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Destruction in Homs, Syria (Fr Peter Balleis S.J. — Jesuit Refugee Service)

(Beirut) March 15, 2015 — "We have reached another sad commemoration; we feel exhausted and with little hope left. A Christian's way of proceeding is never to despair. We must continue to help every single Syrian brother and sister in need, until the massacres end," said Jesuit Refugee Service Syria Director Fr Nawras Sammour S.J. as the conflict enters its sixth year. 

Fr Sammour was in the midst of a visit to the JRS community kitchen in Damascus, which has been providing over 5,200 hot meals daily over the last five years to the displaced people most in need who are still forced to live in communal makeshift accommodations near the town of Sahnaya. 

After five years of a devastating conflict, this phase of fragile truce is starting to regenerate some minimal aspirations, a small light at the end of this destructive and senseless tragedy which has ripped apart Syrian society. Hundreds of thousands have died; millions have been displaced; the country is in ruins. This senseless civil war needs to stop once and for all. 

JRS expresses support for the recommencement of the negotiations between the fighting parties, but also demands that at some point within the negotiating process, the United Nations led mediation team should grant space for genuine bipartisan civil society groups to share their vision for a new post-conflict Syria.

Since the very beginning of this conflict, many community-based groups have been engaged in providing humanitarian assistance to people in need across social, cultural, tribal, sectarian and religious divides; this help was given exclusively on the basis of where the need was greatest. 

Over time, these groups have had difficulties to continue their mission, but others still manage to do so despite enormous difficulties and danger. In such a polarized context, it is essential that members of these groups are given the opportunity to share their views about how to bring back together fractured communities and help prepare them for future cohabitation for the Syria of tomorrow. 

Meanwhile, as a sign of greater international involvement in sharing the responsibility of caring for Syrian displaced and refugees with host countries Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, JRS welcomes the pledges expressed by many countries at the Donors' Conference hosted in London in early February of this year under the auspices of the governments of the United Kingdom, Kuwait, Germany and Norway. 

JRS also welcomes the commitment to ensure all Syrian refugee children are in school by the end of the 2016-2017 school year; together with the expectation that many of the barriers to access formal schooling experienced by Syrian refugee children are overcome and that quality and safe educational environment is assured to them. 

JRS will continue to be actively engaged with all relevant institutions, donor countries and agencies in monitoring and supporting the implementation of this process. 

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