WCC strongly condemns Syrian government airstrikes on town of Douma
The World Council of Churches (WCC) has welcomed the constructive new consensus emerging in the United Nations Security Council regarding the ongoing crisis in Syria, particularly the support given to the peace plan proposed by UN Special Envoy Staffan De Mistura.
“The WCC strongly condemns the Syrian government airstrikes on the town of Douma on 16 August, in which a reported 96 civilians, and among them many children, were killed. This infernal cycle of extreme violence underlines yet again the urgent need for an end to bloodshed and for practical progress towards peace in Syria,” commented WCC director for International Affairs Peter Prove.
“We call on all parties to this tragic and fruitless conflict to stop the hostilities and to take the path of dialogue,” Prove declared, “and we encourage the international community to work actively together for the implementation of the new peace plan approved by the Security Council.”
An earlier resolution (2235) adopted by the Security Council on 7 August requested the UN Secretary-General to submit to the Security Council, within 20 days, recommendations for a Joint Investigative Mechanism “to identify to the greatest extent feasible individuals, entities, groups or governments who were perpetrators, organizers, sponsors or otherwise involved in the use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical, in the Syrian Arab Republic.” Prove noted that the “WCC has repeatedly called for accountability for chemical weapon attacks in Syria, and we renew that call now.”
The 16-point plan adopted by the Security Council on 17 August proposes four working groups with members from the government and opposition to discuss safety and protection, counter terrorism, political and legal issues and reconstruction, and urges “a Syrian-led political process leading to a political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.” It also calls for “an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers” to be formed with “mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions.”
“The World Council of Churches will continue its efforts and initiatives to promote peace in Syria,” affirmed WCC program executive for the Middle East Michel Nseir, “through inter-religious dialogue and cooperation and local capacity building. We are encouraged by the latest developments in the Security Council but are looking for concerted implementation.”