The conflict in Syria has intensified over the last few weeks and months, with a horrifying situation unfolding in Eastern Ghouta. Hundreds of civilian deaths have been reported and the UN has said 400,000 people are trapped in the besieged neighbourhoods east of Damascus.
Alan Thomlinson, CAFOD’s Syria Crisis Programme Manager, said:
“We are outraged that civilians are being targeted by attacks on residential areas around Damascus. The devastating bombardment in Eastern Ghouta and Damascus is a stark reminder to us all that the conflict is not over in Syria.”
“It is clearer than ever before that a military push to end the Syrian conflict is not the solution. The heaviest price is still being paid by civilians and this latest fighting will leave more open wounds and hundreds of homes, hospitals, schools and markets destroyed in these neighbourhoods.”
A halt in the fighting is urgently needed, in order to get aid to those who are wounded or have been stranded for months, and end the pain and suffering of thousands.
Access for aid workers
“CAFOD supports calls from the international community for a ceasefire and reiterates that all parties to the conflict must respect International Humanitarian Law, and seek to protect civilians and medical facilities,” said Alan Thomlinson. “Aid workers, including Syrians who risk their lives to assist those in need, must be permitted access.”
Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales - Department for International Affairs, called the killing of civilians in Eastern Ghouta a "grievous offence to our common humanity".
“In this dark moment I urge Catholics in England and Wales to pray for the people of Eastern Ghouta and Syria; to encourage our own government to help end the violence; and to support generously those humanitarian agencies that are bravely working to save lives,” said Bishop Lang.
CAFOD’s local partner responding in Damascus
“Our local partner has offices and centres in Damascus, and have been working to deliver vital aid to families affected by the country's ever-escalating civil war. They are still open, but we have received reports that the neighbourhoods where they are located in eastern Damascus are also under heavy shelling.
“At CAFOD we are extremely concerned about the safety of our local partners in Damascus, and for the thousands of civilians who are trapped in this terrible fighting.”
As Syria’s civil war heads towards its eighth year, it has become the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.
According to the UN the conflict has killed over 400,000 people and caused large-scale displacement. More than 13.1 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian aid – food, water, shelter and protection.