This report is from Clare Creegan of Aid to the Church in Need.
The Prince of Wales has made a donation in aid of suffering Christians in the Middle East as the crisis in the region deepens.
The undisclosed gift from The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation was made to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and came after His Royal Highness made a speech about persecuted Christians at an advent reception hosted by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, in London last month.
In his address to invited guests including Church leaders and Middle East Christians, he warned that the growing crisis of extremism could threaten “the very existence of Christianity in the land of its birth”. (To read the full speech go to http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/media/speeches.)
At the event, on 17th December at Archbishop’s House, near Westminster, The Prince met Iraqi and Syrian Christians with direct experience of persecution.
Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK), also attended the meeting and thanked the prince for his solidarity with the persecuted Church in the Middle East.
Responding to news of the prince’s donation, Kyrke-Smith said: “Having met Iraqi and Syrian refugees recently in Lebanon, I know how much such help means – and the fact that our brothers and sisters are not forgotten.
“The support of the Prince of Wales for the work of Aid to the Church in Need and other organisations encourages more people to do the same.”
Last month, the charity announced a series of extra emergency aid for people in the Middle East, including 30 new projects in some of the worst affected areas.
ACN provided showers, washbasins and toilets for displaced Christians in Erbil, Kurdish northern Iraq, and a nursery school for 125 toddlers.
Elsewhere in Iraq, the charity gave emergency aid for 182 Christian families seeking sanctuary in Kirkuk and Sulaimanya.
For Syria ACN has provided six-months funding for schools in the Valley of the Christians, Marmarita, food and other basics for 4,500 families in Homs as well as heaters and fuel for families displaced from Alqariatin to Horns, Fairozah and Zaidal.
Last year, ACN UK alone paid over £1.5 million to support projects in the Middle East, including Iraq and Syria where the charity has 140 recent and current projects at this time.
Since the outbreak of conflict in the region in 2011, ACN has given more than £11 million for projects in Iraq and more than £7 million for Syria.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN) www.acnmalta.org (Malta)