Pope and Nuncio appeal for end to violence
Pope Francis appealed for an immediate end to the violence in Syria, especially where the war has intensified in eastern Ghouta. He noted that February has been one of the most violent in the seven years of the conflict.
“In these days my thought often goes to beloved and martyred Syria, where the war has intensified, especially in eastern Ghouta,” Francis lamented. “This month of February has been one of the most violent in seven years of conflict: hundreds, thousands of civilian victims, children, women and elderly.
“Hospitals have been hit; people can’t procure for themselves something to eat . . . Brothers and sisters, all this is inhuman. Evil can’t be combated with another evil, and war is an evil. Therefore, I make my heartfelt appeal for violence to cease immediately, for access to be given to humanitarian aid – food and medicine – and for the wounded and sick to be evacuated. Let us pray together to God for this to happen immediately.”
The war in Damascus continues with frequent attacks against the Christian community, confirms the Portuguese religious Sister Myri, who lives in the Monastery of St. James the Mutilated, in Qara. The nun told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) the fighting ” centres on neighbourhoods inhabited by Christians” in Damascus and is the result of the effort of the Syrian army to completely liberate the region from armed militias.
The Sister explained that, as the government forces advance, “jihadists throw rockets and bombs on the various neighbourhoods” in the Syrian capital, which often results in n tragic deaths. “But every now and then there are miracles,” she said. According to the nun, there are reports of attacks in the neighbourhoods of Jobar, Al Midan, Jaramana, Dwel’a and Bap Tuma.
The current situation experienced by Syrians was also confirmed by the Apostolic Nuncio in Damascus, Cardinal Maria Zenari, in a recent interview with the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, in which he described an atmosphere of war and chaos in Damascus.
According to Cardinal Zenari, Syria is still a “battlefield”, a “deluge of fire”, which creates an unsustainable situation for the civilian population. “In the last few days, you had to be careful even to leave the house,” he said, noting that “there is really a lot of fear” among people, to the point that “many parents decide not to send their children to school anymore.”
In addition, he lamented that “humanitarian aid” is only trickling in and people are facing great difficulties, since “they pass their days under the bombs and in the crossfire.”
” Apart from bombs and gunshots, people have nothing to eat. People survive by cooking soups made from the leaves of trees, from herbs. It’s tragic. The scenes are terrible. About 70% of the Syrian population lives in conditions of extreme poverty, “he said.
As Aid to the Church in Need reports, “these new battles in the Syrian capital have gone unnoticed in the international press as if the war was over.”
This reality was also lamented by the Cardinal, who said the defeat of the Islamic State meant only the eradication of part of the problem, since “all who are present in the country with flags, men and arms do not have an agreement among themselves.”
“There is a kind of all against all … You can not forget Syria! We are living a very serious moment. The diplomatic efforts of the United Nations in seeking agreements must be protected. The world must not forget this suffering. This is especially true for civilians, and especially for children,” he added.