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Bishop in Syria warns Western sanctions are plunging the country's people into poverty

Western sanctions against the Syrian government have left the Assad regime unaffected, according to a bishop from Aleppo.

Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart of Aleppo said the sanctions have plunged the country's people into "abject poverty."

"The sanctions have no result other than making people suffer and become poor and miserable. They will have no effect on the government and their policies, because the government is away from the effects of the sanctions. "The government is tranquil where it is. The sanctions could have the contrary effect to what was expected," he said.

Archbishop Jeanbart said the sanctions are causing misery for local people:

"People no longer have enough food, fuel, gas to heat their homes, and electricity. Always, this has been a very hard time for the Syrian people facing these sanctions. The Syrian currency no longer has any value and they cannot eat."         

"The people have no possibility to have loans. They have really lost everything and this is pitiful," he added and called for an end to the sanctions.

The archbishop called on non-governmental organizations to help Christians and others stay in the country rather than encouraging them to leave and enabling them to do so. 

Archbishop Jeanbart added that a dialogue needs to be opened with President Assad. 

The archbishop told ACN: "There needs to be a fair dialogue which leaves open the possibility for the government and the president to present their needs and wants."

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