By Elise Harris with Catholic News Agency
As the number of civilian victims in Syria's bloody civil war continues to climb, Cardinal Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in Syria, said the situation is “hell on earth,” especially for vulnerable children.
Referring to a statement recently made by the regional director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Zenari said Syria is currently “one of the most dangerous places for children.”
“It's terrible. I always say, it's a massacre of the innocents,” he said, and recalled how a few years ago near Damascus, where the nunciature is located, he met a 10-year-old girl who had both of her legs amputated after being hit by shrapnel from a mortar shell.
He recalled another story of a 15-year-old girl who was on her way back from school with a friend when a splinter from an explosion tore through her cheek and up through her head, killing her instantly.
There is “so much suffering,” Zenari said, adding that Pope Francis' Christmas message for 2017 was “one of the most touching for me,” because it was entirely dedicated to the suffering of children.
From a humanitarian perspective, the situation is “out of control,” he said, and one could write “a book of lamentations” on the Syrian crisis alone.
Zenari, who has served as apostolic nuncio since 2008 and was named a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2016, spoke at a March 9 event for the “Open Hospitals” project, developed by the AVSI organization in 2016 in partnership with the Gemelli Foundation and the pontifical charity branch “Cor Unum.”
The project aims to provide medical care for those living in poverty and supports the activities of four non-profit hospitals in Syria.
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