By Ann Marie Foley - 27 August, 2013
During his Angelus address on Sunday, the Pontiff called on the international community to do everything in its power to help the Syrian nation find a solution to the ongoing conflict.
“The increase in violence in a war between brothers, with the proliferation of massacres and atrocities, which we have all seen through terrible images over these days, leads me once again to raise my voice to demand that the clatter of arms cease,” he said in Rome.
He added, “It is not confrontation that offers hope for a resolution to the problems, but rather the ability to meet and dialogue.”
Pope Francis then assured the victims of the conflict, especially children, of his prayers and solidarity.
Meanwhile, Irish aid agency Trócaire has appealed for funds to help those affected by the conflict in Syria.
The charity says that 8.4m people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid; 5.8m people have been forced to abandon their homes and 1.8m people are seeking shelter in neighbouring countries.
Trócaire is working with local partners to provide food, shelter, clean water and other basic needs to the conflict’s displaced women, children and men.
Already, over 190,000 Syrian refugees have benefited, but this crisis is deteriorating so rapidly that the agency is appealing for more help to help them reach more people.
In a column in The Journal, Maurice McQuillan, Trócaire’s Head of Humanitarian Programmes, said, “Using chemical weapons and targeting innocent civilians are war crimes. But so is silence – and every day we sit back while this slaughter continues is another day that we have facilitated the killing of innocent people.”
Three million children have been displaced. Two million of these are inside Syria’s borders and the remaining one million have gone to live in neighbouring countries. These children are deeply traumatised.
“I met one Syrian child who had fled her home after her neighbours were killed in a rocket attack – the last thing she remembers from home is seeing her parents pick body parts up off the street. Many of the children I met have difficulty sleeping; they are haunted by what they have seen,” he wrote.
Through partner agency, Caritas, the Irish agency is providing safe spaces for some of these children, but rebuilding their lives will be an enormous challenge.
The UN says the conflict in Syria has caused the world’s worst refugee crisis for 20 years, with numbers not seen since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.