14 September 2016, The Tablet

Parish priest in Aleppo welcomes ceasefire

Fr Ibrahim Alsabagh describes the desperate situation for many people in the Syrian city

A parish priest in the Syrian city of Aleppo has welcomed the ceasefire announced this week, saying it has enabled those left in his community to “sleep easily” at night.

Fr Ibrahim Alsabagh said he wished the cessation of bombing – which was brokered by Russia and the US over 10 months and announced on Monday – “could be a model for all the future nights” and that “a real peace” that is more long-term would be arrived at soon.

Conditions have been “so so hard for us to live under”, Fr Ibrahim said during an interview with Vatican Radio. “We are some many times without water. We don’t have electricity at all in the city and no-joke, many of our families are living under the level of poverty [poverty line].”

“We are struggling against the desperation of our people,” he said. “Many people are deciding to leave the city and to leave the country and to emigrate outside”.

The Franciscan priest said he was assisting people 24 hours a day spiritually, so that people wouldn't lose their faith, and with humanitarian assistance.

He said many people had lost their homes and were living in tents, without clothes and food.

“Because of this particular case of the war, our work is so so hard and so huge,” he said, explaining the enormous needs of families.   

An estimated 300,000 Syrians have been killed in the five-year war. More than 4.8 million people have fled abroad and an estimated 6.5 million are internally displaced, according to the UN.

The current ceasefire will allow humanitarian access to besieged areas, including Aleppo.

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