Speaking to Crux about the state of the crisis 10 years into the conflict, Giampaolo Silvestri, secretary general of the AVSI Foundation, which carries out development and humanitarian projects in Syria, said that “fighting in Syria for the most part is over, but the bomb of poverty has exploded.”
The Congregation for the Eastern Churches has set up an emergency fund responding to the urging of the Holy Father not to abandon those who are suffering, especially the poorest, during the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 epidemic.
On behalf of Pope Francis, ten ventilators were donated and will be installed in the three hospitals supported by the project “Open Hospitals”, started in 2016 thanks to the initiative of Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, and in partnership with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
The Apostolic Nuncio in Syria recalls the main activities of the Open Hospitals project: about 30,000 people have already received treatment in Damascus and Aleppo, and the goal is to reach a total of 50,000 people.
Many Syrian women have to support their families alone. Thanks to the Italian Agency for Developing Cooperation funds and in collaboration with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, AVSI works in Eastern Ghouta to help Syrian widowed women start small agribusinesses.
“I spent months immobilized. I couldn’t walk or work. I couldn’t even afford to buy candy for my son,” remembers Ibrahim.
On September 14, addressing the participants of a meeting to discuss the responses to the crisis in Syria and Iraq, the Holy Father praised the great work carried out through the open hospitals project to provide healthcare to the poorest in Syria
On Thursday, February 16, 2017, AVSI Foundation officially launched the project Open Hospitals, which aims to enhance and empower three Catholic hospitals in Syria. The event took place in Rome at The Agostino Gemelli Teaching Hospital, which runs the Gemelli Foundation, AVSI’s partner in this project. The other partner is the Cor Unum, Pontifical Council in charge of directing and coordinating the organizations and charitable initiatives of the Catholic Church. Gemelli Foundation has already contributed to the Open Hospitals project with 1 million Euros. AVSI will run the project for three years and it aims to create 42,000 new hospital beds per year.