The Syrian Conflict and a Faithful Response

Léon Cognie’s image 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 andwe cannot remain silent.

March 15th 2018 marks the 7th year of the conflict in Syria.  Over 500,000 people have been killed in the conflict during this time with the toll rising every day. Currently, nearly 400,000 civilians are trapped in Eastern Ghouta as Syria’s government rages war on the community.

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 Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce urge members to support the Syrian people where they can.

How you can support

Donate

Since the beginning of the violence, the ACT Alliance, a coalition of more than 140 churches and church-related organisations, have been working together a provide humanitarian relief to affected people and communities in Syria and in the surrounding countries.   In Australia Act for Peace are working with ACT Alliance members internationally and you can find more information here  https://www.actforpeace.org.au/syria?s=AFP-NEWS-1605-WEB22

Write

Write to your local MP, Senator or Minister for Foreign Affairs expressing your deep concern to see further peaceful interventions regarding the Syrian conflict.

You can find contact information for Senators and Parliament Members here https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Guidelines_for_Contacting_Senators_and_Members

A number of faith based justice agencies have great tips for how best to write to a Member of Parliament.

Some suggested points to raise (using your own words is always more effective)

Thank the Government for committing to the 12,000 permanent places for vulnerable Syrian refugees.  (These places were in addition to the13,750 places available under Australia’s 2016–17 Humanitarian Program and have now been filled).  Request consideration of expanding this program given the current level of violence.
Thank the Government for providing the $220 million for three years to address the humanitarian and longer-term resilience needs in Syria and neighbouring countries hosting large numbers of refugees.  Request a further financial commitment given the current need.
Request that all members of Government provide ongoing international leadership for resolution of the conflict, matched by the Australian Government scaling up its financial and resource commitments to the Syrian population and host communities.
Urge the Government to strongly reject the use of chemical weapons under the Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons (23 January 2018 and work collaboratively with other partners to stop the practice.  https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/french-foreign-policy/disarmament-and-non-proliferation/events/article/chemical-weapons-ending-impunity-23-01-18
Request information about what other measures the Australian Government is taking to resolve the conflict and create safety for the refugee and internally displaced population.

Visit your local Member of Parliament

Visiting your local MP can be an effective way of influencing policy, although it can be difficult to secure a meeting.

Only a small percentage of people actually take the time to visit their MP because they are not necessarily sure of the best way to approach.  Caritas has a great kit for getting the best outcomes here http://www.caritas.org.au/docs/default-source/campaigns/mp-kit

Pray

Use the image of the Massacre of the Innocents (Léon Cogniet 1824) or any number of images from the Syrian conflict, to prayfully reflect with your community on the people of Syria.   

 

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