAN - Christians in strife-torn Syria face the same sort of dangers as their Muslim counterparts but are not being specially targeted in the conflict, a Chaldean bishop from the Syrian city of Aleppo said on Wednesday.
Antoine Audo, who is attending a three-day regional conference of the Catholic charity Caritas in Jordan, said that Christians in Syria are also not being forcibly displaced but are trying to find refuge elsewhere due to instability in the country.
"I do not think Syrian Christians are targeted although they are in danger, just like our Muslim brothers who are suffering," said Audo, who also heads the Syrian branch of Caritas which has provided aid to more than 25,000 people in Syria.
"Syrian Christians are not being displaced but because of the unrest in Syria, they try, just like other people, to seek refuge in safe places."
Syrian Christians, who form five percent of the country's 23 million population, have remained neutral in the conflict which according to the United Nations has left at least 70,000 people dead in the past 23 months.
A Vatican delegation and Middle East Catholic leaders, meanwhile, began three days of talks in Jordan on Wednesday to discuss the plight of Syrian refugees.
The head of the Vatican's Cor Unum humanitarian affairs department, Cardinal Robert Sarah, is also taking part in the Jordan conference.
"The Church does not support emigration of Syrian Christians," Sarah said after visiting Syrian refugees in Jordan's northern city of Zarqa.
"But in certain situations and if Christian families lost everything, including hope to live in their own country, no one can stop them from seeking a new life in another country."
The United Nations has warned that refugee numbers in countries neighbouring Syria could reach 1.1 million within months. Amman says there are about 380,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan.
The Jordan meeting will discuss Caritas humanitarian work in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Christian leaders attending the conference are due to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah II later Wednesday.