Rome Newsroom, Mar 25, 2021 / 05:20 am (CNA).- An Italian cardinal who remained in Syria for the entire duration of the 10-year civil war has said that he fears “time is running out” to rebuild the country as it descends into deeper poverty.

Cardinal Mario Zenari was stationed in Damascus as the papal envoy when pro-democracy protests first broke out in its streets in March 2011. He was inside the Vatican embassy in Syria’s capital as it was hit by rebel mortar shelling that threatened his life in 2013. And in the past year, he has continuously advocated for the humanitarian needs of 11 million Syrians, who he says have been hit by a “poverty bomb” amid the global economic repercussions of coronavirus measures.

“Peace, I repeat, will not come to Syria without reconstruction and without economic recovery,” Zenari said March 23.

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