Saint Vartan (Deir Vartan)
Deir Vartan, located in Al Midan, a suburb in the heart of Aleppo, Syria, was a Catholic monastery built back in the 1930s by Jesuits. It became the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) headquarters. A wide range of services for refugees and internally displaced Syrians were provided there. In August 2012 JRS Deir Vartan Centre in Midan, remained open for administrative purposes, but all activities were moved to a diﬀerent location, nearer to the Jesuit residence in the face of increasing violence in the neighbourhood. At the time, communication with Aleppo was intermittent (at best), with telephone and Internet access regularly disrupted. Electricity shortages were a daily occurrence but there was worse to come. In late September 2012, the Deir Vartan Centre was destroyed in the fghting. Fortunately, JRS had left the place several weeks before the sudden upsurge of the conﬂict in Aleppo.
The Deir Vartan Centre, once a hub of Christian charity – providing classes, counseling and social service for refugees, IDPs and all vulnerable persons – is now in ruins. It is hard to believe that a place where so much good was done could be reduced to rubble in such a short space of time. Despite this setback, the Jesuits’ work continues throughout Syria.