Catholic World News

Syrian conflict is the victim of a Middle East power struggle, papal envoy says

June 29, 2017

The Vatican’s apostolic nuncio in Syria described that country’s suffering as a “humanitarian catastrophe” in a lengthy interview with La Stampa.

Ciiting the judgment of the UN’s High Commissioner of Human Rights, Cardinal Mario Zenari said that the situation in Syria is “the worst humanitarian disaster caused by man since World War II.”

Cardinal Zenari reported that more than 400,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war, and 85% of the population is now living in poverty. Hospitals and clinics have been destroyed, so that those wounded in the fighting are not receiving proper treatment. Young people and those with technical skills are emigrating, compounding the problems that Syria will face in recovery if and when the war ends.

Regarding the nature of the civil war, Cardinal Zenari says that Syria is being torn apart by other powerful nations, and laments that several different countries now have troops on the ground. He suggests, however, that if a diplomatic accord could be reached between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two main rivals for power in the Middle East, “then much of the problem in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen would be resolved.”

Questioned about the rise of the Islamic State, the cardinals says that it is “an extra blight,” but not “the core of the Syrian problem.”

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