Marists of Aleppo: situation improving but dogged by unemployment and isolated attacks

Nabil Antaki, doctor and lay member of the order, talks about the economic situation "at historic lows". Life is "very expensive" and with "low" salaries, a family cannot live in a "dignified" way. Continued mortar launches by rebel groups west of the city, dead and injured, are worrying. The commitment of the Christian group to the poor and needy.

Aleppo (AsiaNews) - In Aleppo daily life "is progressively improving" thanks to the growing supply of water and electricity, although still "rationed", and the "availability of products" on the counters of the markets is also steadily increasing says Nabil Antaki, doctor and lay member of the Order of the Blue Marist friars in his 33rd letter from Aleppo.

However, adds the Christian leader, the economic situation "is at historic lows: unemployment is very high, life is very expensive, low salaries do not allow a family to live in dignity". This is why many of those who fled "do not want to come back".

The doctor continues in his letter to AsiaNews that from the point of view of security, conditions are "good" following the "evacuation of armed groups" and the liberation "from the terrorists of al-Nusra". Nevertheless, "mortars thrown by rebels spread out west of Aleppo continue to fall every day on some suburbs. On 27 June the worst day of the last 18 months "with continuous launches that caused" numerous deaths and injuries ".

In this situation better than in the past, but still critical, the Blue Marists continue their work of assistance to the population "with the distribution of food and health parcels" to the neediest families. However, warns Nabil Antaki, "these distributions must end one day" and the priority must be to "find a job".

Dr. Antaki was born in Aleppo, is married and has two children living in the United States. A graduate of the University of St. Joseph in Beirut and specializing in Canada, together with his wife he founded the Blue Marists association that works in the medical sector and treats the needy. He is one of the few doctors who stayed in the city even in the darkest moments of the conflict, when the medical profession and hospitals were one of the sensitive targets. An escalation of violence and deaths that has determined, in recent years, a real hemorrhaging of professionals from the country.

He laments the growing inattention of the press and world institutions on the suffering caused by the war. "The transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem - he writes -, the tragedy of migrants, the elections in some European countries, the Trump-Kim-Jong-un summit and even the football world cup" have alienated the international media. "However - he warns - the situation in Syria continues to cause concern and we live on a powder keg".

In a critical situation, the Christian activist group is continuing projects in favor of the population, such as training courses dedicated to adults to facilitate them in finding a job. "In a year and a half - he recalls - we have already financed 50 projects and allowed more than 90 families to live off the proceeds derived from their profession".

In Syria there is still the risk of a "regionalization" of the conflict due to the presence of different actors: the United States and France in the north-east, under the pretext of defending the Kurds; the Turks, following the invasion of the Afrin region in the northwest; finally, Israeli air raids in different areas of the country in the most complete "impunity". This is why, concludes Dr. Antaki, the work of humanitarian assistance and aid to the weakest populations remains a priority.