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Aleppo: missile hits the School of the Holy Land. One dead, two injured

On Saturday 21st May, at about 6.00 pm, a missile hit the School of the Holy Land in Aleppo (Syria), injuring two people and killing one lady, who was one of the elderly guests who had found shelter in the School. This has been revealed by the Custody of the Holy Land. The School, surrounded by a big park, was considered one of the few safe places in town, so far. The Friars had converted it into a shelter for people stopping or staying, during this war that is destroying Aleppo. Last year, some classrooms had been equipped to host about twenty elderly people, who had fled from their bombed homes. While some old people had gathered for their afternoon break, the missile cut through the wall. “The blast was extremely violent”, stated father Firas Lufti, director of the School, in a telephone call to the friars in Beirut: “There’s no 100% safe place in Aleppo now”. “For Christian families – father Ibrahim Sabbagh, parish priest of Aleppo, said – the Convent of Aleppo is regarded as a green lung, where people can come and have some respite. It is the place in which people find shelter, can breathe a bit of fresh air and make their children play. It is the only place in which some greenery is left. Here young people, as they can no longer leave Aleppo, meet to organise the summer camps. We have just started refurbishing it, to take in the summer guests, but the events of this afternoon lead us to stop the work until peace is restored”. In Aleppo, the friars have three centres: the parish of St Francis of Assisi, the succursal parish church in the Convent of Er Ram, and the School of the Holy Land. In the last few months, the Parish of St Francis has been hit just once, and the Convent of Er Ram, five times. “It is a time of prayer and fasting for Syria. The friars, witnesses of heroic charity, will stay close to those in need”, commented father Francesco Patton, the new Custodian of the Holy Land, at the Vatican Radio. 14 Franciscan friars live in Syria, 5 of whom in Aleppo.

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