Junge: Moral Dimension Must Be at Center of Syria Negotiations

Kofi Annan greets Martin Junge at the WCC consultation © Peter Williams/WCC
Kofi Annan greets Martin Junge at the WCC consultation © Peter Williams/WCC

LWF Calls for Peace in Syria, While Pledging More Humanitarian Assistance

GENEVA, 25 September 2013 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is joining church leaders from Syria, Russia, Turkey, the United States of America and the European Union (EU) in calling for a political solution as the only way towards peace in Syria.

“The LWF insists on international law and humanitarian principles to be applied,” said LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge following a consultation on Syria convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Bossey, Switzerland, on 18 September.

The WCC consultation was joined by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and UN-Arab League joint representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi. Both Annan and Brahimi challenged the churches to continue to be a voice for peace, to work with other religious communities toward a post-conflict Syria and to intensify their humanitarian response.

Speaking to Lutheran World Information (LWI) after the consultation Junge said, “We are concerned with the perceived paralysis of the international community to address the issues at stake. The delay is causing more harm and death, particularly among the civilian population. Every day of delay is costing the lives of hundreds of people.”

“The moral dimension needs to be at the center of negotiations,” Junge emphasized.

The LWF was invited to attend the consultation by WCC General Secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit because of its prominence in the ecumenical movement and its major role as a church-based humanitarian actor.

Junge pledged enhanced humanitarian efforts to refugees from the war-stricken country, stating that the humanitarian situation in Syria is of immediate concern.

The LWF is working with Syrian refugees at the Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan, which is located 70 kilometers from the Syrian border. The LWF provides shelter, camp management, psycho-social support and education services for the growing number of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria.

“We at the LWF are prepared to do more [in terms of humanitarian assistance] within the ecumenical family, in coordination with the ACT Alliance,” added Junge. “Humanitarian efforts need to be redoubled.”

In a 2 September statement Junge and LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan urged governments to refrain from military action to address the complicated issues in Syria. In 2012, the LWF Council joined the UN in calling for an end to violence and human rights abuse in Syria.

Following the WCC consultation, the LWF general secretary reiterated LWF’s stand that military action will not resolve the Syrian crisis. He highlighted the LWF’s insistence on the adherence to international law and humanitarian principles, particularly around the protection of refugees and civilians.

“There is a convention banning the use of chemical weapons in our world. The convention needs to be enforced. The way this will be done needs to comply with international law and the international community needs to work together on this important matter.

“It is not for a single country, nor for self-appointed coalitions to enforce the convention, but for the international community,” Junge said.

The LWF general secretary praised the Syrian churches for their unwavering commitment to peace building in challenging circumstances, adding that their vision of a country that allows diverse communities to live in unity is a gift in a time of extremism.

At the WCC consultation, church leaders from several church denominations stated that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Syria and in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting said, “Churches must continue to raise their voice in their congregations, in their societies and with their governments. We must strengthen the public outcry so that those in power will protect the common interest of humanity.