(Vatican Radio) A senior Vatican archbishop has urged all sides of the Syrian conflict to end violence and restore solidarity in the wake of a deadly chemical gas attack.
Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, called for increased funding from the international community for displaced people and refugees during an address at the European Union in Brussels.
The conference, called “Supporting the future of Syria and the region”, came just one day after 72 people were killed and more than 100 were injured in an chemical weapons attack in the north of the country.
Archbishop Gallagher said: “The Holy See invites all parties to the Syrian conflict to spare no effort to end the seemingly endless cycle of violence, to restore that sense of solidarity that is the basis of social cohesion and peaceful coexistence.
“While the crisis has entered, regrettably and painfully, into its seventh year, the Holy See remains deeply concerned about the tremendous human suffering, affecting millions of innocent children and other civilians who remain deprived of essential humanitarian aid, medical facilities and education, and urges that international humanitarian law be fully respected, particularly with regard to the protection of civilian populations, guaranteeing them access to necessary medical assistance.
“Furthermore, the Holy See also expresses its concern for the conditions and treatment of prisoners and detainees.”
He spoke of the Holy See’s deep concern for the “vulnerable situation of Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East, who suffer disproportionately the effects of war and social upheaval in the region, to such an extent that their very presence and existence are gravely threatened.”
The Archbishop’s words come as Pope Francis deplored the “carnage” of the gas attack in Idlib province during his Wednesday General Audience and appealed for a halt to the tragedy.
Archbishop Gallagher pledged a renewed humanitarian assistance by the Church in 2017, building on the $200 million of aid given by Catholic charities last year.
The conference brought together 70 countries and international organisations from across the world and was chaired jointly by the European Union, the United Nations and several national governments.
It comes a year after a summit in London at which the international community pledged significant financial support for humanitarian assistance in Syria and promoted a political solution to the crisis.