March 15th 2018: The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) notes that the 15th March 2018 marks 7 years of conflict in Syria, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions displaced from their home.
Léon Cognie’s artwork Massacre of the Innocents, depicting the events of Matthew 2: 16-18 is based on the ordering of the massacre of all the boys 2 years and under, by Herod. In the painting mothers are fleeing from Herod’s soldiers clutching their babies. The hand covering the baby’s mouth, suggests the need for silence, to retain life.
The mother’s fear is palpable and it impossible to turn away from the striking image of her face. This image starkly reminds us, another massacre is occurring in Syria today and we cannot remain silent.
Ms. Carmen Lazar, Deputy Chair Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce and Manager Assyrian Australian Association – Assyrian Resource Centre;
“Even the UN no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering. I have nothing to tell my Syrian clients here in Australia, who are distressed every day when more people die and more people are displaced. They fear for their families, community and country.”
The Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce Chair;
“We celebrate that Australia has given sanctuary to 12,000 Syrians over the past three years and contributed support funding. But we urge the Australian Government to do more to assist in this conflict, as we see so many more children dying and families being ripped apart.”
The ACRT also remains deeply concerned at the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict and notes the Australian Government’s involvement in the Launch of the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons (23 January 2018). Through this Partnership and the Chemical Weapons Convention Australia must retain a strong stance against the use of such weapons.
In 2018 the ACRT will support members to continue to take action on the Syrian conflict. Suggestions for action have been included on the ACRT website alongside actions for other refugee concerns.
Media inquiries may be directed to:
The Very Rev’d Dr. Peter Catt
Chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
0404 052 494
0411 876 226