Updated: March 15, 2021 06:58 AM GMT
Pope Francis addresses attendees from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's Square during the weekly Angelus prayer on March 14 in the Vatican. (Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP)
Pope Francis has asked the world to pay attention to the sufferings of the martyred people of Syria on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
“Ten years ago, the bloody conflict in Syria began, which has caused one of the most serious humanitarian catastrophes of our time,” Pope Francis said after the Angelus on March 14.
“I also hope for a decisive and renewed commitment that is constructive and supportive from the international community, so that, once arms have been laid down, the social fabric can be mended and reconstruction and economic recovery can begin."
Speaking from the apostolic palace in the Vatican, the pope said that the war has left “an unknown number dead and wounded, millions of refugees, thousands disappeared" and caused "destruction, the violence of all kinds, and immense suffering for the entire population, especially for the most vulnerable, such as children, women and the elderly.”
Pope Francis prayed for an end to the war and promised a renewed commitment from the international community for the rebuilding efforts, Catholic News Agency reported on March 15.
“I renew my heartfelt appeal to the parties to the conflict that they show signs of good will, so that a glimmer of hope can open up for the exhausted population,” he said.
The Syrian war began in 2011 when demonstrations erupted across the country against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad and his Ba'ath Party. The army retaliated by firing on protesters. March 15 is considered the beginning of the war.
The civil war has been fought between the Syrian government and rebels, including moderates like the Free Syrian Army and Islamic separatists like Tahrir al-Sham and the Islamic State; and Kurdish separatists.
Russia and Iran have been backed the Syrian regime, while the West has rallied behind the rebel groups.
Cardinal Mario Zenari, the Vatican’s diplomat in Syria for the past 13 years, has said the Syrian people are now been hit with a “poverty bomb” amid the pandemic.
According to the World Bank, the country has suffered infrastructure damage worth at least US$197 billion during the civil war.
According to the UN refugee agency, more than 5.6 million people have left Syria since 2011.
“Let us all pray to the Lord that so much suffering in beloved and tormented Syria will not be forgotten and that our solidarity revives hope,” Pope Francis said.