"In recent weeks we have seen a new wave of the exodus of Christians from Aleppo. The families waited for high school to end, then they took their luggage, closed their homes and fled to the coast and to Lebanon, using the only road link with the outside world still viable. Maybe they will come back in four months. Perhaps they will never come back again." So said Armenian Catholic Archbishop Boutros Marayati of Aleppo, according to the Fides news service.
The churchman provided details about the current siege of the city by militants opposed by dictator Bashr Al-Assad. "Now the water supply is back, which had been interrupted for more a week", said the Archbishop, "but there is no electricity. When water is distributed, electricity is interrupted and vice versa. The city is under siege and the areas where there are large power stations and water supply lines are all in the hands of the rebels, that open and close the valves to force the regime to negotiate. We do not know w hat these negotiations aim to reach. We are with the people, and we do not understand very well what is going on around us."
According to the archbishop, the presidential elections to be held on June 3 come during a time of increasing uncertainty and fear. "The election campaign has started, but many fear an escalation of violence, particularly in view of the elections. Anything could happen", explained Archbishop Marayati. He added that the news coming out of the embattled city of Homs is not reassuring. "The siege of the government army has prevailed over the rebels, who evacuated the city center", said the archbishop, "but since then gangs have plundered everything they find in houses that are still abandoned, even in the neighborhood where Christians lived."
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.