A United Nations-backed international conference is currently bringing together members of the Syrian regime and opposition forces with the aim of ending the war in Syria by creating a transitional government and discussing an unprecedented humanitarian response. Leading up to this meeting, UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, joined church leaders from various Christian denominations in Geneva. John Nduna, General Secretary of the ACT Alliance, a Week of Compassion partner, was present.
Josef, a young refugee from Syria, seeks shelter in one of the camps hosting millions of others like him. Photo Credit: ACT Alliance/Lutheran World Federation/Magnus Aronson
“(This gathering in Geneva) is a unique opportunity to stop fighting,” Nduna said after the meeting. “All the parties should step up to this responsibility and accept that they will have to compromise certain positions. If this chance is missed, I am afraid the war may go on for much longer.”
“It is remarkable that we have come this far in the conflict without clear steps towards stopping it. I urge all parties to stop executions of civilians, to implement a ceasefire and to respect all humanitarian principles.”
Through ACT Alliance, Week of Compassion has helped provide emergency assistance to displaced Syrians and host communities since war began in 2011. This has included provisions of health care, food, shelter and education to almost half a million Syrians both within the country and in neighboring Jordan and Lebanon, primarily in refugee camps, as well as to communities hosting refugees.
The UN estimates that 6.5 million people are internally displaced and a total of 9.3 million need humanitarian assistance, nearly half of whom are children. Nearly 2.2 million refugees have been registered in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Over 100,000 people have been killed and many more injured, and civilians in Syria are facing a severe lack of food, water and access to health care.
“International humanitarian law stipulates that the wounded and sick should obtain medical care without delay” said Nduna. “Parties to the conflict need to take all possible measures to ensure the necessary medical care and the protection of patients. Hospitals need to be weapon free zones. Geneva II needs to ensure that international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles are adhered to.”
In addition to humanitarian aid, Nduna challenged the nations in attendance to work for peace: “The international community must put more efforts towards finding a political solution and peace in order to avoid the suffering of millions.”
Week of Compassion staff continue to monitor the situation on the ground in Syria, which remains violent even as talks continue. As the ACT Alliance responds, so will we. In addition to keeping Syria in your prayers, please consider responding to the needs of refugees and others displaced by the ongoing conflict by putting your Compassion into Action and partnering with us.
Monitoring Domestic Issues
Week of Compassion is also continuing to monitor issues across North America, including wildfires in California, ongoing needs connected to the recent chemical spill in West Virginia, and any needs that may emerge from the bitter cold across the Northeast and Midwest. As needs emerge, we will respond.
This week's responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Virginia, Food Security
Georgia, Emergency Refugee Assistance
California, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Philippines, Typhoon Relief
El Salvador, Volcano Relief
Nepal, Cold Wave Relief
Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Oklahoma, Long Term Tornado Recovery
North America/United States, Ecumenical Poverty Initiative