- (Photo: Reuters)
Persecution watchdog group Open Doors has launched a global petition to urge the United Nations and the world's leaders to step in the Syrian civil war and help the suffering people, many of whom are in Christian communities that have been caught in the crossfire.
"For nearly three years, the people of war-torn Syria have experienced terrible suffering and enormous challenges," Open Doors said in a statement on Thursday. The group is seeking 500,000 signatures.
"In particular, the Christian community, around 8 percent of the population, is paying a high price for living in a country where the civil war has caused over 100,000 deaths and left 4.2 million homeless inside the country."
The U.S. and other nations threatened to intervene in the conflict between Syrian President Bashar al Assad and the various rebel factions determined to bring his government down after thousands were killed in a chemical gas attack in August, but at the end backed down when Assad promised to hand over the country's chemical weapons to be destroyed.
Several of the world's top donor countries have also been criticized for not providing adequate financial support with international aid agency Oxfam reporting in September that top donors are as much as $2.7 billion short.
With no end to the Syrian civil war in sight, and with millions of Syrian refugees overbearing the refugee camps set up in neighboring countries, Open Doors said that the United Nations and world leaders need to step in with a number of set objectives, including protecting all people in Syria; safeguarding Christian communities from violence; guaranteeing safe access to humanitarian aid; and respecting religious freedom for all.
Christians have suffered great atrocities in the civil war, with the biggest massacre reported in late October when the bodies of more than 30 Christians were uncovered in mass graves in the Syrian city of Sadad, which was destroyed by Islamic militants in an attack.
"We have shouted aid to the world but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers? I think of all those who are suffering today in mourning and discomfort: We ask everyone to pray for us," said Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama.
The persecution watchdog noted that a number of other Syrian pastors have also spoken out on behalf of targeted Christians, saying that the church is now in its hour of greatest need.
Open Doors is set to take the petition to the United Nations on Dec. 10 before the five permanent members of the Security Council, as well as the European Union and the embassies of China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the USA.