Tag Archives: syria

‘Beyond Inhumane’: ‘Catastrophe in Yarmouk’


  • Founded in 1957 just south of the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Yarmouk refugee camp was home to approximately 150,000 Palestinian refugees prior to the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Today, there are approximately 18,000 Palestinian refugees and Syrians remaining in Yarmouk, including approximately 3,500 children. The rest have fled to other parts of Syria or neighboring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon.
  • Yarmouk has been besieged by the Syrian army since late 2012, when rebels fighting to overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad occupied the camp, causing starvation and diseaseAt least 200 Palestinians and Syrians have starved to death in Yarmouk as a result. On April 6, 2015, the UN warned that residents were subsisting on approximately 400 calories a day, out of a needed 2,000.
  • On April 1, 2015, fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) launched an assault on Yarmouk, taking control of most of the camp within a few days, reportedly beheading two of the camp’s Palestinian defenders amidst fears of wider atrocities. Additionally, the Syrian armed forces reportedly began dropping “barrel bombs” on Yarmouk on April 5 in an effort to stop ISIS’ advance on Damascus.
  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been unable to deliver desperately needed supplies since the fighting began on April 1. According to UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness: “That means that there is no food, there is no water and there is very little medicine… The situation in the camp is beyond inhumane.”
  • The violence in Yarmouk highlights the dire situation that Palestinians in Syria face as they attempt to navigate the complex political realities of the country and the unrest that has ravaged it over the last four years. According to the UN, approximately 220,000 Syrians have been killed since 2011, including more than 76,000 in 2014 alone. Estimates of the number of Palestinians killed vary. According to Palestinian officials, between 1,000 and 1,300 Palestinians have been confirmed killed, with about the same number missing and unaccounted for, while The Action Group for Palestinians of Syria puts the number of Palestinian fatalities at 2725.
  • Prior to the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, there were approximately 526,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria, living in nine official and three unofficial camps run by the UNRWA, the largest of which was Yarmouk.
  • Most of the Palestinian refugees in Syria, including Yarmouk, arrived in the country after being expelled from their homes during Israel’s creation in 1948. Most are originally from the northern part of Mandate Palestine, mainly from Safad, Haifa, and Jaffa. For nearly seven decades, Israel has denied them their internationally-recognized right to return, as enshrined in Resolution 194, passed by the UN General Assembly in”
  • December 1948, which stipulated: “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their
  • neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”

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‘A Veil Of Tears For The Virgin Birth’

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more”

Matthew ch2 v18..NIV.

The Traditional View:

 When I think of that first Christmas, I think of a happy child in a well lit stable,    sleeping snugly in a manger with plenty of straw and a big warm blanket to keep him warm.  I think of the shepherds, the first people other than the parents to set eyes on this ordinary looking, yet remarkable child, I think of three men from the east, wearing expensive looking clothes and bearing expensive gifts.  I have visions of cattle, lambs and donkeys, gazing intently on the holy infant with adoring eyes.  Heavenly voices swirl around inside my head, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth”. Looking at that first picture Christmas postcard nativity scene through my rose coloured spectacles gives me a glowing feel of contentment; how peaceful, how tranquil and how reassuring. All is well in the world.

The Unholy Night:

But somehow, I find my conscience troubled. How could I forget the slaughter of the innocents? In my intoxicated utopian daydream I had forgotten the less fortunate that first Christmas morning. I had forgotten the sacrifice of all male children two years of age and less at the whim of a jealous king.  How must Mary have felt when she heard of all the other mothers mourning the slaughter of their children.  Her joy at the momentous birth of her first born must have been drowned out with the thought of the screaming, the panic, the wailing and the hopelessness of death’s brutal finality?

 How could I forget that the helpless baby that was lying in a manger or to give it its more vulgar title a feeding trough for cattle and sheep, was born in a s***hole, which was essentially one huge fire hazard? Then I think of how he turned out, a homeless wanderer, I guess you could say young Jay Cee Carpenter didn’t have the best start in life.

