A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he runs to take cover in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighborhood July 23. Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, papal nuncio to the United Nations, criticized the "persistent refusal" of Syria's warring factions to negotiate an end to the country's 28-month-long civil war. CNS photo/Muzaffar Salman, Reuters

Nuncio criticizes both sides in Syrian conflict for not ending crisis

By  Catholic News Service
  • July 24, 2013

UNITED NATIONS - The papal nuncio to the United Nations criticized the "persistent refusal" of Syria's warring factions to negotiate an end to the country's 28-month-long civil war.

Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt told participants in the Security Council's open debate on the Middle East that the nations of the world must act to reverse the trend that results only in "more deaths, fear, hatred and destruction."

"There can be no military solution for the Syrian conflict," he said July 23. "Regardless of this, parties to the conflict manifest determination, with total impunity, to shed yet more blood, to supply yet more weapons and to destroy more lives before they can be brought to the negotiating table."

Archbishop Chullikatt blamed "outside influences and extremist groups" for continuing the devastating war. He said their involvement is seen as an "opportunity for political or ideological gains rather than as an appalling disaster that is engulfing Syria."

"War can never more be considered a means of resolving conflicts. Yet war, when it occurs, can only be won through peace, yes peace won through negotiations, dialogue and reconciliation," he said.

The archbishop expressed concern about the mounting death toll from the war, numbering nearly 5,000 people per month since March and approaching 100,000 in total since hostilities began.

Pointing to the plight of Syrian refugees, the archbishop cited statistics that show more than 1.8 million people have fled to neighboring countries while another 4 million people, about 18 percent of the population, have been internally displaced. About 6.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, he said.

"Moreover, the challenges faced by neighboring countries in assisting and protecting refugees appear to contribute to further destabilization in the region," he said.

He also addressed the Vatican's concern for Syria's Christians, who he said have faced challenges to their survival. He cited the June murder of Father Francois Murad, the kidnappings of other Christians, including bishops and priests, and the destruction of more than 60 churches and affiliated institutions as cause for concern.

"My delegation is convinced that there can be no social progress and no justice without according religious and ethnic minorities their rightful places as full members of society," he said.

The archbishop concluded his remarks by urging the world body to "desist from hindering the long overdue negotiated settlement to this conflict. Peace in Syria makes us all winners, whereas enduring conflict surely guarantees only losers."

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