10/25/2013, 00.00
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Syrian-Orthodox bishop appeals to rescue the innocent people of Qalamoun

by Silwanos Boutros Naameh
For four days, villages under siege by rebels and jihadis are without food, medicines, electricity and communications. The rebels belong to the Saudi-backed group Liwa al-Islam. The bishop calls for a humanitarian corridor to the besieged communities, urging their besiegers to show some "mercy."

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The Syrian-Orthodox Bishop Silvanus Boutros Naame issued an appeal on behalf of the 3,000 or so residents of Sadad and Hofar, in the Qalamoun region (western Syria, near Lebanon), asking that they be spared and relieved from the siege which they are currently under, and moved to safe places near Homs.

The bishop's appeal is for all religious leaders of the world and for all the leaders of nations, as well as to men of good, that the residents, who have been forced to remain locked up in their homes without food or medicines, be allowed to escape the siege.

The Qalamoun area is under the control of Islamist insurgents from the Liwa al-Islam group, which is led by Zahran Aloush and backed financially and militarily by Saudi Arabia.

The occupation of Qalamoun is the starting point for a new war against the Syrian army and the Lebanese Hizbollah, that would place the Bekaa Valley and the lines of communication between Homs and Damascus under Jihadist control.

We publish Mgr Silvanus' appeal, calling on everyone to disseminate it around the world.

To the world's humanitarian and religious institutions and organisations as well as to all the people of good will and those who play a humanitarian role, I am addressing this appeal on behalf of men, women, children, boys and girls, who are currently under siege in areas that are inaccessible, which they cannot leave and which we cannot reach.

These villages are Sadad and Hofar, in the Qalamoun area in Syria. I am writing these words so that you might appeal to the besiegers who have banned residents from leaving, that they might agree to talks in order to facilitate the safe departure of the residents, in any direction, either towards the Convent of Al Attieh or towards the city of Homs where we may welcome them.

I implore all those who belong to the world's influential organisations and those who are in contact with the parties [at war], that they may put pressure on and negotiate with the besiegers, passing on this request for the safe release of the captive residents, this even though most of them have not yet suffered abuse.

These people have been under siege for the past four days without electricity and water, or means of communication. They have little food. Among them, there are children who need milk, and sick people who need medicines.

Around 3,000 people live in the beleaguered communities. Their besiegers are not letting them leave their homes. Indeed, they are putting pressure on them to stay put despite having held talks with them.

We call on all organisations, on all the children of our churches scattered throughout the world, to provide aid and active support. Help us; work with us in the right way, without making statements that could affect the safety of the besieged. Our people shall never forget.

I repeat, reiterating our good intentions so as not to jeopardise the safety of our loved ones: Please post this appeal on your blogs and websites, send it to newspapers, magazines and other media outlets. Send it also to all those who could play a positive role in finding a solution that would secure the residents' release.

For our part, in our mission, we repeat in God's name, and call on the besiegers to show mercy to these innocent people who are not responsible for this tragedy. Let them go, safely and treat them well. We call on God to give these innocent people patience, strength, hope, courage, health and vigour. . . . Lord, Lord, Lord; do not abandon them!


Mgr Silvanus, Syrian-Orthodox bishop

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