Syria, nine years later: the crisis has just begun

Giacomo Pizzi18 March 2019

“The crisis in Syria is not over yet; let’s say that it has just begun ”. Father Ibrahim Alsabagh, pastor of the church of St. Francis in Aleppo, said this a few days ago and we, while the country is entering its ninth year of war, we can only repeat it with force: the crisis in Syria has just begun, or rather, a much more painful and much deeper phase of crisis has just begun. Certainly we no longer speak of violent fighting, we no longer speak of bombs and massive destruction, even if we still fight in some areas of Aleppo and the future of Idlib, where the last Jihadist resistance was concentrated, is uncertain. Here, Fr. Hanna Jallouf and Fr. Luai Bsharat, the last two religious left in the area to serve the communities of the villages of Knayeh and Yacoubie, live as “sheep among wolves”.

There it is still fought, but a test no less onerous falls on the rest of the country. “Even if the missiles – says fra Ibrahim – have stopped falling on us in Aleppo, we know for sure that emigration still continues. The main reason, stronger than all the terrible circumstances facing the country, is the feeling of insecurity in the wounded hearts “. An insecurity in relationships with others and fear that affects young people above all. Those remaining, because entire generations of boys have fled the country or died fighting and for this reason the ratio between boys and girls is 1 to 12, marriages have drastically decreased and those who would like to get married cannot do so because they live below the poverty line , he has no way of getting food and medicines, he has no home and he cannot find work.

Furthermore, we cannot ignore the at least 4 million children between 0 and 9, who have seen nothing but war; of these at least 2,000 only in Aleppo, they live abandoned among the rubble with no father or mother, isolated from the community because they are considered sons of sin. All of them grew up hurt deeply in the heart, without desires or dreams. They do not talk, they do not laugh, they do not play: they are suffering from child depression, they are distracted at school, grumpy, closed up on themselves in a distorted reality made of violence and terror. And in a daily life where even relationships between adults are determined by uncertainty, suffocate, have suicidal tendencies and are violent with others.

“It would take a doctor of the soul – Fr. Ibrahim says again – a doctor who can accompany the little ones as the adults, in a journey of psychological recovery. But in Homs, a ghost town, in Aleppo, composed of 70% of the rubble, or even in Damascus, surrounded by factories and showrooms buried by the sand, as in the rest of Syria, by doctors so there are no more “.

In these eight years of conflict, we of the Association pro Terra Sancta have always supported the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land and the Syrian people with many activities. We did it thanks to the generosity of many of you and we want to continue to do so with greater commitment. This is why we ask you to continue to assist us now that the crisis is getting darker.

We ask you to assist us as we operate in Idlib, alongside Fr. Hanna, Fr. Louai and the communities of Knayeh and Yacoubieh. We ask you to assist us where the bombing is over: in Damascus in the distribution of medicines, in the hospital, in activities with children and young people; in Aleppo with Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh, in the distribution of food parcels, medicines, basic necessities, in the reconstruction of houses and in the support to the Franciscan Care Center where about 250 children receive the necessary psychological support and carry out games and study activities that awaken in they want to live and make them regain self-confidence.