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Air strike on Syrian refugee camp

The Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit condemns the air strike targetting the Kammouneh Syrian refugee camp, which is reported to have killed at least 28 people.

06 May 2016

Arabic translation (pdf)

The World Council of Churches is deeply shocked by the latest news from Syria, where it is reported that an air strike has targeted the Kammouneh Syrian refugee camp, in the Edleb area. It is reported that at least 28 people were killed, and many more severely injured. This outrage can in no way be considered as a military operation targeting armed groups, but clearly amounts to a war crime. This atrocity follows a tragic escalation of violence in Aleppo, where six hospitals have reportedly been deliberately shelled, leaving hundreds of people killed and wounded - among them babies, children, doctors and medical personnel.

The World Council of Churches has always insisted that all governments have an obligation to protect the lives and dignity of their citizens, and to protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms. This escalation of extreme violence is ethically unconscionable and condemnable especially when so many innocent and vulnerable people are targeted in this way. The World Council of Churches reiterates its demand to the international community to put an end to the culture of impunity in Syria and in the region as a whole, so that all those who are responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity will be held accountable for such atrocities. These tragic events dramatically confront the international community with its legal and ethical responsibility to implement all necessary measures provided for in International law to protect civilians in times of war and provide them with humanitarian assistance through creating safe zones inside Syria and safe humanitarian corridors.

Once again, these events in Syria demonstrate that there can be no military solution to the conflict. The WCC urges all parties to agree on a mechanism that guarantees the durability of the cessation of hostilities in the totality of Syrian territory, and to resume the Geneva talks among Syrians, facilitated by Mr de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, leading to the establishment of a transitional system of governance, which will have to address crucial challenges ahead of the Syrian people.

The World Council of Churches, together with the churches in our fellowship, prays that our Lord receives all the victims in Syria in His mercy, and keeps their families and beloved ones in His Love, granting them courage and patience in their grieving. We, as churches, manifest our feelings of solidarity with the families of the victims, mourning their beloved ones. We also pray for the whole Syrian people that our Lord may protect them and accompany them in their longing for dignity and freedom.

Geneva, 6 May 2016

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary
World Council of Churches