WelCom June 2020:
Cardinal Mario Zenari, Vatican ambassador to Syria, has urged the international community not to forget the country during the Covid-19 pandemic, and appealed for the international community to help Syrian refugees.
In a video message shown at the May 20 presentation of last year’s report of the Jesuit Refugee Service’s Centro Astalli, Cardina Zenari recalled how when Pope Francis spoke to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See in January 2019, he cautioned attendees against ‘the cloud of silence that risks falling over the war that has devastated Syria over the course of the past decade.’
Now in its 10th year, the conflict has left thousands dead and millions displaced, 6 million of whom are displaced internally.
In this environment, the coronavirus pandemic could be devastating. Though Syria still only has 58 total reported cases of Covid-19 with three deaths [22 May 2020], fears are ever present that should the outbreak worsen, it would spark more upheaval and completely break down an already crippled healthcare system.
Syria’s borders have been closed and schools, universities and places of worship shut down since March 12. Later that month, a curfew was implemented, barring citizens from going out for large parts of the day. However, with a large percentage of the population living in poverty, self-isolation in crowded houses without a paycheck is impossible.
Catholic aid agencies have advocated for the lifting of international sanctions in order to allow much needed humanitarian aid into the country.
In his video message, Zenari praised the humanitarian organisations providing aid to Syria and to Syrian people who have fled and are now living as refugees.