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 resolu-
tions 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 organizations 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 paralyzed 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.

Recognizing 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 the 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