ASIA/SYRIA - Syrian refugees welcomed by the Jesuits in the convent of St. Vartan

Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - Families of displaced Syrians, fled from the conflict that raged in the west of the country, found hospitality and were welcomed in the Convent of St. Vartan, run by the Jesuits in the Midan neighborhood in the heart of Aleppo. The monastery, dedicated to the Armenian Saint, was an Armenian school a century ago, then served for hosting Armenian refugees. In November 2008 the Jesuits, through the "Jesuit Refugees Service," after restoring it, opened a reception center for refugees, with after school activities for children and social activities. The beneficiaries were Iraqi refugees and children from poor Syrian families. The Centre continued to host up to 2010 new families from Iraq, which gradually began to be incorporated into the social fabric of the city, settling in Syria. Today the Center is open to refugees and needy people without any discrimination of religion, ethnic group or origin. Given the violence that continues in Syria, some Syrian IDPs have arrived at the Center and found an oasis of hospitality and solidarity. The plight of Syrian refugees continues: according to the latest UNICEF report, more than 54,000 Syrian refugees are in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. 50% are children who have left school, they suffer from poverty and trauma caused by the escape. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/5/2012)