Food and fuel are increasingly scarce Syria’s second city, Aleppo, which has been at the centre of the civil war for more than four years. Young children are suffering the most; the shops no longer stock milk and it now sells on the black market for up to eight times the usual price. An estimated 40,000 Christians are amongst the remaining residents.
For the last month, the city has been entirely encircled by Syrian government forces who, supported by Russian air strikes, are trying to wrest back control of eastern Aleppo from rebels. Christians fled the persecution that the rebel fighters brought to that area of the city long ago. On Saturday (6 August) rebel forces succeeded in breaking the Syrian army’s stranglehold on the main supply route into Aleppo, but as a result the bombing has only intensified.
The Christians now have to face a new fear: that Islamist rebels will gain ground and they will again find themselves in rebel-held territory, where they will become targets, both for their faith and their support of the Syrian government. The Islamist coalition, Jaish Al Fatah, translated ‘Army of Conquest’, has been heavily involved in the fighting and includes the Nusra Front, a group which has carried out suicide attacks and has in the past openly claimed affiliation with Al Qaeda.
Isolated and under threat, for Christians in Aleppo their faith is their only certainty. Destitute, without reliable supplies of food, medicines, water or electricity and in constant danger from the fighting, our ministry partner in Aleppo described the situation of Christians in the city, declaring, “The situation is getting very hard. No more food to come in and fuel as well. The difficult life is adding more burden to all families and [especially those] who have kids and very young infants.” If families can find any milk in the markets, he says, the price has escalated by between 500% and 800%.