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SYRIA: Salesians highlight ongoing efforts

Programs support youth in the face of conflict and devastating earthquake


(MissionNewswire) March 15 marked 12 years since the war in Syria* began. The conflict has killed at least 580,000 people with 13 million Syrians displaced and 6.7 million refugees forced to flee the country, according to UNHCR – the United Nations Refugee Agency. More than 11 million people in the country urgently need humanitarian assistance to survive, including 6.5 million minors.

“There is no work, no electricity, fuel is very expensive and money is worthless,” said Father Alejandro León, provincial superior of the Salesians of the Middle East. “The population is discouraged. There is a generation of minors who know only war, and many young people who have lived most of their lives amid violence are thinking of leaving the country.”

Fr. León added, “Adolescents in our Salesian centers have been educated in the culture of peace and hope, to always see the glass half full. However, many of them openly say that the problem now is that the glass is broken and they do not see a future for themselves and their families.”

In Syria today, every family has a loved one to mourn because of the war. Fr. León explained, “Even in our oratories and youth centers we have suffered from the deaths of minors, youth leaders, and their families due to the bombs on Damascus and Aleppo. Youth are left with a decision — to leave the country in search of a future away from Syria or to stay with their parents and wait for peace to contribute to reconstruction.”

Moreover, the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6 has complicated an already dangerous situation for people. Buildings had been weakened from the bombings and more than 100,000 collapsed. There are 1.5 million people homeless and 5.4 million individuals dependent on emergency aid. More than 6,000 Syrians died in the quake.

The Salesian center in Kafroun took in more than 370 people during the worst years of the war and is now also welcoming those displaced by the earthquake. In Aleppo, the city hardest hit by the war and now the earthquake, Salesians are running an educational project. In recent weeks, nearly 800 people have been housed at the city’s Don Bosco House after the earthquake.

In Damascus, close to 1,200 youth are benefiting from Salesian work. In the Jaramana neighborhood, apartments have been rented to give lessons to children so that they do not have to move too far to pursue their studies. Salesians are also planning a large youth center in the area.

Through the years, Salesians have kept their doors open to meet the needs of youth in their local communities. From 2012 to 2018, 250 families in Aleppo, 120 in Damascus and 30 in Kafroun received monthly financial assistance. From 2012 to 2014, Salesian housed 70 people from Aleppo who were displaced by the war in Kafroun. In addition, from 2019 to 2022, close to 200 youth received business promotion courses and some of them were helped with the initial investment of their businesses. Youth were also provided with refresher and remedial courses.



ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

ANS Syria – The country experiences another sad anniversary of the outbreak of war, with added devastation from the earthquake

Salesian MissionsSyria

*Any goods, services or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.