Two prominent Syrian bishops were kidnapped on Monday, April 22nd by armed rebels in the northern province of Aleppo. The Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, were seized in the village of Kfar Dael, on the road to Aleppo from the rebel-held Bab al Hawa crossing with Turkey. The two bishops are the most senior Church leaders caught up in the conflict, which has killed more than 70,000 people across Syria.
|Bishop Youhanna Ibrahim|
|Bishop Paul Yaziji|
The Director of the Vatican Press Office on Tuesday April 23, released a statement on the kidnapping of the Orthodox bishops in Syria: "The kidnapping of the two Metropolitan bishops of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, and the killing of their driver whilst they were carrying out a humanitarian mission, is a dramatic confirmation of the tragic situation in which the Syrian population and the Christian communities in Syria are living. The Holy Father has been informed of this recent, extremely grave act, which comes on top of the increasing violence of the past days and a humanitarian emergency of enormous proportions. Pope Francis is following the events with deep participation and he is praying for the health and the liberation of the two kidnapped bishops. He is also praying so that, with the support and prayers of all, the Syrian people may finally see tangible responses to the humanitarian drama and real hopes of peace and reconciliation rise on the horizon."
As fighting continues, thousands of people continue to flee Syria each week. Estimates say that nearly half of them are children. They are in a dire situation and lacking almost everything, from food to medicine and clothing. An emergency communications manager for Save the Children, Hedinn Halldorsson has recently returned from a visit to camps in Jordan and Lebanon. “This is a complex regional crisis that now has entered its third year,” Haldorsson said, calling the crisis, “one of the biggest our teams have seen for years.”