04/15/2020, 15.21
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Catholic group calls for an end to Syria sanctions that undermine COVID-19 fight

The New Humanity advocacy group launched a petition addressed to the UN secretary general and the President of the EU Parliament. The comprehensive embargo that is crushing the Syrian people makes them more vulnerable. Sanctions today are "cruel and unacceptable". The goal is to save people by transcending political and ideological orientation. Click on petition to see it.

Rome (AsiaNews) – New Humanity, a Catholic group, has launched a petition addressed to the UN Secretary General António Guterres, US President Donald Trump, European Council President Charles Michel and EU Parliament President David Sassoli.

The petition calls for the "immediate" end to the economic embargo against the civilian population in Syria through urgent and concrete measures and for the removal of the "obstacles" that prevent the "exchange of goods and money" needed to “combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Thousands of people around the world have signed the petition calling for end to EU and US sanctions. Its promoters note that the novel coronavirus has affected humanity as a whole, but not everyone is equal before the disease.

The people of Syria are still at war and are facing the outbreak overburdened by the comprehensive embargo. For this reason, the petition urges the European Union and the United Nations to ease restrictions, especially vis-à-vis medical supplies and financial transactions.

International sanctions have “accentuated” the conditions of vulnerability, the petition says. And “at this moment in history," they are “cruel and unacceptable" because they deprive people of the “aid and support" needed to overcome the novel coronavirus.

“Today, we must consider that the rationale behind the embargo has become outdated, since preserving the lives of the people of Syria is enormously more important,” the petition goes on to say.

In recent weeks, various people who spoke to AsiaNews have slammed the sanctions, asking that they be lifted to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian population.

Critics include the Maronite archbishop of Damascus who spoke from the deep "pit" that is now Syria, the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo who calls the sanctions a “crime" that hits “the people,” and a Christian doctor who considers them an "obstacle" in the fight against coronavirus.

Pope Francis himself in his recent Easter message urged the international community to ease the sanctions against countries like Syria and Iran affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Thousands of people have signed the non-partisan petition, including Pascal Pittet of Terre des Hommes, Jamal Abo Abbas of the Syrian Arab Community in Italy, Sebastiano Caputo of SOS Cristiani d'Oriente, the Blue Marists of Aleppo, and former Italian premier Romano Prodi.

The petition’s goal of “safeguarding the Syrian people goes beyond any political or ideological orientation” and seeks to “avoid being complicit in a catastrophe”.

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