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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - ROME: The Vatican’s Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO) has announced that it will support job-creation projects in Syria so that people who have fled the war-torn country can return.
The announcement was made on the 10th anniversary of the start of the conflict, which has left several hundred thousand dead, displaced 12 million and left 12.4 million — 60 percent of the population — affected by food insecurity.
“Today, Syria is wounded and bleeding badly … We really must be close to the local population and help it to heal its physical, psychological and spiritual wounds,” said Father Kuriacose Cherupuzhathottathil, secretary of ROACA.
“We all are called to do more and quickly, so that we can help to build there a society based on non-violence, dialogue, respect for human dignity and fundamental freedoms, pluralism, democracy, citizenship, and separation between religion and state,” he added.
“People there need security, homes, schools, jobs, hospitals. This is why we aim to promote projects helping Christians and Muslims in Syria so that they can live a dignified … life.”
Projects financed by ROACO are implemented on the ground by Catholic NGOs. Most of them are in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, where ROACO has financed 26 projects in the past 10 years.
“Each of those projects aims to witness the pope’s love for Syria. He hopes peace and prosperity will reign again there soon,” Cherupuzhathottathil said.
On the 10th anniversary of the start of the conflict, Pope Francis lamented its many devastating effects on the Syrian people.
The war, he said, “has caused one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our times — an untold number of dead and wounded, millions of refugees, thousands missing, destruction, violence of all kinds and immense suffering for the entire population, especially the most vulnerable such as children, women and the elderly.”
The pope renewed his “heartfelt appeal” for all parties to the conflict to “show signs of goodwill, so that a glimmer of hope may open up for the exhausted population.”
He urged the international community to make a “decisive and renewed” commitment to rebuild Syria so that “once the weapons have been laid down, the social fabric can be mended and reconstruction and economic recovery can begin.”
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