A number of faith leaders – Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh – across the UK today issued a joint statement calling for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to Aleppo, in particular to the population remaining in eastern Aleppo which has been subject to large-scale aerial bombardment over recent months and is running short of food supplies.
UNHCR believe that 4.8 million people have fled Syria since 2011 seeking safety in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and beyond. A further 8.7 million people are predicted to be displaced inside Syria. (The population of Syria was estimated to have peaked at 22.5 million in 2012.)
While Damascus is the capital, Aleppo was once the largest city, with its thriving population hitting 2.3 million in 2005. However, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced during the battle for control of the city which has been raging since July 2012, some moving elsewhere in Syria, others leaving the country altogether.
The statement comes a week after the A Light For Aleppo initiative (organised through The University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy) that asked people to light candles on the evening of Sunday 20 November to raise awareness about the inhabitants of the under-seige city.
We, UK faith leaders, jointly call on the UK Government to act to support the urgent delivery of aid to those besieged in Aleppo.
In eastern Aleppo, an estimated 250,000 people, including 100,000 children, have been cut off from food and medical supplies since August 2016. The UN warns that there will soon be no food left in the besieged part of the city.
This is an ancient city which has been home to people of many faiths, we pray for all those still in the city and call for action to preserve the lives of the people of Aleppo.
The situation is now desperate, yet the UN is still being prevented from delivering desperately needed aid to the besieged civilians. It seems a very real possibility that the world could stand by whilst 250,000 people are facing starvation.
As faith leaders we bear witness to the suffering of all those in the city of Aleppo. We call on the UK government to take action at an international level, including in the UN General Assembly, and to provide practical support to facilitate the delivery of aid to civilians in the city.
The UK can lead the way in alleviating the terrible suffering of the people of Aleppo, we pray that action is taken to come to their aid.
Muslim Council of Britain, Harun Khan, Secretary Genera
Baptist Union of Great Britain, The Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary
Church of Scotland, The Rev Dr Richard Frazer, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland
Hindu Council UK, Sanjay Jagatia, Director.
Methodist Church, Revd Dr Roger Walton, President of the Methodist Conference and
Rachel Lampard, Vice President of the Methodist Conference.
United Reformed Church, The Revd John Proctor, General Secretary.
Sikh Council UK, Mr Gurmel Singh, Secretary General.
Mohammed Kozbar, Director of Finsbury Park Mosque.
Lewisham Islamic Centre, Imam Shakeel Begg.
Reform Judaism, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi.
Liberal Judaism, Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive.