Faith Matters

Trócaire supporting the victims of violence in Aleppo

Syrian father and son, September 2016. Picture by Meabh Smith/Trócaire

Ireland's Catholic Bishops have been reflecting on the shocking upsurge in violence in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Syria was among the issues discussed at the the Autumn 2016 General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference at Saint Patrick's College in Maynooth.

The bishops noted a debate which took place in Dáil Éireann "concerning this human catastrophe".

Trócaire, the Bishops' Conference overseas aid agency, is responding to the violence in Aleppo where the approximately 200,000 people living in the eastern half of the city have come under relentless attack.

Trócaire responds to humanitarian crises in countries where natural disaster or conflict has put people's lives at risk.

The charity is working with partners to deliver shelter, medicine, food and water to displaced Syrian families. It has worked with more than 140,000 displaced Syrians, providing them with vital aid. It is also providing psychological support to ensure peoples safety and dignity.

This is a vital lifeline to Syrians and other refugees in the Middle East who are struggling to cope with the impacts of displacement and war.

Bishops echoed the call of Pope Francis who has said: "I appeal to the consciences of those responsible for the bombing that they must give a reckoning to God."

They discussed with great concern the high level of violence in Aleppo, in particular the deliberate targeting of civilian areas, including hospitals, where many people have been killed. Noting the powerful military assault on the homes of people who have already lived with a lack of medical care, water and food for several years, bishops expressed the need for full humanitarian access into the city. The opening of safe corridors would allow for the distribution of emergency aid to people trapped in the city.

Bishops encouraged the government to utilise diplomatic channels and to ask UN Security Council members, including Russia, for a ceasefire and for humanitarian access.

"As the Gospel of Matthew tells us, `Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God'."

The bishops also prayed for a political solution to this war and "for all the people of Syria that their suffering will soon be at an end and they can begin to rebuild their country".

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