"One can see long line-ups of cars in the city’s streets, waiting at petrol stations to fill up,” said the clergyman. Food prices have jumped and rockets can be heard at night. Easter celebrations sowed “hope in the hearts”. The Church helps families in difficulty.
Aleppo (AsiaNews) – The people of Aleppo are going through "crucial and difficult" moments because the economic crisis "caused in particular by the embargo" makes everyone’s daily life "complicated," said Fr Ibrahim Alsabagh, speaking to AsiaNews.
The clergyman is attached to Latin parish of Aleppo, northern Syria’s largest city and a major battleground in the country’s civil war after it broke out in March 2011.
For him, the lack of fuel is one of the things that have reduced the quality of life. "One can see long line-ups of cars in the city’s streets, waiting at petrol stations to fill up, sometimes from 7pm till the next day.”
As a result, "There are fewer and fewer cars on the road, and people have to walk from place to place. Food prices and inflation are up.” At night, “the sound of rockets can still be heard, falling on the western part of the city,” where most Christians live.
In recent days, the Trappist nuns in Azeir and the Maronite archbishop of Damascus slammed the United States and the European Union for their sanctions against Syria, which brought the people to their knees.
Yet, for Fr Ibrahim, the people of Aleppo have not stood idle. Holy Week celebrations were the best sign, as joy and participation sowed "hope in hearts".
"We decked out the church with great creativity and paid close attention to the liturgy," the clergyman said. This was done to "appease people’s minds and console everyone, against bitterness and despair".
During the celebrations, churches were always "full of silent and prayerful” worshippers in an “atmosphere full of peace, despite the many concerns."
Born in Damascus in 1971, the clergyman has helped the victims of war, Christian and Muslim. Almost half a million people have died in the conflict with more than seven million displaced.
Ahead of Easter, the priest helped families in difficulty by providing them with a can of olive oil, a tangible token of charity and mercy.
During this period of celebrations, Aleppo’s Christians also undertook series of charitable initiatives aimed especially at the poorest families. "Although it is not easy not to fall into despair, we continue our journey with sure and confident steps, thinking of the future with peace and serenity" in spite of the "sound of war drums".
Thinking about the celebrations, events and meetings that marked the days of Easter, Fr Ibrahim was struck, “above all else, by the look of so many fathers and mothers, the eyes of so many sick people, of so many young people and seniors who benefited from Church help”. This small contribution in a sea of need goes "from food packages to health needs".
"I saw in their eyes a particular light", he said, as if they wanted to say: "It is thanks to you that we have joy in our hearts and can celebrate the Resurrection. Thanks to the charity we have seen in you.”
For the clergyman, "To be alive in Aleppo, today, is a confirmation of the resurrection. Spending the Easter holidays in peace, despite the difficulties [...], still having to eat and drink is a test of the resurrection [...] to be loved, thought, helped through you is the greatest confirmation that Jesus has risen."