04/29/2019, 23.12
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Maronite Archbishop of Damascus: Syria reduced to misery by the war and the embargo

by Samir Nassar*

Archbishop Samir Nassar recounts the devastation caused by the conflict to the country and its people.  In 2006 it was rare to find people asking for help or charity.  Today it is "impossible" not to meet someone "in need".  The conflict has moved from the military to the economic battlefield.  In Astana a new round of (fruitless) meetings.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - Eight years of war in Syria have "destroyed" a country in which, in 2006, was a hive of opportunity, while today "it is impossible" not to meet a citizen "not in need".  This is what the Maronite archbishop of Damascus, Samir Nassar states in a testimony entrusted to  AsiaNews. The prelate condemns the embargo that "has engulfed the Syrian people", a population that has been "abandoned in a state of misery".

Meanwhile, on the international diplomatic front, there has been a meeting between the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey in the context of the talks in Astana (capital of Kazakhstan, now renamed Nour Sultan in honor of the former president).  A trilateral party that has been launched for some time between nations on opposite sides in the context of the conflict and parallel to the peace talks (unsuccessful) promoted by the UN, which has failed so far to reach a real breakthrough. THe meeting will focus on the situation in Idlib, one of the last bastions of the country still in the hands of the anti-Assad opposition and jihadist groups.

 In spite of the international maneuvers, the reality for the Syrian people - as underlined by the Archbishop of Damascus - is of a "deeply wounded" humanity.  Here is what he writes to us.



When I arrived in Damascus in 2006 I hardly ever met anyone asking for aid. Querying this fact I was helped by a fellow priest who told me that this was normal in a country where education and hospital facilities are free:  low salaries were enough for everyday needs.  There was no need to beg. 

Eight years of war have destroyed an entire country and its peaceful people: unmerited destruction, 600,000 deaths, 12 million refugees and homeless exiles, a paralyzed economy, worthless money, and. ever-rising inflation, all with a crushing embargo. .

Families are saying now: we were better off with bombs flying around us. We could take shelter and hide somewhere. .How can we get away now with an economic war knocking at the door?


The economic struggle is fast taking the place of the violent military interventions and touches all social classes; the embargo on anything from Iran has engulfed the Syrian people who are seemingly forgotten and left in misery. .

If it was hard to meet a poor Syrian in 2006, today it is impossible not to come across a Syrian who is not living in need whilst facing impossible social problems, all crowned by  a constant lack of work, and therefore continual unemployment.   

How difficult it is to see those families torn apart more and more, and obliged to continually beg to stay alive. However, the hardest is not that of seeing people in need but how their human dignity is so wounded.  Bitterness can be seen so easily in the faces which do not look one in the eye in order to avoid further humiliation.  

In the face of this hurt and broken people the Church keeps looking at the EMPTY TOMB.

                                                                                                                   +Samir Nassar

                                                                                                                            Maronite Archbishop of Damascus

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