Italian priest Paolo Dall’Oglio, expelled from Syria by Bashar al-Assad’s government in June, said on Tuesday (September 11) that the country’s people had been abandoned to their fate after a failure to find a diplomatic solution to the country’s problems.
Dall’Oglio, who was ordered out of the country for denouncing al-Assad’s crackdown on a popular uprising, now in its 18-month, was in Paris for talks on Syria with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
After 30 years of running a monastery near Damascus, Dall’Oglio has reinvented himself since his departure as an unofficial diplomat for Assad’s opponents, trying to heal sectarian rifts between activists and create a united opposition.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday he was unequivocal as he described the political and humanitarian problems currently gripping the country.
“The world... has abandoned us to our fate. We have been condemned to a civil war; our democratic revolution has been silenced with blood. Diplomacy has not found the means to make Russia and Iran let Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship fall,” he said.
Asked about the Pope’s upcoming trip to Lebanon, Dall’Oglio was positive but expressed concerns about the security threat posed by such a high profile visitor.
“Everyone is very anxious, the terror risks for not only the Pope’s security but also to the people who will come to meet him is very serious. I’m sure that all measures which needed to be taken on for security have been put in place. The Pope is considered important by Muslims as well, so I think that everyone will want to protect him,” he said.
The visit, set to begin on Friday (September 14), is intended to focus attention on the problems and aspirations of the Middle East. Pope Benedict XVI is also expected to urge for an international solution to the Syrian conflict.