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Bishop of Aleppo gives an inside view of life in Syria's wartorn city

(Vatican Radio) The city of Aleppo in northern Syria was the commercial capital of the nation and also a UNESCO world heritage site but much of it now lies in ruins after 2 years of civil war. So what is life like for the inhabitants who live in this city that has borne the brunt of the fighting? A city that is also hosting more than a million internally displaced Syrians. One person who knows only too well is the Catholic Chaldean bishop of Aleppo Antoine Audo. He spoke to Vatican Radio's Susy Hodges about the current realities of daily life in the city where he was born and raised and is now serving as bishop.

Listen to the extended interview with Bishop Antoine Audo: RealAudioMP3

Once Syria's commercial capital and an important industrial centre, Bishop Audo describes how the massive destruction wrought by the civil war has destroyed Aleppo's industries and much of Syria's "economic infrastructure." He says this destruction of all the industries in Aleppo has caused widespread unemployment and he estimates that around "80 percent of the people" are now living in poverty as a result.

Another problem, he says, that is exacerbating these already sky-high poverty levels is the dramatic rise in prices due to the devaluation of the Syrian pound to the dollar. Bishop Audo says many people can't afford to buy food and describes how the Catholic Church through its Caritas charitable network is distributing "food baskets to keep people alive."

The Syrian bishop says another serious problem is that many children are not going to school in some areas of Aleppo and that's because Syrian families displaced by the fighting are living in the classrooms of many of the city's schools. He says the Catholic Church and other Christian volunteers are doing their best to try to organise activities for these children who are not going to school and are also helping in the distribution of food to the needy.


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