Pope Francis marked the 10th anniversary of the start of Syria’s gruesome civil war, urging the world in his Sunday Angelus address on March 14th not to forget the suffering of the country’s “martyred” people.
March 15th is widely used as a date to mark the beginning of the war, which erupted in 2011 when demonstrations against the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in cities across the country. April saw Assad deploy the army to suppress the protests.
Soldiers fired on protestors. Chaos ensued.
At least 400 thousand lives and untold billions of dollars in destruction later, the country remains unreconciled to itself, while foreign powers with interests in the region have made Syria a theatre for their proxy wars. The US and other western nations have supported more moderate rebel groups, while Russia and Iran have backed the government.
“Ten years ago,” Pope Francis said on March 14th, “the bloody conflict in Syria began, which has caused one of the most serious humanitarian catastrophes of our time.”
In the Angelus address on the eve of the anniversary, pope Francis decried “an unknown number of dead and wounded, millions of refugees, thousands disappeared, destruction, violence of all kinds, and immense suffering for the entire population, especially for the most vulnerable, such as children, women, and the elderly.” He prayed for an end to the conflict and called for renewed international commitment to aid rebuilding efforts.
“I renew my heartfelt appeal to the parties to the conflict,” Pope Francis said, “that they show signs of good will, so that a glimmer of hope can open up for the exhausted population.”
“I also hope for a decisive and renewed commitment that is constructive and supportive from the international community,” Pope Francis wen on to say, “so that, once arms have been laid down, the social fabric can be mended and reconstruction and economic recovery can begin.”