Tony Blair phones Christian Aid director about Lebanon crisis
While United Nations wrangling continues over a possible settlement and ceasefire, British PM Tony Blair called Christian Aid director Dr Daleep Mukarji at home on Monday ñ to discuss the UK-based international church development agency's concerns over the Israeli-Lebanese crisis.
Dr Mukarji stressed the initiative came directly from the Prime Minister. ìThe call came direct from Mr Blair and I welcome that. It was informal, private, positive and very constructive. The Prime Minister heard and recognised Christian Aid's concerns.î
Dr Mukarji was not willing to share what the Prime Minister had said in detail. But he gave a few pointers and added that in his opinion Mr Blair was making a genuine effort to understand the problem.
Said the Christian Aid director: ìI firmly stressed that aid agencies such as Christian Aid need unfettered access to those people in need in Lebanon. We need security in which to work and we need to see an end to the killing of innocent people on both sides.î
He added: ìI also said that for any long-term solution to work, the Prime Minister needed to tackle the wider problem of the Middle East, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Mr Blair heard what I said on this and responded positively.î
Churches across the world have called for an immediate ceasefire as the only realistic way to turn the tide from confrontation to negotiation.
Israel has resolutely refused to end its military campaign, however. And Hezbollah says that it will not stop its rocket attacks until IDF forces stop their attacks.
The other major concern of church and humanitarian agencies is about the continuing difficulty of vital aid shipments in the war zone.
Aerial bombardments that have destroyed bridges and parts of the main road between Syria and Lebanon have put enormous pressure on aid agencies and churches trying to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of internally-displaced people, reports Ecumenical News International.
"With the isolation of Beirut, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get what we need," explained Shad Hajj Nassif, emergency coordinator of the Middle East Council of Churches working with the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) International.
[Also on Ekklesia: Hundreds of thousands march against the war in Lebanon 06/08/07 Cana mayor describes bombing horror and calls for Christian support 06/08/05; End this blind faith in violence, says WCC leader 04/08/06; Church group goes directly to Beirut to call for a ceasefire 03/08/06; Development agencies petition Tony Blair for an immediate ceasefire 02/08/06; Unite for MidEast peace, say US Sikhs, Christians, Muslims and Jews 01/08/07; Lebanon destruction a 'crime against humanity' says aid group 30/07/06; No way to security through fighting, says Holy Land bishop 29/07/06; Blair to press Bush for ceasefire as churches push for peace 28/07/06; Israel sees ceasefire hesitancy as a green light for its Lebanon bombing 27/07/06; Mennonites call on USA and Canada to pursue non-violent alternatives 27/07/06; Christian groups urge Blair to back ceasefire calls 26/07/06; South African churches propose bold Middle East conflict transformation process 26/07/06; Why violence cannot solve Lebanon or Gaza Strip showdowns 24/07/06; Christian Aid emergency appeal swings into action 24/07/06; Mennonites issue action alert on Middle East crisis 24/07/06; Middle East churches document and condemn Lebanon horror 23/07/06; US churches appeal to Bush as Israel seizes Lebanese village 23/07/06; Aid agencies say Blair must call for immediate Middle East ceasefire 22/07/06; WCC urges churches to support Middle East appeals 21/07/06; Churches redouble efforts and prayers for an end to Middle East hostilities 21/07/06; Williams laments Lebanon vicious spiral of violence 20/07/06; Gaza, Israel and Lebanon crises are imperiling Middle East security 19/07/06; Historic Galilee sites hit by rocket attacks 18/07/06; Pope condemns Lebanon raids as G8 converges and Blair blames Iran and Syria 17/07/06; Christians call for end to Lebanon violence as Israel vows revenge 16/07/06; Middle East Christians in anguish over Lebanon violence 14/07/06; Embattled Hezbollah backs Iraq 'doves of peace'; Christian warnings substantiated as Israel targets Hamas; Ex-spy wages peace on terror in the Middle East]