ASIA/SYRIA - The Jesuits: "Need to start a deep and sincere dialogue for the good of the Syrian people"

Saturday, 21 March 2020 christianity   dialogue   human rights   wars  

Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - "The Syrian population lives in an uncertain and tiring condition, which is becoming unsustainable for the weakest, while there is a significant decrease of the Christian communities". This is what Father Victor Assouad, Syrian Jesuit, and assistant to the Father General for Western Europe report sto Agenzia Fides, describing the situation of the faithful in his country of origin. Already in 2017, the number of Christians in Syria had halved, from 10 to 5% of the population (around 20 million people in 2011). In other areas of the country the collapse was vertical: "In Aleppo, for example, - reports Father Victor - the four years of siege and bombings reduced Christians from 150 thousand in 2011 to the current 35-40 thousand".
"The wounds caused by these nine years of war are enormous - notes the missionary - two thirds of the population, about 6.5 million people, were forced to leave their homes, many about 5 million, fled abroad to Lebanon, Jordan and to Europe".
Even the economic situation, according to the religious, weighs on the population: "While the dollar continues to increase in value compared to the local currency - he notes - the entire national economy is penalized by international sanctions that mainly affect the poorest people". Local sources report that over 80% of Syrians live below the poverty line; 11.7 million people are currently dependent on humanitarian aid to move forward. Among the most alarming data, one above all emerges: 85% of the population (15.5 million Syrians out of 18.2) have almost no access to clean water sources and sanitation, and 6 million people are exhausted.
In the scenario described by Father Assouad, the condition of Syrian Christians appears fragile due to the aging and emigration processes that are involving the communities: "The aging of Christian families is an alarming sign", reports the Jesuit. In percentage terms, they lost 50 to 77% of their members in the various regions compared to the times before the conflict. For Christians in Syria, a sign of encouragement could come from the return home of those who have left. The bishops of Aleppo recently asked for it explicitly. "We need to start a deep and sincere dialogue - Father Assoud concludes - guided by the search for a peaceful solution in favor of the good of the Syrian people and of all peoples in the Middle East". (ES-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 21/3/2020)