Churches demand action on Aleppo

By agency reporter
October 21, 2016

The Joint Public Issues Team of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church in Wales, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church. together with Quakers in Britain, have released a statement calling upon the Syrian and Russian Governments and other forces to stop their bombardment of Aleppo.

The humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo has become a tragedy. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has stated that in the two weeks following the collapse of the ceasefire, 376 people have been killed, one third of whom were children, and a further 1266 were wounded. The international humanitarian organisation Medicines Sans Frontieres said recently that there have been 23 recorded attacks on Aleppo's eight hospitals since the end of July. Seeking medical care has become a danger in itself.

The statement below has been signed by leaders from the six churches representing more than one million people in the UK.

The destruction of Aleppo must stop.

We are appalled by the attacks on civilians by the Syrian Government, Russian and other forces. Life is a gift of God. The targeting and killing of civilians can never be passed off merely as a consequence of war. Aerial strikes on homes, hospitals and aid convoys are never acceptable, under any circumstances.

The responsibility for such attacks lies first and foremost with those who have carried them out. But the frequency of such attacks in Syria also underlines a failure on the part of the international community to uphold long-established principles concerning the immunity of civilians in conflict. Member states of the United Nations should seek to hold to account the parties responsible for indiscriminate attacks on men, women, children, hospitals, humanitarian and rescue workers, which could be construed as war crimes.

The world cries out for an end to the death and destruction in Syria that daily adds to the largest flight of refugees since the Second World War. We join with our brothers and sisters of other churches and other faiths in praying for the people of Syria. We claim no simple solution to a complex political reality but offer the simple message of our faith: that every life is valued by God and that the slaughter must end now.

The signatories to the statement are:

The General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain - the Rev Lynn Green.
The President of the Methodist Church - the Rev Dr Roger Walton.
The General Secretary of the United Reformed Church - the Rev John Proctor.
The Moderator for the Church of Scotland - the Right Rev Dr Russell Barr
Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain - Paul Parker
The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon - the Right Rev John Davies.

* The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) combines the expertise of the Baptist Union, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland in the area of public issues. The Team aims to enable our Churches to work together in living out the gospel of Christ in the Church and in wider society. It aims to promote equality and justice by influencing those in power and by energising and supporting local congregations. http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/

*Read a briefing on Syria from the Joint Public Issues Team here:

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