By John Newton and Maria Lozano

A leading Catholic charity is to provide 25,000 winter coats for Syrian children this Christmas.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is backing this initiative to help the country’s children, which is being spearheaded by Sister Annie Demerjian with support from other members of her Congregation of Jesus and Mary.

The 25,000 anoraks are being made by tailors and other workers in Aleppo, northern Syria, which was badly hit by the Syrian Civil War.

Sister Annie, a long-standing ACN project partner in Syria, said: “We want to give anoraks in this cold winter that is approaching, not only to keep our children warm but at the same time to give a boost to the local economy by helping our small local factories through the production of these garments.”

One of the workers in the clothes workshop, Rami who operates a machine cutting out the pattern for the coats, told ACN that those producing the winter coats are very grateful for the work.

He said: “The order arrived at a very critical time when we were desperate for work. You know how bad the present economic situation is in the country.

“So it is a great joy for us to be able to support ourselves over the next few months, thanks to this project of ACN.

“May God reward you.”

There are around 30 workshops making the coats, which employ 180 Syrians, both Christians and Muslims.

Sister Annie told ACN that she was happy because she had been able to reserve the material some months ago, before the inevitable shortage of material occurs during the winter months.

She adds, “Together, we can put a smile on the faces of the children.”

This Christmas, ACN will be helping provide gifts for children in Syrian towns and cities including Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Qamishli, Hassake, Sweida and Horan.

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