Maronite Archbishop asks: Is Syria a forgotten land?


Street in Homs

Street in Homs

Archbishop Samir Nassar, Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, has sent this open letter:

It is said often that the Syrian war is the worst and cruelest seen by the world since the Second World War.

The fact that seemingly much of the violence has died down has made us wonder if Syria is remembered at all by most of the world, whereas it is in fact overwhelmed by misery and weighed down by grave problems.

What a chaotic scene in reality

1. 600 000 dead with only some buried in dignity, and many others in collective graves. All this has meant that many families live in perpetual sorrow and emotional instability.

2. 200 000 have disappeared, including 2 Bishops and 4 priests ; this has made life a nightmare for those who grieve for their loved ones - parents, friends, and the Churches who have no news of them.

3. 13 000 000 refugees - a very heavy burden as a consequence of this world war game on the Syrian territory … whole populations who suffer in silence and despair. Bitterness and a loss of meaning to life...A broken people, scattered and searching for a future…

4. 95,000 hands cut off, feet amputated or paralyzed in a country which is ill prepared to handle these sort of problems alone and the subsequent psychological and health consequences...

5. 2,500,000 dwellings demolished or destroyed. All these ruined buildings block the return of refugees and emphasize the need to deal with the housing crisis. This is all without counting whole industrial zones flattened and the damage done to the basic infrastructures. ...

6. We need to take into account the block on economic progress and especially too the small number of people deprived of the help of the help given before by immigrants. Local currency is valueless, and inflation has risen alarmingly; the exodus of the young has marked the remaining hopes for the future growth. It is quick and easy to destroy a country but rebuilding is slow and lengthy.

Faced with these scenes of desolation the Church in Syria, although very much the minority, can not fall into the role of a mere spectator. She is a strong witness of the Spirit and the Light, which it brings. She is the sign of a Presence and a witness in the domain of health care, education, pastoral work with the young, family support, accompanying fragile family groupings, and supporting in every way the less fortunate. All of this is done in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.

If the world has forgotten Syria the Lord is watching over her and will not let the boat flounder!

Christmas 2018

+ Samir NASSAR

Damascus Maronite Archbishop

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