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Revd Harout Selimian, President of Syria’s Armenian Evangelical Church, warns that, “families across Syria are facing unprecedented levels of poverty [and] sanctions are disproportionately affecting Syria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Syrian healthcare system.”
Revd Selimian’s statement can be found below:
“After ten years of conflict, families across Syria are facing unprecedented levels of poverty and food insecurity. Severe humanitarian needs persist across the country and a record number of Syrians are now food insecure.
Large-scale hostilities and mass displacement across the northern governorates, combined with a severe economic downturn, mean that the overall food security situation is rapidly deteriorating across the country, and families require support to meet their needs and rebuild their lives.
WFP estimates that 12.4 million Syrians are now food insecure. This is an increase of 4.5 million in the last year alone and the highest number ever recorded. Years of conflict, displacement, soaring food prices and a decline in the value of the Syrian Pound have affected the lives and nutritional status of some of the country’s most vulnerable people, including women and children. Today, more parents than ever before are struggling to feed their children. The price of basic food items is now 29 times higher than pre-crisis averages.
The conflict that has been raging in Syria for ten years has caused an unbearable level of suffering for all the people in the country. We shall consider the impact of sanctions on civilians, and the impact of the war on all Syrians.
The sanctions that have been placed on Syria by the EU (including the UK) and USA have caused dire humanitarian consequences for Syrian citizens in Government controlled areas (which is 80% of the country) who are seeking to rebuild their lives. The politically motivated goal of causing the downfall of the Syrian Government by prohibiting any foreign political engagement or investment in these areas has failed. Like many we ask whether the goal has anything to do with human rights, or more to do with the furthering of economic and political interests of ‘western’ powers and their aggressions on our people living inside of Syria. Ultimately, it is now the citizens who suffer from the resulting lack of investment in basic services and infrastructure.
Given the legacy of the conflict that has ripped apart a country and its people for more than 10 years, leaving 6.2 million people internally displaced and over 13 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, it is appalling that the people of Syria must face further suffering, inflicted and compounded by economic sanctions.
Furthermore, sanctions are disproportionately affecting Syria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Syrian healthcare system. Medical journal, *The Lancet acknowledged this, saying these, “blunt bilateral instruments, which have not been approved by the UN Security Council and have been opposed by the UN Commission on Human Rights, imposed on Syria in the unsupported belief that they will hasten regime change, have seriously impeded the country’s ability to cope with the pandemic… The Syrian health system, already fractured by years of conflict, is being further destroyed by sanctions.”
The most audible voices about the sanctions from the insiders are,
*Most countries have stopped giving us food and medicine.
*Our oil is stolen under our noses and we cannot say anything about it.
*Our fields are burned by drones that destroy what our daily bread should be.
*The Syrian people are suffering from hunger.
*Food prices have gone up to 29 times compared to pre-crisis and yet we are helpless in making a difference.
*Many are selling their kidneys for money and the number of suicides are increasing.
There is a distorted view of our country through the lies of the media because they do not want the people from around the world to know all the above mentioned truths. Syrian lives matter too. Syria needs your help and Syria needs your voice.
We therefore urge the international communities as well as the political authorities and foreign policy initiatives to not prolong the suffering of the Syrian people. It is the poor who bear the brunt of these actions. They must no longer be used as means of political pressure on the Syrian Government.
Economic sanctions must be stopped.”