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Appeal to the international community

03 August 2006

Geneva, 3 August 2006

On 21 July 2006, I wrote a letter to the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council amongst others, calling for an immediate cease-fire, protection of civilians as prescribed by law, including the Geneva Conventions and multilateral implementation of long-delayed UN Security Council resolutions for peace in Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including an urgent end to the illegal 39-year occupation that is the vortex of the region's violent storms.

Despite this and other such letters by religious leaders, a major tragedy continues to unfold in the troubled region of the Middle East. A war of ominous dimension and of far-reaching consequences is causing unimaginable and untold suffering to the people in Lebanon. In a period of three weeks, over six hundred people have lost their lives and over a million have been displaced. The television images of corpses of little children and old women struggling to find their way through the debris and rubble of their homes and a nation held in fear are heart-wrenching. Much needed aid and assistance that could be of help in these dire circumstances has been hampered and is unable to reach those in need.

Yet these developments seemed to have no effect on the leaders of countries like Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom. We call on the Israeli government to give guarantees that humanitarian organisations will be allowed unhindered access to those in need of assistance. Dozens of villages have been flattened into ruins by merciless bombings of the Israeli forces that are continuing unabated despite promises of a temporary cease-fire. 

In the circumstances, the World Council of Churches decided to rush a pastoral delegation to Lebanon, but regrettably, due to security concerns and difficulties of transporting them to the affected areas, the visit for the time being has been put on hold. 

The present disproportionate acts of violence of immense magnitude can have no justification. It is indeed shocking and disgraceful for world leaders to stand before the bar of public opinion and announce in a most callous manner that fighting will continue till strategic military objectives are met. In effect they are saying more people can continue to be killed while they take their time to settle their political differences. 

Appeals for sanity and restraint by religious leaders and others for the cessation of hostilities and an immediate cease-fire have fallen on deaf ears. Once again the United Nations Security Council has been paralysed by the power and politics of the dominant nations and its charter undermined. This blind faith in military violence to resolve disputes and disagreements is totally unwarranted, illegal and immoral. It is not the way human beings should be approaching just peace in the 21st century. It can never be too soon nor too late to seek a cease-fire and a comprehensive peace. Our hearts cry out to the leaders of the international community, especially to those from the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom. Recognising that humanitarian assistance cannot address the underlying political conflicts, we appeal to them to do whatever is possible to stop the bombings, negotiate a cease-fire and a comprehensive peace settlement. We beseech them to trust in the promise of peace for the alternative is horrors of war that we are witnessing today. 

We pray for all the people of Lebanon, Muslims and Christians alike. We pray for the people of Israel who have fallen victims to the missiles that continue to be fired indiscriminately into their towns and villages. To the Christians and churches in Lebanon we say, "May (the Lord) strengthen you in his glorious might with ample power to meet whatever comes with fortitude, patience and joy; and to give thanks to the Father who has made you fit to share the heritage of God's people in the realm of light" (Colossians 1:11 -12).  

Yours sincerely, 

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary