A Catholic nun working with Christian families in the war-torn city of Aleppo has criticized Western media for failing to report on the plight of those in regions controlled by the government of Bashar Assad.
"It is not fair," Sister Annie Demerjian, a member of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary told Catholic News Service, explaining that the media only reports on those in areas held by rebels and jihadis. "We don't see a balance. Last week nobody spoke about a (Christian) woman who pulled her son from a balcony without his head, and just a river of blood coming out of his neck."
She revealed the adult son's head was blown off when the area of government-controlled western Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, was struck by shell.
"His mother was crying, 'Come in, come in,'" said Sister Annie. "She pulled him to find he had no head. Nobody spoke about that, nothing. There are many stories like that. It is very painful when shells are falling in residential areas. Many people die.
"Sometimes their families and friends have to collect the pieces of the bodies - a hand here, a leg there, body parts in other places - but nobody is talking about it," she said. "Why is the world silent about it? People don't know what is happening."
She added, "I wish and I hope that everybody - all those who have the power to intervene in Syria - will act as peacemakers and think about how they can make peace in Syria and especially in Aleppo...This is the message from my people: Please, please be the makers of peace. It is not just for Syria, it's for the whole world."
The number of Christians in Aleppo have fallen from 200,000 to fewer than 35,000 since the war began. Speaking to CNS, the nun added revealed before the six-year conflict, Christians and Muslims lived in harmony: "We lived in the same areas, we called each other brothers and sisters. ... We didn't have divisions between Muslims and Christians before. This is new."
During a later testimony delivered before members of Parliament and the House of Lords, Sister Annie revealed that the people of Aleppo live in extreme hopelessness and have limited access to food, water, and basic healthcare. Reuters reports that the Russia-Syria bombing campaign has destroyed most health facilities in the besieged city, where 406 people were killed and 1,384 wounded between Sept. 23 and Oct 8., according to U.N. data based on reports from medical facilities.
"They suffer silently and cry with no tears," she said, according to ChristianToday. "The dreams of our people were great in the past when they dreamed and dreamed of the possibilities for their lives, but this brutal war has not left any place without destroying it: the country's infrastructure, the people themselves together with their hearts and dreams," she said.
"Let me tell you, what we are experiencing in Syria, especially the city of Aleppo, is indescribable and chilling. All human values given by God to man in order to live in peace and dignity have been obliterated from the scene."
She added that Aleppo has become "a broken city where life does not exist" and has turned into the "city of death and devastation, destruction and violence," with everyone living at the mercy of God, between fear of the unknown and the hope for peace.
"The person who is hit by a rocket shell and dies at least gets rest from pain. But he who does not die will be exposed to handicaps that he will endure all his life," she said. "There is overwhelming despair of life because of the crisis in Aleppo. There is familiarity with death. It is an everyday experience. "