Sanctions against Syria “benefit no one”

sanctions against Syria

The Vatican’s top envoy to the Middle East, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, has called for an end to sanctions against Syria, which he says “benefit no one” and are hindering earthquake relief efforts in the country.

Gugerotti visited Syria and Turkey from 17-21 February to express Pope Francis’s support for earthquake victims and to coordinate relief efforts.

The archbishop said that the country’s infrastructure has been severely weakened by sanctions, making it difficult to transfer funds or obtain visas for aid workers.

The US Treasury Department announced on 10 February that it would exempt relief efforts from its sanctions on Syria for 180 days. However, analysts say the long-term impact of sanctions on the country’s infrastructure is the main obstacle to distributing aid.

Gugerotti noted that much of the affected territory is controlled by rebel groups who must allow aid to pass through to reach victims, but some groups block aid entirely.

In such cases, religious communities have intervened to provide aid through “more or less legal” channels. The archbishop cited the work of a Franciscan community in northern Syria that has helped to deliver aid to those in need.

Christians and Muslims united

During his visit, Gugerotti met with Catholic relief organisations, religious congregations and leaders from the region’s Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim communities.

In Damascus he also visited a mosque that provided shelter to families left homeless by the earthquakes. Throughout the country, he said, Christians and Muslims are united in their hope for God’s help in the face of the ongoing crisis.

Pope Francis has urged the international community to provide urgent aid to those affected by the earthquakes. He has called for an end to the conflict that devastated Syria for over a decade.

Gugerotti called on countries to consider the “concrete good of the people” rather than just their political goals. He said that the alternative to failed political solutions is chaos.

The archbishop also said that some aid is not reaching victims because countries providing aid through rebel groups “don’t verify where this money goes and to whom”.


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