By Vatican News
The website of the Franciscan Convent in Damascus’ Bab Touma area features a desperate appeal for help for the people of the city struck by conflict and economic downturn.
The conflict in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions since it began in March 2011. The global coronavirus pandemic and its far-reaching effects are exacerbating their suffering.
“In these difficult times we have no other solution than to turn to your charity, your closeness," says Fr. Bahjat Karakach, the Franciscan guardian of the convent which is attached to the Latin Catholic parish dedicated to the Conversion of St. Paul, in the old part of Damascus where many Christian Churches are to be found.
"As a Church,” he says, “we try to be close to the people, not to leave anyone without bread... but we cannot continue in our mission without your support, without your charity.”
Fr. Karakach explains that most Syrians live in misery due to 10 years of war and destruction and that the Covid-19 pandemic is further impacting the country’s serious economic crisis.
He explains that the currency, the Syrian lire, is plummeting and prices have more than tripled making it increasingly "difficult to buy food and essential goods, meaning that it is impossible for the population to live normally".
"Today a family man would have to work a whole month to be able to buy a couple of kilos of meat,” he explains, and “he would have to work a whole year to be able to pay the school fees of a single child.”
The priests and religious continue to do their best to bring assistance and solace to the people, he says, "we enter the homes of Syrians and find people who have nothing to feed themselves with. Hence the invitation to solidarity to support families in difficulty.”