The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has joined other Christian bodies in calling upon participants in the Geneva 2 conference to pursue just peace in Syria.
The WEA has stressed that it fully endorses the statement ‘an urgent call to action for a just peace in Syria’ that was prepared by Christian leaders from Syria, the Middle East Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and the Holy See.
The statement urges Geneva II participants to "pursue an immediate cessation of all armed confrontation and hostility within Syria," to "ensure that all vulnerable communities in Syria and refugees in neighboring countries receive appropriate humanitarian assistance", and to "develop a comprehensive and inclusive process toward establishing a just peace and rebuilding Syria."
Amid the civil war that has developed in Syria since early 2011 and all the related suffering, there is strong evidence that in some parts of the country Christians are suffering simply for being Christians, points out the WEA.
"We are deeply concerned for the Christian community in Syria. Like all minority groups they need protection from the very real threats that have been made against them. In addition, it is imperative that as the future shape of Syria is being determined, Christians who have had a presence in the land for two thousand years be represented," said Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary General of the WEA.
Christian leaders in Syria have asked the WEA and the worldwide Christian community to join them in their prayers for the Geneva II conference. Specifically that individual agendas of both parties will be laid aside, keeping the interest of the people of Syria in mind; that the conference will have the goal to cleanse Syria from all fanatical and fundamentalist groups on all sides; and that the Church will play a major part in reconciliation.
Furthermore, the WEA also urges the international community to support Syria’s neighboring countries that are serving as hosts to myriads of refugees.
"With the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries we are calling upon the worldwide Christian community to join governments, international civil society agencies and the United Nations in increasing its humanitarian aid," Dr Tunnicliffe said.
"It would be an absolute disaster if these host countries were severely de-stabilised by the magnitude of the influx of vulnerable people."
At a gathering of United States Congress members and high level diplomats in the US State Department in Washington last week, Dr Tunnicliffe spoke about the importance of the protection of Christian minorities in Syria, the need for increased financial support for Christian aid agencies working with Syrian refugees, and the acceptance of more Syrian refugees into the US.
The National Association of Evangelicals, the WEA’s national body in the United States, together with World Relief have also issued a statement on the Syrian Refugee Crisis, asking the US government to "increase its support in order to ensure that civilians are protected, displaced persons are assisted, and those in urgent need of protection are resettled to a third country."
"With the Geneva II conference beginning [imminently], we encourage Christians worldwide to pray for Syria, its suffering people, those who seek refuge and especially our brothers and sisters in Christ," Dr Tunnicliffe concluded.
* World Evangelical Alliance: http://www.worldea.org
* More on Syria from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/syria