We join with Christians around the world to fast and pray today for Syria:
Syrian church leaders have welcomed and endorsed the call of Pope Francis for a day of prayer and fasting for Syria on Saturday, 7th September. The Pope condemned the use of chemical weapons, along with all other forms of violence, and renewed his appeal for urgent effort towards a negotiated settlement rather than military escalation. The Pope’s call has also been welcomed by other religious leaders, including the Grand Mufti of Syria..
The Syrian crisis is increasingly complex, with the chemical weapons attack of 21st August a particularly heinous example of the numerous atrocities perpetrated by a range of parties. Widespread violence between Government and various opposition groups continues, including in the major cities of Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. There are also conflicts between Kurdish groups and opposition groups as well as intra-opposition clashes.
The death toll continues to rise and the number of displaced people grows ever larger. The most reliable estimates suggest that at least four million are displaced within the country and that more than two million are officially registered as refugees in neighbouring countries (many more have not officially registered).
Syrian Christian leaders are appalled by the continuing violence and violations of human rights. Their consistent message is that a solution can only come through political dialogue and that all parties must prioritise the needs of the Syrian people.
The fears of Christians for their own communities have heightened following clashes on 4th September around the historic Christian village of Maaloula, 40 miles north of Damascus, between extremist opposition elements and Government forces controlling that area. Several villagers took refuge in a convent. Footage has emerged suggesting that the opposition forces sought to avoid direct damage to churches, and those forces soon withdrew from the village. However, Christians remain concerned by the influence of Islamist opposition groups in several areas.
Syrian Christians urge that we join in prayer for Syria at this time. They request our prayers that:
a. Peace, justice and reconciliation will be established in Syria
b. Calls for renewed effort to find a political solution will be heeded by all those in authority and with influence
c. There will be effective provision for those internally displaced and for refugees
d. The international community will cease using Syria as a place to pursue their own agendas and act only in the best interests of the Syrian people.