In 2008, about three years before the beginning of the conflict there, I visited Syria as part of a delegation sponsored by Catholic Relief Services. More than one million of the four million Iraqis displaced by the US-led war in Iraq found assistance in Syria. As Catholic women from the USA, we wanted to gather information and raise awareness about these Iraqi refugees.
While we were in Damascus, we met both Christian and Muslim women who worked as partners with Catholic Relief Services. I was especially impressed with the commitment of Sisters of the Good Shepherd there. Now, given the escalation in the conflict, I find myself wondering about the Sisters, their co-workers and the refugees we met.
I learned recently that the Sisters (who are Syrian) have remained and still continue their work. They work courageously in Damascus and Homs. Horns is a city situated right between the town of Khan Sheikhoun, the object of the recent, deadly chemical attack, and Shayrat air base, the target of the US missile strike.
I struggle with how to be in solidarity with these Sisters in Syria. Certainly, I can support them and the suffering people of Syria by holding them in my prayer. I can also urge that the US end the ban against refugees from Syria. How might you be in solidarity with these sisters and brother of ours?
Toni Harris OP