However, those who remain are still caring for each other.
"There is an atmosphere of love, openness and interaction and those of us who remain feel that we are one group," Fr. van der Lugt said in a letter translated by Aid to the Church in Need.
"It's hard to live in painful circumstances alone, and it is possible that these conditions become harder and harder. Each one of us needs to do more and more to help each other. A person has to pay much attention to the needs of another, to the point of forgetting one's own needs."
He said that the situation in Homs "does not produce optimism," but he nonetheless encouraged others to "help each other to cross this difficult stage, living out solidarity and interdependence in our search for new horizons."
In neighboring Lebanon, the Syrian civil war is having a "disastrous effect," Caritas Lebanon president Fr. Simon Faddoul told Aid to the Church in Need.
There are an estimated 1.4 million Syrians in Lebanon, with most having come since the start of the Syrian civil war two years ago. The conflict is causing social and security problems. Economic losses in Lebanon will total $7.4 billion by the end of next year, the World Bank has said.
"The future is somber," said Fr. Faddoul, a Maronite priest. He said any decisive battle over the Syrian capital of Damascus would cause "a refugee disaster."
Fr. Faddoul said that U.S. threats to attack Syria had boosted the number of refugees entering Lebanon, but the absence of these military strikes has somewhat diminished refugee numbers.
Caritas Lebanon has cared for 125,000 refugees, mostly Muslim, though about 10,000 are Christian.
The approaching winter means there is great need for blankets, heating oil, clothing, food, hygiene products, and money for housing.
"Our resources are never enough. But we are doing our best with what we can get."
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Lebanon has no refugee receiving camps, meaning the homeless families are spread across the country.
Sister Georgette Tannoury, a Frenchwoman from the Community of the Good Shepherd, runs a walk-in clinic in Beirut that serves more than 150 Syrians daily, mostly women and children.
"Children fill the streets and run between the cars begging," she said. "We've never experienced so many robberies and other crimes in the country as in the present year."
She reported "increasing frustration" in Lebanon about the refugees, citing one woman who says she is afraid to send her daughter out shopping.
The refugees often live in garages or in rooms with 15 other people. Their children, who lived in large houses at home, rebel against the cramped conditions and prefer to live on the streets.
Sr. Tannoury said that the hardships make refugees desperate.