Invited by the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, Mgr. Audo, bishop of Aleppo and President of Caritas Syria, was in Belgium yesterday. On the agenda: a public hearing at the European Parliament on the crisis and human rights situation in Syria.
A privileged witness
Mgr. Audo is a privileged witness: he has been working and living in Aleppo for many years and together with 200 members of Caritas and numerous volunteers, he works every day to support the most vulnerable people. All over the country, Caritas distributes food, clothes and fuel, searches for accommodations and provides medical care to these vulnerable groups.
Among the speakers at the European Parliament were also:: Shiyar Khaleal, a representative of the Syrian civil society; Matthias Behnke, coordinator of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights ; Prof. Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division.
HUMAN DIGNITY, SOLIDARITY AND COMMON GOOD
According to Mgr. Audo, the Church’s social doctrine is a core principle. « Human dignity, solidarity and common good: these are our fundamental values », stressed Mgr.Audo. Christians are not any better than the others because of their origins and religion, they must yearn to engage in real dialogue and achieve reconciliation with due respect for others. However, Mgr. Audo stressed again that the atrocities committed by the parties involved in the conflict cannot be forgotten.
Aleppo’s bishop assured one thing: Caritas will always do its best to help those in need in Syria, whether Christian or not, within the available means. Caritas can rely on a collaboration based on mutual trust with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, an organization related to the Red Cross.
Since the defeat of the rebels in east Aleppo, the city has experienced a relative peace. The inhabitants are starting to believe again that peace is achievable. Caritas opened a center for mothers and their infants, as well as for the elderly. The Red Crescent also asked Caritas to take care of 500 families.
The fighting has to stop. We need food, water, electricity, gas and medical care. And as soon as possible: education and job opportunities. «One of the key elements in building the peace is citizenship education for young people », declared Mgr. Audo « In other words: education to reconciliation. Only then can peace be sustainable. »
You can find here the content of the hearing at the European Parliament.