The use of chemical weapons in Syria is a stark reminder of the appalling impact that the war is having on millions of ordinary people, says Catholic aid agency CAFOD.
Within Syria, more than 6.8 million people are in need of humanitarian aid and more than one-third of all homes have been damaged or destroyed, the NGO points out.
The economy, the education system and healthcare services have collapsed, and there are severe food shortages in many areas. At least 100,000 people have been killed since the conflict began.
"We are calling on the UK government and other governments to work to ensure an immediate ceasefire in Syria, and to bring all parties to the conflict to a peace conference. The only lasting solution to the crisis will be through diplomacy and dialogue. The supply of arms and related material to any side could prolong the fighting and lead to further suffering," CAFOD declared last week.
"We are also calling on all sides in Syria to respect international humanitarian law, and to allow aid to reach all those caught up in the conflict."
CAFOD’s Alan Thomlinson continued: “Our Church partners on the ground in Syria are providing food, shelter and medical supplies to those most in need, regardless of their religious or political ties. But what is needed, above all, is peace. The latest images of children dying have shocked the world, but show the reality of this horrifying war. Our prayers are with the millions of ordinary people whose lives are being torn apart.”
CAFOD is one of relatively few UK aid agencies able to support the delivery of aid inside Syria, it points out.
"The extensive community networks of the Church, even as a minority faith, mean that that is well placed to provide aid in some of the worst hit and most inaccessible parts of the country. We are also working with Church partners to support Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Thanks to your generous donations, our Syria Crisis appeal has raised more £1.8 million."
* CAFOD Syria appeal: http://www.cafod.org.uk/Give/Donate-to-Emergencies/Syria-Crisis-appeal
* More on Syria from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/syria