After the war: Syria, a wounded nation that has lost hope
Syrians are on the brink, in shock, burdened by corruption and inflation. Most of them are hungry, and lack confidence in the future, says humanitarian worker. More and more families are asking for help; others are refusing it so as not to "spoil or delude" their children. Aid from abroad and the Syrian diaspora is dropping.
Damascus (AsiaNews) – Syrians are tired. They “have lost hope and every day experience the problems caused by international sanctions and domestic corruption,” this according to Maria Sargi, not her real name, an official with an international organisation involved in humanitarian work from the start of Syria’s civil war.
“My voice,” she said, “is the voice of all Syrians. We live in a situation of deep shock and great frustration, because of a loss of confidence. I'm not talking about myself, my family, work colleagues, but about society as a whole and the people I meet every day in every corner of the country.”
During the war, Maria spent a lot of time helping the weakest sections of the population. “At the worst moments of the war,” she noted, “we survived because we had hope that, with the end of the war, we could be happy again.
Yet, as the truce held, “something much more serious began. The outer wounds of war and destruction came to the fore while those of the soul and spirit appeared to be even deeper.”
Today things “are even harder and more difficult, especially economically. Every week a family calls me asking for help, because they have no food. Most Syrian families live near famine conditions, unable to get something to eat.
“Each passing day, there is less and less aid from the international community, rich countries and Syrians abroad, because public opinion appears fed up with Syria and its stories of violence. In addition, the (COVID-19) pandemic has dealt a further blow, with hardships in the whole world.”
In Damascus, in Aleppo, and in many other important places in Syria, the situation remains critical as a result of hunger, lack of work and a crisis of the health system, made worse by the coronavirus.
Likewise, Syrians are negatively impacted by high inflation and the Caesar Act, which has compounded other punitive measures, a situation denounced by local figures and the Church, including the apostolic vicar of Aleppo and the Maronite archbishop of Damascus,
In light of this tragic situation, Pope Francis’s expression of solidarity and his appeals for peace take on even greater importance.
Yet, “Most people still have to fight every day to get one, modest meal for their children,” Maria explained.
In eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, “Many families who lived through the area’s siege told me that it was easier back then, even though not everyone had food and many went hungry.
“Now they see fresh food on the stalls in the markets, but they can't afford it. Children ask for food, but parents don't have the money to buy it to feed them.
"We are truly depressed, everywhere we meet people with negative attitudes, pessimistic about the future because of the economic crisis, high prices, spiralling inflation.”
Against this backdrop, every act of charity, big or small, seems to find little resonance.
“Last week I sent a food basket to a family that had nothing to give to their children; something fresh and some vegetables.
“The mother asked me to stop helping them, because she is ashamed and does not want to 'spoil or delude’ her children with food that she won’t be able to buy herself in the future.
“Now more than ever, Syria and its people live in a climate of deep uncertainty.”