Families fleeing Iraq after the Aug. 1 attacks on Christian churches have found safe haven in Syria, thanks to the Catholic Church.

In a letter addressed to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Antoine Audo, Chaldean bishop of Aleppo, Syria, explained that entire Christian communities from Iraq have begged Catholic leaders to help find homes, medicine and food.

The prelate has responded by opening up the Chaldean parish in Damascus as a refugee center for 500 Iraqi families. According to Archbishop Giovanni Battista Morandini, apostolic nuncio in Damascus, the total number of Christian families who have arrived in Syria over the past weeks is 5,000. The National Post reported three weeks ago that the number of Christians who fled Iraq after the bombings is closer to 40,000.

With the increase in numbers and the cases of sickness, depression and desperation, the Church must do more,” stated Bishop Audo. Aid to the Church in Need responded by pledging $24,000.