Church leaders, Caritas and Christian World Service are calling for an increase in peace efforts and humanitarian aid from the New Zealand Government and support from the New Zealand public. Syrian people face are facing their fifth year of unrelenting conflict.
Leaders of the Anglican, Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian churches, along with the Quakers, have addressed their members in an Open Letter encouraging them to support their agencies, Caritas and Christian World Service, which are both working through local partner groups inside Syria and Iraq, as well as neighbouring countries.
“After four years of conflict and so much suffering, the Syrian people deserve a better future. The global community needs to step up their efforts to ensure food, water and other essential supplies are distributed to the most vulnerable in the country,” says Julianne Hickey, Director of Caritas.
Caritas and Christian World Service partners are providing vital aid to Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, including food, fuel, water, warm clothing, shelter and healthcare.
“Local people are working effectively and compassionately to help Syrian and Iraqi families. They need more resources to help more people,” says Pauline McKay, National Director of Christian World Service.
“New Zealand has a global reputation for its commitment to peace. As a member of the United Nations Security Council and a small player, it needs to lead the peace offensive. We ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs to increase funding for humanitarian aid, and work tenaciously for the protection of civilian populations and an end to the conflict,” she says.
The conflict began in March 2011 when Syrian forces cracked down on popular uprisings in a number of cities. The conflict has claimed around 200,000 lives and injured many more. United Nations report 12.2 million Syrians are in need of help, and an estimated 7.8 million people are displaced within Syria. Another 3.9 million people are refugees in neighbouring countries.
The Open Letter has been signed by Rt Rev. Andrew Norton of the Presbyterian Church, Archbishop Philip Richardson of the Anglican Church, Cardinal John Dew of the Roman Catholic Church, Yearly Clerk Elizabeth Duke for the Quakers, and President Tovia Aumua of the Methodist Church. A copy of the Open Letter is available here.
Donations to Caritas can be made on line, by phone: 0800 22 10 22 or by post to: Caritas, PO Box 12193, Wellington 6144Donations to Christian World Service can be made on line, by phone: 0800 74 73 72 or by post to: CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140.
13 March 2015