Damascus patriarchs call for lifting of sanctions against Syria

Source: Catholic Review

Damascus, August 25, 2016


Christian patriarchs residing in Damascus urged the
international community to “stop the siege of the
Syrian people” and to lift international sanctions,
which they say are deepening the suffering.

The three Christian leaders — Melkite Catholic
Patriarch Gregoire III Laham; Syriac Orthodox Patriarch
Ignatius Aphrem II and Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X
— directed their Aug. 23 appeal to “the
international conscience and the concerned

Although “the main goals of imposing these sanctions
are political,” the patriarchs said, they have
affected all Syrian people, “especially the poor and
working class, whose ability to provide their basic daily
needs such as food and medical care are greatly

“Despite the resolution of the Syrian people in the
face of the crisis, the social situation is getting worse
and the poverty and suffering of the Syrian people are
constantly increasing,” the patriarchs said.

In their statement, the patriarchs pointed to specific
consequences that are crippling the country and isolating
it from the rest of the world. Those include the absence
of new investments, a ban on international flights to
Syria, reduced exports to the country and the placing of
some Syrian companies on the blacklist for international
trade, all of which the patriarchs said “are
considered to be economic measures toward the isolation of
Syria from the international community.”

They criticized most Western countries for closing their
embassies and said a ban on international banking
transactions with Syria “puts the people in a
financial difficulty.”

The patriarchs said that in addition to helping to improve
the dire living conditions in Syria, lifting the sanctions
would facilitate efforts of church and humanitarian groups
in providing aid, thus reducing exploitation of the
suffering Syrian people.

“We hope that the international community responds
to the humanitarian appeal of the Syrians: ‘Stop the
siege on the Syrian people! Lift the international
sanctions on Syria and allow this people to live in
dignity, which is a basic right to all the peoples of the

A day earlier, in a meeting with Russian Ambassador to
Syria Alexander Kinshchak, Patriarch Aphrem requested
Russia’s help for the release of two kidnapped
archbishops of Aleppo. Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan
Gregorios Yohanna and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul,
brother of Patriarch John, were kidnapped in April 2013 in
northern Syria while on a humanitarian mission.

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