Middle Eastern Christian Leaders Urge International Community to Send More Aid to Christians Displaced by ISIS

( [email protected] ) Jan 29, 2015 06:38 PM EST
Brutal Blizzards in Syria
A Syrian refugee holds a barefoot child as she walks with a girl through snow near a refugee camp for those displaced by Islamic State terrorists. Photo: Reuters

Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant leaders recently met in Bkerke, Lebanon to call for international support for Christian refugees in Iraq and Syria and urge the Middle Eastern countries to stop funding terrorists, who have displaced over 90% of the region's believers. 

In an appeal addressed to "two communities: Arab and international," the leaders asserted that to officially end fighting in Syria and Iraq, and enable refugees to return home, Middle Eastern governments must "cease to support the terrorists," cutting off financial aid and closing borders where necessary, reports the Catholic Register.

The statement also urged the international community send more aid, in the form of material goods and medicine, to refugees displaced from their homes by Islamic State terrorists. A negotiated end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the leaders added, could eliminate "the root cause of the misfortunes" in the region.

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, who hosted the meeting,  said that the goal of the Christian community is to ensure that Christian living in the Middle East "can stay in their respective countries and preserve their Christian tradition and mission."

The leaders added that they fear for the future of Christian youth living in Iraq and Syria, as they have "no other choice but to emigrate."

"Even if the churches double their services, they won't manage to resolve these crises," it said.

Referring to minority refugees from Syria and Iraq and to ongoing Mideast conflicts, the Christian leaders expressed "solidarity with all those who are suffering and wounded in dignity and deprived of their rights and with the hostages and prisoners of war subject to torture."

The meeting of the Christian leaders comes in the wake of clashes that erupted between the Lebanese army and Syria-based militants near the Syrian border, killing eight Lebanese troops and wounding twenty others.

The participants expressed "grief over the martyrdom of eight more Lebanese Army soldiers as they were performing the duty of defending the border in the face of the terrorist groups."

Humanitarian needs across Iraq and Syria remain unprecedented, with an estimated 800,000 of Iraq's religious minorities displaced by Islamic State militants during the summer. According to humanitarian organization Christian Aid, many of the refugees, left homeless and penniless, are currently struggling in blustery snow and rain in the country's northern Kurdish region, where the majority shelter.

In an editorial for the New York Times, actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, who recently visited the area, wrote that she had never seen anything like the suffering she witnessed after visiting the refugee camps in Irbil.

She demanded additional funding to the United Nation's humanitarian efforts and urged countries outside the Middle East to offer sanctuary and homes to the "most vulnerable refugees" who have been raped and tortured.   

"The international community as a whole has to find a path to a peace settlement. It is not enough to defend our values at home, in our newspapers and in our institutions," she wrote. "We also have to defend them in the refugee camps of the Middle East, and the ruined ghost towns of Syria."