The Forgotten:

When I think of that scene of slaughter, suffering and mourning and its modern day equivalent of children sacrificed to drugs or alcohol by their addicted parents and who will probably make the same mistakes in their adult life, or the children who live in slums with little to no heating and no warm clothes to keep out the biting winter chill or even the man who feels worthless because he has lost his job and can’t take care of his family properly, I ask myself, where is God?

“I was hungry and you gave me no food, thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, a stranger and you did not welcome me, needing clothes and you did not give them to me. Then they will reply, ‘Lord when did we see you hungry, thirsty, a stranger, needing clothes, sick or in prison and not take care of you? And he will answer them, ‘yes! I tell you that whenever you refused to do it to the least of these people, you refused to do it for me!’”

That passage turns the question of “where is God?” into, where am I? Do I listen for the

silent cry of hungry and neglected children? Can I hear the cry of hopelessness that comes from the very heart of fathers who can’t give their families the best life has to offer? What about the heart wrenching tears of mothers grieving for their children who have become another statistic in the yearly drug related death toll? Then there’s the homeless, destitute, heartbroken and those trapped in violent relationships that are too afraid and weak in mind and spirit to break free. And let’s not forget the families who are still up to their ears in debt from Christmas past, do I see their struggle too?

So, in the midst of the commercialism, consumerism, greed, festivities and debauchery, try and remember those who are

suffering,  whether it be through job loss, grief, poverty or some other reason, look upon them with kindness and give a thought to the less fortunate and if you feel up to it, give someone a surprise gift . And who knows maybe next time, just maybe, the star of Bethlehem will shine on you, after all they’re part of the Christmas story too and some little act of kindness might just be the miracle someone needs to lift them above the mundane, and help them join in with the true festive spirit. Go ahead, be a miracle maker.

“God bless us, everyone”!


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Syrian Jihadists behead Catholic priest

“The Vatican is confirming the death by beheading of Franciscan Father, Francois Murad, who was martyred by Syrian jihadists on June 23.

Below is the news release from the Vatican, via news.va.

On Sunday, June 23 the Syrian priest François Murad was killed in Gassanieh, in northern Syria, in the convent of the Custody of the Holy Land where he had taken refuge. This is confirmed by a statement of the Custos of the Holy Land sent to Fides Agency. The circumstances of the death are not fully understood. According to local sources, the monastery where Fr. Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra.

Father François, 49, had taken the first steps in the religious life with the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, and with them he continued to share close bonds of spiritual friendship. After being ordained a priest he had started the construction of a coenobitic monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh.After the start of the Civil War, the monastery of St. Simon had been bombed and Fr. Murad had moved to the convent of the Custody for safety reasons and to give support to the remaining few, along with another religious and nuns of the Rosary.

“Let us pray,” writes the Custos of the Holy Land Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM ” so that this absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can go back to living a normal life.” Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic archeparchy in Hassaké-Nisibis reports to Fides: “The whole story of Christians in the Middle East is marked and made fruitful by the blood of the martyrs of many persecutions. Lately, father Murad sent me some messages that clearly showed how conscious he was of living in a dangerous situation, and offered his life for peace in Syria and around the world. ”


This should make it clear to Christians around the world what jihadists are about. Make no mistake. Catholics and Christians around the globe are under dire threat, particularly from the spread of militant Islam. Until the threat is recognized and taken seriously, martyrdoms like this will continue.

We have a link to video provided via LiveLeak. We must warn you, the video is extremely graphic. We believe the first victim is Father Francois, and the second victim that is depicted is another person said to be a collaborator with the Assad regime.

The video CLEARLY depicts the beheadings of these victims. DO NOT follow the link unless you are over the age of 18, and are prepared to view content of this nature.

Catholic Online believes it is very important the world knows that Christians are being murdered for their faith, and that martyrdom isn’t an ancient phenomenon.




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