03/19/2021, 11.11
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Aleppo, Blue Marists: a winter of war and destruction followed the Arab Spring

Nabil Antaki: the Pope speaks of brotherhood, but many "treat Syria and the Syrians as enemies". War, the financial crisis in Lebanon, US and European sanctions, and inflation have triggered a spiral of despair. Widespread criticism and poverty have pushed the Christian group to reactivate the distribution of food parcels.

Aleppo (AsiaNews) - Since the "Arab Spring so loudly praised by Western media", Syrians "have experienced a long and terrible winter,” writes Dr. Nabil Antaki, of the Blue Marists, in the 41st Letter from Aleppo released to mark 10 years since the beginning of the war in Syria, a nation "beloved and martyred" as Pope Francis also recalled in recent days.

A country, continued the Christian leader, "far from perfect" before the conflict, but "no injustice, violation of human rights or failed reform can justify the destruction of our homeland and the sacrifice of generations of our compatriots".

"Pope Francis - recalls Antaki - has just completed a historic visit to Iraq which, like its neighbour Syria, has paid a high price for an invasion, occupation and partition organized, under a false pretext, by these very people who impose sanctions and teach others about Human Rights."

The war destroyed the country, its infrastructure, archaeological heritage, schools, factories and hospitals, killed 400,000 people, caused five million refugees and eight million internally displaced persons, pushing a million on the migration routes to Europe and the West.

He writes: "for 10 years, we have been living through war; yes, 10 years, longer than the 2 world wars of the last century: the suffering, the bereavement, the poverty, the misery have become our daily share, a daily life which is a nightmare…. The childhood of our children has been stolen, the dreams of our teenagers have been vanished and the futures of our young people no longer exist. And yet, before the events began, we were living very well in a safe, stable, secular and prosperous country; everything was not perfect, far from it; but no injustice, no violation of human rights, no reform justifies destroying our country and sacrificing generations of Syrians. ".

The rebels, he recalls, affirmed their desire to establish a rule of law, but in reality "they were Islamic extremists" from Isis to al-Nusra "who intended to overthrow the only secular state in the region". Groups "armed and financed by the most backward nations in the world, where there is no democracy or human rights, and supported by Western countries" who wanted to "rid themselves" of Damascus after destroying Libya and Iraq.

War, a financial crisis in Lebanon, US and European sanctions, inflation have triggered a spiral of despair: “70% of families live below the poverty line and the majority needs food, hygiene and medical aid from NGOs to survive” and “the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened an already very serious situation”. “We, the Blue Marists, have paid a heavy price: There were many cases among our volunteers or their parents, and deaths too. We suffered a very big loss with the death of the Marist Brother Georges Hakim, one of the pillars of the Blue Marists, after spending 15 days under assisted ventilation in intensive care unit; Margo, our eldest, spent ten days in the hospital on oxygen. Leyla, my wife, in December and myself last month, also contracted the disease. Thank God, we are now fully recovered “.

Widespread poverty prompted the Christian group to reactivate the distribution of food parcels, carried out between 2012 and 2018 and suspended in 2019 because "convinced that the time had come for families to no longer depend on aid and start living with the fruit of labour". “Unfortunately, the economic situation is currently so bad that people are unable to make ends meet and have begged us to help them again with the food parcels”, "with $ 15 baskets that can feed four people for 10 days and" equal to 80% of the average monthly wage of a worker.”

For the Christian leader, one of the main obstacles to recovery is sanctions: “The sanctions, they say, spare humanitarian assistance. They prevent the trade and import of products, block all financial transactions by all Syrian citizens and prohibit all reconstruction projects. Cynically, European officials claim that the sanctions are targeted and only target those in power and war profiteers and do not affect medications, medical equipment or food. Pure hypocrisy; if the bank accounts of all Syrians are frozen and a Syrian citizen, any one, cannot carry out financial transactions, for example transfers, how can one buy the exempted products?  If you know of any western companies that are willing to provide us with free products, we are takers. And since a lot of products are smuggled from Turkey or Lebanon, they are sold, on the black market, at exorbitant prices, impoverishing the population and enriching the profiteers of the war, which is the opposite of the excuses and motives of those who decreed the sanctions.”

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See also
Marists in Aleppo: among Syrian Christians, solidarity wins over the horrors of an endless war
13/03/2018 10:06
Aleppo vicar: War and sanctions have destroyed Syria’s mosaic
11/03/2021 17:06
WFP: More than half of Syria's population is going hungry
16/03/2023 14:07
Christian activists help seniors living alone in Aleppo amid the COVID-19 emergency
06/07/2020 15:07
Syria’s war is not over, there is more despair than hope
18/03/2020 18:36


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