As the international community considers its response to the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria, UK-based international development agency Christian Aid, which has extensive contacts in the region, is warning of the humanitarian consequences of escalating military action in Syria.
The charity, backed by a wide range of churches across Britain, continues to call for a political solution to the situation.
Janet Symes, Head of Middle East at Christian Aid, explained: "We believe that a political solution is the only way to achieve lasting peace for the Syrian people.
"We urge the UK Government, and the international community to work through the UN to bring all parties to the table and negotiate a peaceful resolution and a swift resumption of the Geneva peace process.
"If an airstrike is announced, the number of people fleeing Syria will increase dramatically, with catastrophic effects on the already desperate humanitarian situation in neighboring countries, such as Lebanon and Iraq", she added
"An escalation in military engagement is likely to worsen an already precarious humanitarian situation; leading to more civilian casualties and further destruction of infrastructure. It has the potential to jeopardise humanitarian access without bringing an end to the conflict any closer."
Christian Aid has made it clear that it condemns any use of chemical weapons and other indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
The development NGO says it believes all parties must uphold international humanitarian law, ensure the protection of all civilians and seek to resolve the conflict peacefully.
The UK Government’s position must at all times be informed by a robust humanitarian assessment and an analysis of the likely consequences of any action, it declares.
There are now almost two million refugees, of whom one million are children. Over eight million people are in urgent need of assistance. More than 100,000 people have been killed since conflict began in Syria more than two years ago.
* More on Syria from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/syria