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Syria: Mgr. Khazen (Aleppo), “they are dividing the garments of our country”

“They are dividing the ‘garments’ of our country. We are afraid of a partition of Syria. Is it right that an entire people should suffer like this for economic and political interests?”. This is the complaint of Mgr. Georges Abou Khazen, Franciscan priest of the Custody of the Holy Land and Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, who took stock of the war in Syria, now entering its eighth year, in an interview with SIR news agency. “Again it is hell here. Bombs rain down on us and the poor Syrian people never cease to suffer. Why all this? When will this end?”, the apostolic vicar asked. “Every time a shred of hope is born, it is buried again by the bombs. Every time tentative steps forward are taken for the resumption of negotiations, we are forced to backtrack. Why this?”. The Syrian tragedy has no end. Daesh? “It seems defeated, but that is not the case – Mgr. Khazen responded -. Daesh is a kind of Trojan horse for the powers involved in the conflict. They need it to shift the conflict in Syria from one point to another, depending on their interests. Daesh, however, is not the only player on the Syrian battlefield. There is the al-Nusra Front and many other affiliated groups controlled by all the regional and international powers involved in this proxy war. They are recruited, trained and armed by them: this is the biggest obstacle to dialogue between the Syrian parties”. In the meantime, the death and injury toll is still rising in Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Idlib Afrin – it is an appalling tragedy. According to Unicef, 60 children were killed and many others were wounded during the ongoing fighting there in the month of January alone. “We are saddened – Mgr. Khazen continued -. People are suffering and wonder what will happen next. There are thousands of families, women and elderly people who are trapped by the bombs of the warring parties. These people are the weakest part of the population. But above all, there are thousands of malnourished, abandoned and orphaned children who wander alone and need any form of material and moral assistance”. These little ones become prey to the warring armed factions: “In some areas, especially those controlled by Daesh and al-Nusra – the Franciscan priest explained -, children are enrolled, trained for war and sent to fight”. “Jesus is suffering on the cross for the whole population of Syria, without distinction of ethnicity and faith. We are one body. The war – the vicar recalled – has removed the Syrians from their lands and homes, half the population are refugees, hundreds of thousands of people are dead, millions are wounded, and at least ten thousand people were abducted, vanished without a trace, and we do not know anything about their fate. What else do these powers want from us?”. “We will not lose hope because we have the certainty that our destiny is not in the hands of a man or a superpower. Our destiny – he concludes – is in the hands of God, a Provident Father. It is in Him, and only in Him, that our salvation lies”.

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