By Fionn Shiner

Thousands of Syrian children will be smiling this Christmas thanks to a leading Catholic charity – according to a Sister helping suffering Christians.

In an audio-message to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), project partner Sister Annie Demerjian thanked the charity’s benefactors for supporting children living in the ruins of the Syrian crisis.

She said: “[ACN] brings smiles to more than 19,000 children all over Syria because of your Christmas gifts.”

For the eighth year running, ACN is providing Christmas parcels for displaced children, including warm clothes, shoes, toys, devotional items, and other essentials.

Sr Annie praised ACN’s work with the elderly and disabled Christians in Aleppo, providing food, soap, and other washing items, medicine, clothes, and shoes.

She said: “You can’t imagine, when the old receive the aid, how they cry. They open their hands and they thank you.

“They thank you and they told us that they pray for you.

“Really you are in their prayers daily. They are grateful for all that you are offering us.”

ACN supported a project in Aleppo, at the request of Latin Bishop George Abou Khazen of Aleppo, to provide food packages for the poorest Christian families, which also include financial aid for fuel and heating oil.

Sr Annie said: “I can’t express my feeling for how you will help to warm so many houses because of the fuel you are providing.”

During the civil war, more than 1,700 Christians were killed and more than 600 abducted.

Christians in Syria have declined by up to two-thirds within the last decade.

In Aleppo, the Christian population has declined by more than 80 percent since 2010, falling from 180,000 to 29,000.

Throughout Syria, ACN has provided education scholarships, medicine, rent money for housing, repairs to homes and churches, and support for Sisters and priests.

Last year, the charity supported 185 projects in the country.

In her audio-message, Sr Annie said: “I am very happy to have this opportunity to send you a message to thank you for all that you are doing for our people and our families, especially those who are suffering from the consequences of the war.”

To listen to Sister Annie’s thank you message to Aid to the Church in Need, visit https://acnuk.org/our-campaigns/giftsoffaith/ (scroll down to find the message).

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