Vatican representative at UN pleads for end to Syria ‘bloodbath’

New York City, N.Y., May 17, 2013 / 12:06 am (CNA).- The apostolic nuncio to the United Nations urged those with influence over the warring parties in Syria to encourage them to end the violence and seek peace.

Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, who heads the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the U.N., said the Vatican desires to see Syria’s return to “that peaceful and harmonious coexistence which has been the hallmark of Syrian society for centuries.”

He cited Pope Francis’ words from his Urbi et Orbi Easter Sunday message: “How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?”

The archbishop spoke May 15 about a U.N. resolution on preventing armed conflict in Syria, where the Syrian government and rebel groups are fighting for control of the country. The conflict has killed an estimated 80,000 people and displaced several million more.

Archbishop Chullikatt said that his delegation has “grave concern” over Syria’s two years of an “unceasing spiral of violence,” which has become a “bloodbath.”

“If we wish to reconstitute a peaceable society and avoid the abandonment of the Syrian people to a violent and uncertain future, a clear change of course is needed,” he stressed.

The archbishop urged assistance for agencies and countries that are hosting refugees from the fighting, warning that if these countries collapse, there would be “an unprecedented humanitarian crisis” with severe international repercussions.

“What matters here are not acts of mere generosity, but acts that can generate and sustain peace, security and the common good of the entire international community,” he explained.

He also urged the warring parties to recognize their obligations under international law to provide humanitarian workers safe access to refugees. The archbishop specifically called for the protection of health care institutions both from deliberate attacks and from the “indiscriminate effects of armed violence.”

He further encouraged the release of all kidnapping victims, including Greek Orthodox Bishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim, who have been missing since April 22.

According to Archbishop Chullikatt, a solution to the violence requires the involvement of all political parties and various civil society groups, including the religious groups of Syria.

Any effort to rebuild the country must be based on human rights, fundamental freedoms, rule of law, good governance and respect for “diverse ethnic and religious identities,” he said.

The archbishop closed with an exhortation to find “a lasting solution worthy of the dignity of the people of that great nation.”

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