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For other kinds of aid, there are various church missions, like that of the Armenian Catholic Church, headed by Bishop Jean Teyrouz. Together with help from CNEWA and other agencies such as Caritas, the church has been able to provide food, clothes, heating appliances, fuel and rent assistance to Armenian-Syrian refugees arriving in need.

Recently, the bishop received an email from a colleague in Damascus. The colleague had sent testimony from Christians in his parish, as they face an ominous new threat: kidnapping.

“A fear of leaving your home to go to work, to school, to the church, is settling in,” read the email.

While the bishop says he and the church are not eager to encourage emigration, he recognizes that all signs from inside Syria show that it is not yet the time to go back.

Meanwhile, CNEWA’s regional director for Lebanon and Syria, Issam Bishara, fears history may be repeating itself.

“I think in the back of the mind of each one of the Christian families in Syria, there is something that reminds them of the incidents that took place in Iraq not very long ago,” he says. “We know very well that the Christian families in Iraq were targeted because they were Christian. The fear is not only for now while there is fighting. The fear is also, ‘who will take over,’ if and when the regime falls?”

As the Syrian conflict enters its third year, many families who have fled to Lebanon are beginning to make plans to set down roots in Lebanon. Others hope to move to a more stable country, in Europe or North America.

In her cold shack in Jounieh, Shams al Hasan says she will not return to Syria unless the regime falls. She knows that might never happen. “Besides,” she says sadly, “there is no more Syria. Syria is now a place of shadows.”

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Journalist Don Duncan covers events in Lebanon.

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