Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - "Now in Aleppo everyone says: we were better off under the bombs". This is how Joseph Tobji, Maronite Archbishop of Aleppo, photographs the feelings among the population of the Syrian metropolis, on the day when the umpteenth economic sanctions imposed on Assad's Syria by the USA with the so-called "Caesar Act" enter into force. A provision that is added to the anti-Syrian sanctions extended for a year by the European Union, hitting a population devastated by years of war, while the specter of the coronavirus pandemic reaps victims even within the borders of Syria. "The bomb comes suddenly - adds the Maronite Archbishop in a conversation with Fides - and kills people around the place where it falls. Now, in Syria, there is real hunger, and millions of people have before them the prospect of watching themselves die slowly of an announced death, without possible escape routes".
The scenario described by the Syrian Archbishop is objectively distressing: "The value of the Syrian lira" he tells Fides "has collapsed in a dizzying way: before the war a dollar was equivalent to 50 Syrian lira, now to buy a dollar we need almost three thousand, and the average salary of an employee remains the same, equal to 50 thousand lire, practically less than twenty euros. Stores close, small businesses close, everyone tries to survive with what they find. Those who have the money deposited in the banks of Lebanon cannot even withdraw it, due to the Lebanese financial crisis. Hospitals lack the necessary medicines and equipment for life-saving surgeries, such as stents. If you enter into the depths of the hardships and sufferings of families, you will hear stories that make you cry. Things cannot be any worse".
The so-called "Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act", which obtained bipartisan support at the US Congress last December, presents itself as a package of sanctions against Syrian troops and others responsible for the atrocities committed during the civil war in Syria". But that of 'targeted' sanctions - comments the Maronite Archbishop of Aleppo - is a lie that not even a child would believe. Everyone sees very well what the goal is: to increase suffering in the population to fuel popular discontent and thus produce regime change. But this way of acting is criminal. Putting an entire people in distress at a time like this, where there is also the specter of the pandemic around the world, is inhuman. And the sign that to pursue your goals you are willing to do anything, even to sacrifice millions of people, poor people, families is a diabolical act".
In this situation, even in Aleppo the priority for Archbishop Tobji is to try to keep the timid signs of recovery that had occurred with the end of the conflict. "Next month", Tobji tells Fides, "we will inaugurate the Maronite cathedral after two years of restoration. Made necessary by the devastations suffered during the war. What can we do? We must try to go ahead anyway, in the situation we are in, treasuring small signs of hope. We ask prayers from brothers all over the world".
The Maronite cathedral of Saint Elijah, in the historic Aleppo district of Al-Jdayde, was still without a roof, destroyed by the many mortar rounds that had devastated it during the Syrian conflict, when on the evening of Tuesday 11 July 2017 more than a thousand Aleppins had crowded its open-air aisles and the square in front (see Fides 15/7/2017), to listen to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Mass in C Minor, performed by 45 musicians and 27 choristers of the Damascus Symphony Orchestra together with the members of the Naregatsi choir, animated by local Christian communities. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 17/6/2020).