RCH joined the initiative of the Swiss based global humanitarian organisation, the Christian Solidarity International (CSI) urging to stop sanctions against Syria. Over 90 senior leaders called on the new U.S. president Joe Biden to lift the economic sanctions "that kill, displace, impoverish and harm Syrian civilians", as the UN Special Rapporteur for Unilateral Coercive Measures, Prof. Alena Douhan appealed for at the end of December." RCH supports the appeal together with its partner churches in the Middle East, the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL) and the Armenian Evangelical Community in Syria (UAECNE Syria).
"Ten years ago Syria was a breadbasket for the region. Today it is on the verge not just for hunger, but starvation according to the World Food Program (WFP). After the Syrian civil war began in 2011, the U.S. imposed broad economic sector sanctions as an instrument for regime change. Last June, the WFP’s Director David Beasly warned, that half of the Syrians were going to bed hungry and that the country was on the brink of mass starvation," reads in the open letter.
Sanctions on Syria make it extremely difficult to import the medications and medical equipment necessary to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and other illnesses and conditions, such as cancer, kidney failures and schizophrenia.
“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
Bishop Dr. István Szabó, acting president of the Synod expressed support and solidarity with Syrian partner churches on behalf of the Reformed Church in Hunagry in joining the initiative of CSI and signing the open letter to U.S. president Joe Biden and European Council president Charles Michel.
Bishop Szabó, who headed RCH's delegation in Syria in 2019, addressed also Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to support the international appeal and intervene for the sake the Christian communities in Syria supported by the Hungarian Government in the framework of the Hungary Helps program.
Syrian partner churches of RCH, including NESSL and UAECNE, have repeatedly urged the US Government and the international community to lift the "deadly" sanctions. "Caesar Act" has imposed additional sanctions on Syria last summer. "While the Syrians have sacrificed a lot over the years of war to triumph over terrorism, the United States government has decided to punish them with an additional blockade that will affect the Syrian people's daily sustenance, health, and the future of their children," reads in a letter about the "malice" of the sanctions issued last July by Joseph Kassab, General Secretary of NESSL, and supported by American partner churches.
Harout Selimian and Joseph Kassab
Harout Selimian, President of the Armenian Evangelical Community in Syria has also expressed his concern, in an interview with the German organisation Gustav Adolf Werk: "The already poor living conditions in Syria have deteriorated dramatically since mid-June due to the US sanctions. The sanctions are actually intended to hit members of the government, but they mainly hit the Syrian people," said the minister of the Armenian evangelical Bethel Church in Aleppo.
CSI’s International President, Dr. John Eibner stated that the “all of the actors struggling for power and influence, and the various weapons they use, have contributed to the suffering of the past ten years. But today there is growing awareness, that these sanctions are a disproportionate use of economic force and a form of collective punishment of innocent civilians, which harms the weakest, most vulnerable members of society more than those in power.”
The Christian Solidarity International (CSI) is a international Christian humanitarian and human rights organization, campaigning for religious liberty and human dignity, and assisting victims of religious persecution, victimized children and victims of catastrophe. CSI delivers emergency food assistance, medical treatment, and other lifesaving aid to victims of religious persecution and natural disasters in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Nigeria, South Sudan, Pakistan and other hotspots around the globe. CSI is based in Switzerland and present in several countries, including the United States and Hungary.