Christians Flee Syria's Largest City Ahead of Elections

Armenian Catholic Archbishop: They May Never Come Back

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The war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo is witnessing “a new wave of exodus of Christians,” says the city’s Armenian Catholic archbishop.

Speaking with Fides News Agency, Archbishop Boutros Marayati said that “many fear an escalation of violence, particularly in view of the elections,” which are set to take place June 3. “Anything could happen,» he said.

«In recent weeks we have seen a new wave of the exodus of Christians from Aleppo,” he said. “The families waited for high school to end, then they took their luggage, closed their homes and fled to the coast and to Lebanon, using the only road link with the outside world still viable. Maybe they will come back in four months. Perhaps they will never come back again.»

The archbishop also spoke about the living conditions within the country’s largest city which have resulted from sieges by rebel forces. «Now the water supply is back, which had been interrupted for more a week», he said «but there is no electricity. When water is distributed, electricity is interrupted and vice versa. The city is under siege and the areas where there are large power stations and water supply lines are all in the hands of the rebels, that open and close the valves to force the regime to negotiate.”

He added: “We do not know what these negotiations aim to reach. We are with the people, and we do not understand very well what is going on around us».

«The siege of the government army has prevailed over the rebels, who evacuated the city center», said Archbishop Marayati, «but since then gangs have plundered everything they find in houses that are still abandoned, even in the neighborhood where Christians lived.»

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