Fr. Firas Lutfi says Syrians “prefer to die of coronavirus and not by hunger”

Fr. Firas Lutfi, a Franciscan friar with the Custody of the Holy Land has first-hand experience in Syria, living in Aleppo, before, during and after the war. 

He participated in a Zoom conference with Rome Reports Premium and Stand Together, explaining the plight of Christians in the country.

ANTONIO OLIVIE
CEO, Rome Reports
“It’s interesting for us to do it with the topic of persecuted Christians. Few people are talking about this topic. It’s important to raise awareness, so we are committed in this purpose.”

MELISSA BUTZ
Senior English Correspondent
 “I know we’re almost in the 10th year of war in Syria, so can you tell us a little bit about that and what your experience was like.” 

FIRAS LUTFI
Franciscan friar, Custody of the Holy Land
Before the war, the number of Christians was 2 million, 8 percent of the entire population. Now, I don’t have an idea. We don’t have an exact statistic of how many Christians there are now. I assure you, maybe more than half of the entire Christian population left the country, unfortunately.

He says while coronavirus numbers aren’t very high in Syria, the effects of the lockdown are leading those in extreme poverty to starvation. 

FIRAS LUTFI
Franciscan friar, Custody of the Holy Land
I can assure you that one of my friends, one day I called him to say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ He said to me, ‘I prefer to die of coronavirus and not by hunger. I cannot afford to see my children dying in front of my eyes, without [being able to] do anything.”

However no matter what situation comes, Fr. Firas insists the friars will never abandon the Christians in this land, the birthplace of Christianity. He only hopes the international community and brothers and sisters in the faith will continue to speak out about the situation and take an interest in the lives that are still being destroyed there.