Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

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Global Ministries Head Signs Second Syrian Humanitarian Appeal

Thomas Kemper, the chief executive of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, has joined a second humanitarian appeal on behalf of the people of Syria plagued by five years of warfare. The new appeal, issued on March 14, expresses hope that a fragile cease-fire will end the suffering of the innocent. It asks the parties to the cease-fire to permit medical workers and supplies to freely reach the sick and injured and to allow a nationwide immunization campaign for children.

Last fall, three Syrian refugee students received UMCOR school kits and hygiene kits through a partnership with International Orthodox Christian Charities. Winterization kits that included food parcels, blankets, and rugs also benefitted Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Last fall, three Syrian refugee students received UMCOR school kits and hygiene kits through a partnership with International Orthodox Christian Charities. Winterization kits that included food parcels, blankets, and rugs also benefited Syrian refugees in Jordan. Photo: IOCC

On January 21, Kemper joined the heads of (eventually) 160 humanitarian organizations in calling for a cease-fire to the conflict entering its sixth year, and also asking for access to sick and injured civilians.

The new appeal says that the practical measures requested will “mean the difference between life and death” for many persons.

“We are glad to join with other religious, international, and humanitarian groups in advocating for peace in Syria and for services for the suffering there,” Kemper said of the new appeal. “Our United Methodist Committee on Relief is actively engaged with refugees for the conflicts in both Syria and Iraq. We have expended more than US$3.5 million in recent years to assist projects addressing the needs of internal refugees.”

The full text of the second Syrian appeal follows:

As the parties to the conflict in Syria resume talks to end a war that now enters its sixth horrific year, there is renewed hope for peace. For an end to the suffering of millions of the innocent.

Two months ago our organizations appealed for urgent access to all those in desperate need inside Syria: for the lifting of sieges; for the full protection of civilians. Today, there are some encouraging signs of progress. The cessation of hostilities has allowed humanitarian organizations to rush more food and other relief to communities desperate for help.

But access has to go beyond a temporary lifting of seiges [sic] and checkpoints and allowing more aid convoys to move.

Humanitarian access and freedom of movement of civilians in Syria has to be sustained. It has to be unconditional. And it should include access to all people in need by whatever routes necessary.

The parties to this conflict and their international sponsors must from now on guarantee:

  • Full access for humanitarian and medical workers to assess the wellbeing of civilians in all communities and treat those who are sick and injured without obstacle or restriction.
  • Allowing all humanitarian aid, as required by international humanitarian law, to reach, unimpeded, those who urgently need it – including medical supplies, surgical equipment, and nutritional necessities.
  • Support for an urgently needed nationwide immunization campaign for children.

These are practical actions that would mean the difference between life and death. All parties to the conflict can agree on them, now.

And in doing so, they can take another step to peace. Peace for Syria. The peace that Syrians so desperately deserve.