Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ joined 6 other US churches and church-related agencies in sending a letter to members of Congress this morning. The letter coincides with the implementation of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which was passed by Congress in December, and raises concerns about the impact of the imposition of sanctions on the people of Syria. The Caesar sanctions have been called the "toughest sanctions yet" against Syria.
The letter states, "As church agencies and organizations, some of which have long-standing relationships within Syria, we share your deep concern for the well-being of the Syrian people. But we urge you to examine the impact of U.S. policies on the civilians they are intended to protect and support." Demonstrating how sanctions have already had harmful consequences on the people of the country, the letter concludes by encouraging Congress to "assess the cost and impact of broad economic sanctions on Syria’s civilians and on the stability of the region as a whole," as well to "encourage Members of Congress to refrain from sanctioning efforts to meet basic human needs in government-held parts of Syria."
The Caesar sanctions have been criticized in Syria, with the Maronite Archbishop Joseph Tobji of Aleppo, characterizing the opinion of people there, saying, "We were better off under the bombs."
The letter concludes, "We recognize that the situation in Syria is complex and defies easy solutions. But as the U.S. implements Syria policy, we urge that the well-being and needs of the most vulnerable people in Syria and throughout the region—who have suffered so greatly as a result of the war—be at the center of our concern. The U.S. remains the largest single donor responding to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and the Syrian people have historically admired and respected the American people’s generosity and kindness. We should not put that goodwill at risk by supporting policies that increase hardship for the Syrian people."