ATCHANÉ, Lebanon — In a meeting with US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II addressed his concerns about the negative consequences of Western and US sanctions on the lives of ordinary people in Syria. In a post on the Patriarch’s official Facebook page, he stated that he discussed with Ambassador Shea, “the effects of the sanctions on the people as well as the humanitarian challenges that are affecting them and the role of the church in supporting the needy and offering help to them.”
Patriarch Aphrem II, who resides in Daramsuq (Damascus), met the US Ambassador at his residence in Atchané.
The Patriarch has previously spoken in favor of lifting Western sanctions against Syria. According to the Patriarch, the unjust and crippling economic measures imposed by the West lead to much suffering among the people of Syria and prevent the country’s reconstruction. Patriarch Aphrem II has previously stated that: “It is now undisputed that the imposition of these crippling economic sanctions has worsened the humanitarian crisis in Syria. They severely limit access to food, medical equipment and life-saving medicines.”
He is not the only patriarch to speak out. Throughout the decade-long civil war, several patriarchs have called for the lifting of sanctions. In 2021, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Mor Yawsef III Younan reiterated his call for international sanctions against Syria’s suffering population to be lifted. He called on, “international decision-makers and all those of good will to make efforts to lift the unjust sanctions imposed on the Syrian people, whose suffering is intensifying day by day. It is neither fair nor logical to condition the lifting of sanctions on a so-called political solution while ordinary people are impoverished and suffering from hunger, disease, and humiliation.”
Patriarchs living in Syria and neighboring Lebanon, where the Syrian intelligence services are still actively involved, are often cautious with public statements about governments and government officials since their Churches and believers exist in precarious conditions.
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