It seems that Mother Agnes has aroused the ire of those favouring US intervention in Syria. Some have even stooped so low as to suggest that in this latest life-saving initiative Mother was acting under orders of the head of Syria’s National Security Bureau! (see here)
I know Mother Agnes pretty well and she is not big on taking order from anyone, with the possible exception of her beloved Bishop, Gregory III Laham – another wonderful advocate of peace. Even the Patriarch though does not attempt to orchestrate Mother Agnes’ activities directly.
In truth, Mother Agnes walks a lonely path, earning the ire of countless rebel sympathisers and often under criticism from Assad supporters as well who feel she should be giving no humanitarian support to the rebels! Her loyalty is to Christ, to truth, and to the people of Syria.
The following account and pictures were sent to me by Mother Agnes herself. I have not tried to improve on her English but note that while it is not perfect, her English is a lot better than my French or Arabic, in which she is also fluent.
EVACUATING CIVILIANS FROM MOADDAMIYAH – A BESIEGED REBEL CITY IN DAMASCUS WESTERN GHOUTA
Damascus – 15 to 10 ( KUNA ) – The official Syrian news agency ( SANA ) reported the evacuation of five thousand four hundred women and children from the town of El -Sham Mouadamieh , besieged for months, and who suffers daily violent clashes between the Syrian opposition and government forces.
The agency said that the Ministry of Social Affairs , in collaboration with the province of Damascus and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has transferred during three days five thousand four hundred women and children belonging to al- Sham Mouadamieh to transfer to a center temporary accommodation in the province of Damascus.
The Minister of Social Affairs Kinda Chammat assured in a press release sillicitude the government to provide decent living conditions for women and children who have suffered greatly .
Mother Fadia Laham (in religion Agnès -Mariam of the Cross) , general coordinator of the initiative, drew attention that the plan is carried out whereby the evacuation of children , women and the elderly who need emergency care will continue in other areas through communication with local stakeholders and coordination with the relevant authorities.
Mother Agnes Mariam said that the success of this initiative gives an indication of the need to seek a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis with Syrian actors.
The coordinating team will wait for an hour to no avail. The rebels refuse, by force of arms, that civilians leave the city.
Mother Agnes cries seeing the thinness of this woman. After a brief course through the destroyed and damaged town, the rebels take the team to the headquarters of the Military Council: an apartment on the first floor of a building.
Arriving there every fighter will ask to listen personally to the explanations of the sisters. Mistrust gives way to confidence, even to relax.
Then “independent revolutionaries” arrive: they wanted to arrest two members of Mother Agnes-Mariam team because they were accused to have links with the government. They were opposed by the other factions. A battle occurred with rifles and wristle.
We wanted to evacuate everybody the third day but it was impossible. A lot of critics from the part of the Popular Committees, they were saying “you are helping the families of the militiamen that are killing our families”.
But we kept negotiating and bypassed the critics. We appointed three days later another day to finish the evacuation. This day begun with an impressive presence of International Red Cross and Red Crescent ambulances, mobile clinics and volunteers and more than 30 buses. Alas the warlords did not accept the evacuation. We could not open the gate and some undisciplined militiamen opened the fire on the army who answered with bombs.
The media said that there were killed and injured people. Nobody knows the reality because the videos issued from Moaddamiya if they are true do not show injured people and when they show they are obviously fake.
We knew that this day the warlords did not want any more civilians to go out: they need them as human shields and they were not happy that the prices dropped down by the half because of the exit of 5000 citizens.
In all cases this day we suffered a lot. Al Jazeera reported falsely that Mother Agnes-Mariam declared that the “terrorists” breached the cease fire and this was a provocation for the militiamen. They were angry and showed how she entered to their stronghold along with sister Carmel and ate olives with them as a sign of friendship: how could she call us terrorists? Rumors circulated on the web that the Free Syrian Army decided to slaughter Mother Agnes Mariam. Nobody could explain why?
(if you can’t see the video version of this celebration, click here)
Then the battle of Moaddamiya ignited.
We think about the women and children that are still there. We think about the women and children that are still in Daraya. All those people asked us to intervene and evacuate them. But the warlords prefer not.
Nevertheless we are proud to have been able to put in a safe place 5000 civilians. We believe that despite the obstacles mediation in Syria is possible. Reconciliation in Syria is possible. Peace in Syria is possible
Help Syria with Mediation, Reconciliation and PEACE.
Thank you !
Agnes-Mariam of the Cross
Head of the International Support Team for Musalaha (Reconciliation) in Syria