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Statement on developments in North-East Syria

25 November 2019

World Council of Churches


Bossey, Switzerland

20-26 November 2019

Doc. No. 04.5 rev


Statement on Developments in North-East Syria

Meeting in Bossey, Switzerland, on 20-26 November 2019, members of the executive committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) raise again their prayers for an end to conflict and for peace in Syria, after more than eight tragic years of death, destruction and displacement.

The latest escalation of violence in north-east Syria, following an incursion by Turkish forces and allied militias in October 2019, has left tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes inside the country, and driven many new refugees to seek safety in neighbouring countries. The WCC is gravely concerned about the continuing humanitarian impact on all people of the region.

The affected area, belonging to a region that gained de facto autonomy in 2012 in the context of the wider Syrian conflict, includes a diverse population of Kurds, Arabs, Armenians and Yazidis. Many vulnerable groups have suffered grievously during the years of war, among them many Christians. Many have already been displaced multiple times as they fled the fight in other parts of Syria towards the north-east, which had remained relatively secure and stable. Now this refuge has been turned into another battlefield.

In this context of fresh violence and upheaval, along with other communities in the area, Christian communities are also suffering. The WCC executive committee laments the deaths of 7 and the wounding of 70 others in three car bomb explosions near the Chaldean church in Qamishli on 11 November, and the deaths on the same day of two leaders of the Armenian Catholic Community of Qamishli in another car bomb attack. We pray for their families and communities, that they may be comforted and strengthened in the face of these tragedies and against the hatred that inspires such atrocities.

The executive committee is also concerned about the negative consequences this new wave of conflict may have on the UN-led political process, and on the recently resumed national dialogue through the Syrian Constitutional Committee.

The WCC executive committee:

Calls again for an end to conflict in Syria, in the north-east region, in Idlib, and throughout the country, so that the process of reconciliation and rebuilding of a shattered country and society can finally proceed.

Lifts up and affirms the work of the WCC to promote and facilitate dialogue and mutual solidarity between representatives of disparate sectors of Syrian society, and to promote peace, justice and equal rights for all Syrians.

Calls for the immediate release of the two metropolitans of Aleppo, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi, who were abducted in April 2013. We pray for their safe return to their churches, their communities and their families, as a sign of hope for all the Christians of Syria and the region.