News / Middle East

    Lebanon Prelates Urge End to Syrian Weapons Sales

    This photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), an anti-Bashar Assad activist group, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian men carrying a covered dead body after a government airstrike attack in the al-Mayssar neighborhood, in Aleppo, April 3, 2014.
    This photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), an anti-Bashar Assad activist group, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian men carrying a covered dead body after a government airstrike attack in the al-Mayssar neighborhood, in Aleppo, April 3, 2014.
    Lisa Schlein
    A high-level Christian delegation from Lebanon is calling for nations to stop selling arms to the warring factions in Syria.  The prelates say these weapons are fueling the war and impeding peace efforts. 

    A high-ranking delegation of Maronite prelates from Lebanon is at the United Nations in Geneva to press its case for peace in the Middle East, and in particular for Syria.  

    Archibishop Paul Sayah, who is Vicar-General to the Patriarch in Lebanon, said the war in Syria would stop when everybody stops selling arms to those who are fighting.

    He told VOA those who were supplying weapons had no thought for the suffering and misery endured by the civilian population.  He said their interest was for political or economic gain and this was unacceptable.

    “They should stop supplying arms to everybody and then people will come and sit together and talk peace.  As long as they are fed with arms and political support and money, people will continue.  It is good business for everybody ... As long as Assad thinks he is going to win, he is not going to stop.  If the others think they are going to win, they will never stop.  But they will know once those who are supplying the arms stop supplying the arms, that eventually they will have to stop,” he said.  

    Archbishop Sayah said the delegation, which was led by His Beatitude Cardinal Bechara, held a somewhat depressing meeting with U.N. Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.  He said the U.N. mediator felt disillusioned and saw no way forward in the peace process at the moment.

    “It looks like he is not going to be there for very long either ... I am sure somebody else will have to pick up.  The problem is start again, go back to square one, and this is a waste of time, this is a waste of lives,” he said.  

    More than 130,000 people reportedly have been killed during the past three years of civil war in Syria.  Around nine million have been displaced in, and outside, the country.  Lebanon, which is a much smaller country than Syria, recently registered its one-millionth refugee.

    Archbishop Sayah said this huge number of refugees was placing an intolerable burden upon the political, social, and economic wellbeing of Lebanon.  He said the refugees also were causing security concerns.  

    “The way things are at the moment, all those people are scattered all over the place in among the population.  They take the jobs of the Lebanese.  They are now causing a lot of security problems.  You know, with kidnappings, with murder, with all sorts of violence because those people are hungry.  They kidnap somebody and they ask for money.  Why?  They simply are hungry.  I am not condoning this, but that is the situation,” he said.  

    The archbishop said he and his fellow prelates supported the Lebanese government’s proposition that refugee camps for Syrians should be established either in safe areas inside Syria or in the no-man’s land between Syria and Lebanon.

    Under this plan, he said the United Nations would provide security for the camps and the U.N. refugee agency and other humanitarian organizations would provide relief supplies to the refugees.

    He said the delegation has discussed this proposal with the U.N. Director and other officials in Geneva.  But, as of now, he said, the delegation has not received a definite response as to whether the United Nations will or will not subscribe to this plan.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora