At their recent Autumn General Meeting in Maynooth, bishops reflected on the shocking upsurge in violence in the Syrian city of Aleppo and noted the debate which took place on 5 October in Dáil Éireann concerning this human catastrophe. They also acknowledged the work of Trócaire, the Bishops’ Conference overseas aid agency, which is responding to the violence in Aleppo where the approximately 200,000 people living in the eastern half of the city have come under relentless attack.
Bishops echoed the call of Pope Francis who has said, “I appeal to the consciences of those responsible for the bombing that they must give a reckoning to God.” They discussed with great concern the high level of violence in Aleppo, in particular the deliberate targeting of civilian areas, including hospitals, where many people have been killed. Noting the powerful military assault on the homes of people who have already lived with a lack of medical care, water and food for several years, bishops expressed the need for full humanitarian access into the city. The opening of safe corridors would allow for the distribution of emergency aid to people trapped in the city.
Bishops encouraged the Government to utilise diplomatic channels and to ask UN Security Council members, including Russia, for a ceasefire and for humanitarian access. As the Gospel of Matthew tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Bishops also prayed for a political solution to this war and for all the people of Syria that their suffering will soon be at an end and they can begin to rebuild their country.