Western sanctions are crippling Syria's Christian community, say Church leaders

The meeting of Syrian archbishops and members of ACN with Italy's Undersecretary of State Alfredo Mantovano.(Photo: ACN)

Church leaders in Syria say that economic sanctions against the country are crippling its Christian community.

Archbishop Jacques Mourad of Homs told Italian government official, Alfredo Mantovano, that the embargo was making it almost impossible to provide humanitarian assistance in the country. 

He said that the embargo was having a particularly adverse effect on Christians, rather than its intended target - the Syrian government. 

Archbishop Antoine Chahda of Aleppo said that ordinary people were struggling to pay for basic necessities like electricity, food and medicine. 

Bishop Rami Al-Kabalan of Aretusa lamented that the closure or nationalisation of many schools has had a negative knock-on effect on the Catholic education system in the country, affecting learning, interfaith dialogue and the prevention of radicalisation. 

The church leaders were joined at the meeting by representatives of Aid to the Church in Need, which says that the Christian community in Syria has fallen from two million to between 300,000 and half a million today because of the yearslong civil war.

Mr Mantovano told the church leaders that the Italian government would explore changes to the system of sanctions and raise their concerns with its allies.