Press Release
CAFOD statement on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria

12 April 2018

CAFOD is deeply concerned about the escalating levels of violence in Syria, and particularly the alleged recent use of chemical weapons in Douma, Eastern Gouta. This horrific attack which has shocked the world, killed an estimated 70 people and countless others, including many children, who were left struggling for their lives.

The war in Syria has now been ongoing for seven years, with more than half a million people killed, and over 13.5 million forced to flee their homes. It has become increasingly clear that there is no military solution to the conflict with the past different military approaches of the international community each failing to stop the atrocities carried out by all parties to the conflict.

CAFOD believes that the only solution to the conflict will be to bring all parties to the negotiating table to resolve their differences, and we echo Pope Francis’s Easter address in Rome this year when he called for a swift end to the carnage in Syria and for respect for international humanitarian law so that humanitarian aid can be delivered. Further military aggression from outside actors runs the risk of escalating the killing without solving the conflict.

We therefore call on the British government to:

  1. Use its position on the UN Security Council to ensure that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons can successfully investigate the recent alleged chemical weapons attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice and support the UN Secretary General to establish a special mechanism to push the investigation forward.
  2. Prioritise diplomatic initiatives over military ones and resist the calls for a rush to military action.
  3. At the upcoming Syria regional humanitarian conference in Brussels on 24 April commit to work with others in the international community to agree a collective plan to resettle 10 per cent of the Syrian refugees, the majority of whom are living in destitution in neighbouring countries to Syria where the burden of hosting so many is becoming increasingly untenable. Britain must offer sanctuary to its fair share of these refugees and increase the caps on entry and family reunification currently in place.

Find out more about CAFOD's response to the Syria Crisis.

Notes to editors:

  1. CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development. It works with communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America to fight poverty and injustice. The agency works with people in need regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality (
  2. For media enquiries please contact Laura Ouseley,, +44(0)207 095 5479, +44(0)7909 875 956. CAFOD out-of-hours media hotline: +44 (0)7919 301 429.

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