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WCC condemns terror attack on evacuees in Syria

WCC condemns terror attack on evacuees in Syria

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

16 April 2017

The World Council of Churches strongly condemns the car bomb attack on evacuees in Aleppo on 15th April, in which at about 100 people are believed killed, many of them children.

“This continuing infernal cycle of such extreme violence underlines yet again the urgent need for practical progress towards peace in Syria to end the bloodshed,” said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit on hearing of the attack.

“We call upon all involved governments and armed groups to put an immediate end to all use of deadly force and to support and engage with a political process for peace in Syria, for the future of the country and all its people,” said Tveit.

The bomb detonated in a convoy of coaches carrying evacuees from besieged government-held towns in Syria, wreaking a massive toll.

Syrian state media reported 75 people were killed, but CNN and other news outlets citing rescue workers said around 100 people died and hundreds more were injured.

The blast occurred in the Rashidin area on the outskirts of Aleppo, where up to 70 buses carrying mostly Shi’ite residents of towns evacuated under an exchange deal between the warring sides were waiting to enter the city.

The BBC said the exchange under the “Four Towns" deal was brokered by Iran and Qatar and was meant to relieve suffering in besieged towns - Foah and Kefraya in the north-west which are under government control, and opposition-held Madaya and Zabadani, near Damascus.

“The WCC expresses its deep sympathy to the families of the victims, and prays that God may grant them comfort and heal their wounds,” said Tveit. “We also pray for the God of justice and peace to accompany the Syrian people in these critical and painful moments.”

“And I call on all Christians and all people of faith around the world to join together in renewed prayer for peace and an end to conflict and bloodshed in Syria,” Tveit added.

Thousands of evacuees have been stranded in hostile territory since the transfers began on 14 April. Now those being moved from other besieged areas fear revenge attacks.

About 20,000 besieged people were to have been evacuated. Up to 5,000 government evacuees and 2,200 from rebel towns were stranded in transit on Sunday, AFP news agency reported.

Last month, the UN described the situation in the besieged towns as "catastrophic". More than 64,000 civilians are "trapped in a cycle of daily violence and deprivation", it said.

WCC decries escalation of Syria conflict (WCC press release 7 April, 2017)

WCC urges end to “culture of impunity” in Syria (WCC press release 6 April, 2017)

Member churches in the Middle East