Wednesday, 08 December 2021

The imponderables of terrible conflict

WITH our screens full of the unimaginable suffering of those fleeing Syria, and of those still inside the

WITH our screens full of the unimaginable suffering of those fleeing Syria, and of those still inside the war zone, all of us, whether “religious” or not, are wondering what can be done: How can we help, if at all? How did it start anyway and when will it end?

Response to crisis is never cut and dried and is always open to criticism, especially in retrospect.

Did political decisions taken a few years ago cause an escalation of the war in Syria? How far did previous unfortunate responses to a conflict elsewhere colour the judgment of present politicians over this one?

Whatever the possible answers to these questions may be, we are where we are, as they say.

In any search for peace, we must establish the facts of the crisis in Syria, a country from which a third of the population has fled and within which 6.6 million people are internally displaced.

What is to happen when the threat from massive migration has led to an instinctive tightening of borders, even within the Middle East?

It is heartwarming, therefore, to hear from those who venture into places of terror and starvation to bring whatever relief they can. Their actions are a challenge to our own responses.

How should Europe respond when the practical challenge of the speed and sheer numbers of people on the move seem overwhelming, or when identifying the actual status of a migrant or refugee is so complex? Where is the money going to come from and the resources to enable a humane response to each individual who arrives, totally exhausted, hungry and frightened, after months of travelling?

Those who know the facts are working tirelessly to come up with a strategy that is long-term and coherent and for sharing the financial burden.

Host countries might also see the crisis as an opportunity for welcoming the skills and expertise of those who come to settle among us because they cannot return home.

A series of talks on Syria, hosted by Churches Together in Henley over the next few weeks, gives us the opportunity to be informed about these heart-rending problems and hear from individuals who are directly involved in working on the ground — in Syrian refugee camps and among refugees in Europe, or asserting international humanitarian law to protect civilians. We will also hear from those who are searching for the mind of Christ regarding some of these imponderables.

Do come to the Christ Church Centre on Wednesdays at 7.30pm until the week before Easter. Perhaps there are ways we can go beyond just caring deeply about the suffering of our fellow human beings.

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