"Regime of calm" in Damascus extended by 48 hours

2016-05-02 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The Syrian army confirmed on Monday that a “regime of calm” has been extended for a further 48 hours around Damascus, the country’s capital.

This cessation of hostilities in the capital comes after a resurgence of violence in the country’s northern Aleppo region, which has seen more than 250 people killed in the last 9 days, and threatens to destabilize the 9 week truce put in place by UN officials.

Vatican Radio’s Georgia Gogarty spoke with Patrick Nicholson, the Director of Communications at Caritas Internationalis, about the current situation, following his trip to Damascus last week.

Listen:

Nicholson described Damascus as “calm when you go there”, however there is an “air of tension”. People are choosing to continue with their daily lives, and attempting to live as normally as possible despite the constant threat of air strikes and suicide attacks, as was the case last week.

When asked about the state of the rest of the country, Nicholson said people “need everything”, from healthcare to clean drinking water. Although there is general impoverishment throughout Syria due to “rampant” inflation and lack of basics, areas that aid agencies cannot reach in particular face “a severe humanitarian crisis”.

Caritas Syria is providing “an array of help and aid across the country”, including food, clothing, paying rent and counselling in order to help those, particularly children, to overcome some of the trauma they have experienced.

Talking about the future of Syria, Nicholson said all parties should be involved in continued dialogue and that the international community “must stop sending guns and fighters and supporting different warring factions” in order to ensure peace. He stressed the importance of Pope Francis’s call for all to respect the cessation of hostilities, saying that not only do his words have an impact on the work of Caritas but in Syria itself. According to Nicholson he is the “one world leader who is speaking out on the subject” and reminding the world about the terrible situation the country is facing. 

(from Vatican Radio)