|Indiscriminate attacks are targeting densely populated civilian areas of Damascus and Aleppo, Syria. The level of violence in Damascus has reached unprecedented levels. (Jesuit Refugee Service file photo)|
|For the future of the whole region, the international community — including regional states — must do all in their power to halt the violence immediately.|
(Rome) February 5, 2015 — Jesuit Refugee Service is extremely alarmed by the escalation in attacks on Aleppo and Damascus in the last few days. These indiscriminate attacks are targeting densely populated civilian areas. The level of violence in Damascus has reached unprecedented levels. The international community must take urgent action to protect the lives of civilian populations.
Nearly four years of conflict in Syria has left untold damage, suffering and loss of life in what was once a stable and relatively prosperous nation. According to figures released by international humanitarian agencies, more than 200,000 Syrians have been killed and some 10 million have been forcibly displaced. In addition, nearly a quarter of a million are forced to live under siege.
"Attacks have purposefully targeted civilian areas where high numbers of internally displaced persons and local residents live side by side. Not only do these attacks sow panic and fear, cause great structural damage and loss of life, they also fuel already tense sectarian relations," said a JRS staff member in Damascus.
Attacks hamper humanitarian assistance, forcing NGOs to evacuate their staff, suspend and halt activities. Children are left stranded at schools. In the midst of violence, parents frantically try to reach their children, putting their own lives at risk. It is those unable to protect themselves who ultimately bear the cost physically and psychologically of the violence.
"Continued military engagement will only deepen the humanitarian crisis. For the future of the whole region, the international community — including regional states — must do all in their power to halt the violence immediately."
In order to expand the efficacy of humanitarian assistance within Syria, more support should be given to civil society groups operating in the most affected areas, unreachable by international organizations. These Syrian networks and organizations offer hope for civilians and are the only ones able to provide much-needed assistance with very little means. Engaging local actors is a way of building capacity for the long-term and helping Syrians to resist the logic of violence and war.
Neighboring countries have borne the greatest responsibility for the protection of those fleeing conflict. Lebanon alone hosts more than one million Syrian refugees, putting massive strains on infrastructure in the small Mediterranean nation. Refugees are homeless and unemployed, and children are out of school. They urgently need massive increases in technical and financial support from the international community.
Learn more: Helping the vulnerable in Syria's Conflict.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is an international Catholic non-governmental organization whose mission is to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.
To accompany means to be a companion. We are companions of Jesus, so we wish to be companions of those with whom he preferred to be associated, the poor and the outcast. JRS services are made available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs. JRS advocates for just and generous policies and programs for the benefit of victims of forced displacement, so that those made vulnerable by exile can receive support and protection and durable solution to their plight can be achieved.
JRS/USA witnesses to God's presence in vulnerable and often forgotten people driven from their homes by conflict, natural disaster, economic injustice, or violation of their human rights.
As one of the ten geographic regions of Jesuit Refugee Service, JRS/USA serves as the major refugee outreach arm of U.S. Jesuits and their institutional ministries, mobilizing their response to refugee situations in the U.S. and abroad. Through our advocacy and fund raising efforts, JRS/USA provides support for the work of JRS throughout the world.
JRS/USA gives help, hope, ear and voice to vulnerable people on the move by being present to and bearing witness to their plight; by relieving their human suffering and restoring hope; by addressing the root causes of their displacement and improving international responses to refugee situations.
In addition, JRS/USA inspires the Ignatian family and others to respond together to the needs of refugees and displaced persons worldwide and forges strong partnerships with like-minded institutions and agencies devoted to the cause of refugees and displaced persons.
JRS works in more than 50 countries worldwide to meet the educational, health, social and other needs of approximately 950,000 refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, more than half of whom are women. JRS services are available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.
Approximately 280,000 children, young people and adults receive primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational education services each year. JRS places the highest priority on ensuring a better future for refugees by investing heavily in education and training. Further, JRS undertakes advocacy to ensure all displaced children be provided with access to quality education. JRS services are provided to refugees regardless of race, ethnic origin or religious beliefs.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria