Updates from Aleppo: “The real problem now is hunger”.
Father Ibrahim Alasbagh describes how the Syrian community is experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic and how the biggest problem is the economic crisis and the risk of starvation, an insurmountable new obstacle for the Syrians who have already been through nine years of war.
There is no doubt, the Coronavirus has reached Syria. This is confirmed by government sources: there are 40 confirmed cases of Covid-19 throughout Syria, but the difficulty of swabs and the very difficult situation in which the country is involved, suggest that the cases may be many more. All the procedures taken by the majority of the states have been adopted: closed schools, forbidden gatherings, forbidden access to public places, closed churches and mosques.
Father Ibrahim shows concern. “We live this moment with great difficulty“, he said during the video conference organized by Pro Terra Sancta to inform its supporters of the Syrian situation.
The Franciscan friar does not hide the seriousness of the situation: “The high prices have skyrocketed. I know a person who works in state offices, a stable job and enough time to support his wife and two children. Today his salary is not enough to buy bread and onions for a month”.
People knock on the doors of the convent for help: food parcels, medicines and cash aid are given to cover expensive surgeries. “The first problem is hunger – continues Father Ibrahim – Today we received a donation and made an extraordinary distribution of money (it doesn’t usually happen) to families to buy 100 litres of diesel oil. Most of it was spent on food”.
“Everyone agrees that the current situation is worse than when the city was under the bombs”. The country is economically devastated and the consequences of the crisis will be disastrous. The neighbouring countries have already closed the border: Lebanon and Jordan have closed their borders. Lebanon is also going through a serious crisis. “We are plunging into an abyss. We risk starvation and we do not know what our future will be like,” says the friar from Aleppo.
However, in the face of all this pain and discomfort, the faith of Father Ibrahim and the Christians of Aleppo has never failed. The friar reflects on the miracle performed on the shores of the Lake of Tiberias by Jesus: the multiplication of loaves and fishes. “He guides our history, he is the alpha and the omega – he tells us with transport – we are his mediators, like the disciples and like them we entrust ourselves to him”.
Father Ibrahim sends a message of hope, sure that the Lord will find a way to help and not starve his own people. He relies on Providence and prayers. For him it is already a miracle that the aid channel provided by Pro Terra Sancta has never stopped, despite the difficulties of the Italians and other European citizens. And he concludes: “Your support is for us an open window on the horizon. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Many times I cannot respond to all the messages we receive, but I assure you that you are present in our hearts and in our prayers. We pray that this nightmare of all humanity will soon end”.