Archbishop Auza’s address focussed on three areas where “tragic conflicts continue to burden the lands and peoples of the Middle East”. It is “essential to protect the life and dignity of the victims of armed conflict and to ensure the protection of defenceless peoples and civil structures, especially hospitals, schools, places of worship, refugee camps”, said the Archbishop.
A recent UN Security Council briefing on Yemen confirmed how the humanitarian situation there remains dire, said Archbishop Auza: “Children are starving; access to clean water is scarce; the economy continues to struggle severely; those who cannot flee the front lines of war remain cut off from basic supplies and humanitarian workers are impeded to operate in some areas”. According to the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, September was the deadliest month this year in Yemen, with an average of thirteen people killed each day.
In spite of some small positive steps, a nation-wide ceasefire repeatedly called for by the United Nations, “is essential if the intolerable suffering of the Yemeni people is ever to come to an end”, said Archbishop Auza. “Coherence and honesty demand that this call for a ceasefire must be concretely accompanied with a stop to the flow of arms in the region”, he added.
Recent events in the Northeast of Syria “are cause for great concern”, continued the Archbishop. He repeated Pope Francis’ appeal during the Sunday Angelus of October 13th for all those people who are “forced to abandon their homes due to military actions.” On that occasion, the Pope renewed his appeal to all the actors involved as well as to the international community, “to commit yourselves, with sincerity, with honesty and with transparency on the path of dialogue to seek effective solutions”. Archbishop Auza continued his intervention saying: “It is important that safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian assistance be given to the thousands of people who have been forced to flee since earlier this month, many of whom are children, assuring the full respect of their fundamental human rights, the preservation of their ethnic identity and avoiding the creation of new sources of tensions and injustice”.
Moving specifically to the Palestinian Question, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer recalled the three-year anniversary of Security Council Resolution 2334. “There is indeed cause for great concern as the situation on the ground worsens”, he said. “Harmful rhetoric, threats, terrorism and violence, including at times disproportionate use of force on the part of the security forces, exacerbate the strained situation even further”, continued Archbishop Auza.
He went on to address the issue of Christian communities feeling “constrained to abandon these lands, the very cradle of their faith, in search of peace and security for themselves and for their children”. Their presence and witness in these places is of fundamental importance, he added, calling for more to be done to ensure their protection, “not only for their survival but also for them, like all citizens living in Israel and Palestine, to realize their full potential and integral human development”.