Do not rush into military action in Syria, warns CAFOD

28 August 2013

Child refugees in Lebanon

More than one million Syrians have crossed into neighbouring countries to escape fighting.

With the world debating possible military action against the Syrian government, CAFOD says peace must remain the only priority.

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The alleged use of chemical weapons in Damascus last week highlights how catastrophic the humanitarian situation has become for millions of people in Syria. 

We are continuing to support our local Church partners as they provide aid to the most vulnerable on all sides of the conflict. We are also calling on MPs in the UK not to rush into supporting any form of military intervention.

"The attacks last week shocked the world, and it’s easy to see why the government is keen to do something in response," says Anne Street, CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian Policy.

"But in a very complex situation where we know the only solution will be through diplomacy and dialogue, MPs must consider if any military action would serve only to fuel the war and jeopardise the chances of ending it."

Church leaders in Syria and Lebanon have warned of the possible consequences of Western military action.

Bishop Antoine Audo, the Director of Caritas Syria, said: "If there is an armed intervention, that would mean, I believe, a world war. That risk has returned… We hope that the Pope's call for real dialogue between the warring parties to find a solution can be a first step to stop the fighting."

Father Simon Faddoul from our partner Caritas Lebanon said: "It is a very critical time for Syria and Lebanon. Any possible strike could impact Lebanon directly, with 1.5 million refugees on our soil and an open border that is impossible to close. We certainly pray peace will reign."

Pope Francis called for peace during his Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s Square. "It is not confrontation that offers hope to resolve problems, but rather the ability to meet and dialogue," he said. "I launch an appeal to the international community to be more sensitive to this tragic situation and to commit itself to the maximum to help the dear Syrian nation find a solution to a war which spreads destruction and death."

Over the last few months, CAFOD has supported efforts to push for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. We are also calling on all sides to respect international humanitarian law, and to allow aid to reach all those caught up in the conflict.

CAFOD is one of relatively few UK aid agencies able to support the delivery of aid inside Syria: 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 to our Syria Crisis appeal, we have been able to commit more than £1.8 million to respond to the crisis. But the needs on the ground are enormous, and we urgently need to scale up our work.

Please donate to our Syria Crisis appeal>>

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