In 2011, the European Union launched sanctions against Syria, presenting them as “sanctions against certain figures in the regime”, which imposed an oil embargo on the country, along with a block on all financial transactions and a prohibition on trade in a large number of goods and products. This measure continues today, although in 2013 the oil embargo, through some inexplicable decision, was removed from armed and jihadist opposition-controlled areas in order to provide economic resources to so-called “revolutionary and opposition forces”.
In these five years, sanctions on Syria have helped to destroy Syrian society and sentenced it to hunger, epidemics and poverty, encouraging the activism of fundamentalist and terrorist militia fighters who now strike in Europe too. And all this have been added to the casualties of a war that has already caused 250,000 deaths, six million displaced persons and four million refugees.
The situation in Syria is desperate, with food shortages, widespread unemployment, the impossibility of providing medical care, and the rationing of drinking water and electricity. And this is not all. The embargo also makes it impossible for Syrians who settled abroad before the war to send money to their relatives or family members left behind. Also non-government organizations engaged in assistance programs are unable to send money to their workers in Syria. Companies, power plants, aqueducts and hospital departments are forced to close because of the inability to procure spare parts or gasoline.
Today Syrians have the possibility of a better future for their families only by fleeing from their homeland. But, as we see, this solution also encounters many difficulties and causes intense controversy within the European Union. And escape cannot be the only solution that the international community can propose to these poor people.
So we support all humanitarian and peace initiatives that the international community is implementing, in particular through the tough negotiations in Geneva. But while we are waiting and hoping that such expectations might find concrete answers, after so many bitter disappointments, we ask that the sanctions affecting the daily life of every Syrian be immediately removed. The search for the desired peace cannot be divorced from a concrete concern for those who today are suffering because of that embargo whose weight falls on the entire population.
Furthermore, the rhetoric about refugees escaping from the Syrian war appears hypocritical if, at the same time, Europe goes on starving those who remain in Syria, preventing them from receiving medical care and denying them drinking water, work, security and dignity.
Finally, we appeal to the parliamentarians and mayors of every country so that the iniquity of the sanctions on Syria be made known to the citizens of the European Union (who are at present totally unaware of them) and that they should finally become the subject of serious debate and consequent resolutions.
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Organizers of this petition:
- Padre Georges Abou Khazen – Vicario apostolico dei Latini ad Aleppo
- Padre Pierbattista Pizzaballa – Emerito Custode di Terrasanta
- Padre Joseph Tobji – Arcivescovo maronita di Aleppo
- Padre Boutros Marayati – Vescovo armeno di Aleppo
- Suore della Congregazione di San Giuseppe dell’Apparizione dell’Ospedale “Saint Louis” di Aleppo
- Comunità Monache Trappiste in Siria
- Dottor Nabil Antaki – Medico, ad Aleppo, dei Fratelli Maristi
- Suore della Congregazione del Perpetuo Soccorso – Centro per minori e orfani sfollati di Marmarita
- Padre Firas Loufti – Francescano
- Monsignor Jean-Clément Jeanbart – Arcivescovo greco-cattolico di Aleppo
- Monsignor Jacques Behnan Hindo – Vescovo siro-cattolico di Hassakè-Nisibi
- Padre Mtanios Haddad – Archimandrita della chiesa Cattolica-Melchita e Procuratore patriarcale
- Hilarion Capucci – Arcivescovo emerito della Chiesa greco-cattolico melchita
- B. Ignace Youssef III Younan Patriarca di Antiochia dei Siri
- Georges Masri, Procuratore presso la Santa Sede della Chiesa Siro-cattolica
- B. Gregorio III Laham – Patriarca dei Melchiti
*Photos credit: Vanessa Beeley