BALTIMORE, MD, Dec. 14, 2016 – With a ceasefire collapsing in Aleppo Wednesday, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) supports the efforts of Pope Francis, who appealed for "an end to the violence and the peaceful resolution of hostilities” in Syria. Pope Francis also called for full respect of international law in a letter sent yesterday to the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, through Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Syria.
As a humanitarian organization that has come to the aid of more than 1.25 million war-affected Syrians across the Middle East and Europe, CRS calls on all sides of this conflict to safeguard lives and ensure humanitarian access.
“Peace is the only viable option,” said Sean Callahan, CRS’ chief operating officer, who returned from a visit to the region this week. “Far too many lives have been lost in this conflict, and we join Pope Francis’ call to protect human rights, grant safe passage for all those trying to flee the violence, and for urgent humanitarian aid to reach those who desperately need it.”
Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of the Eparchy of Saint Maron in Brooklyn, NY, and CRS board chairman, added: “In my many travels to the region, I’ve witnessed the harrowing circumstances that millions of Syrians have lived through since the war began nearly six years ago. Let us heed the call of the Holy Father and end the violence and pray for a peaceful resolution to the hostilities.”
The United States must renew the serious international, diplomatic effort to end the fighting in Syria and find solutions to the conflict. CRS urges the U.S. Administration and the international community to work together to provide immediate and impartial humanitarian assistance, and to encourage steps towards an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens. This is the only way the displaced will be able to return home.
“The path ahead will be arduous, but the time is long past for the international community to pursue diplomacy and peace in Syria and the region,” added Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, NM, who chairs the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) International Justice and Peace Committee. “In the final analysis only peace will end the refugee crisis, preserve the Christian presence, and allow inclusive societies to be built that respect the human rights of all.”