News / Middle East

UN Chief Condemns Priest's Killing in Syria

An undated photo released April 7, 2014 by anti-government activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has been authenticated, shows Dutch Father Francis Van Der Lugt in Homs, Syria.
An undated photo released April 7, 2014 by anti-government activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has been authenticated, shows Dutch Father Francis Van Der Lugt in Homs, Syria.
VOA News
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the killing of a Dutch priest in the besieged Syrian city of Homs, calling his shooting death an "inhumane act of violence."

The 75-year-old Jesuit priest, Frans Van Der Lugt, had lived in Syria for decades and had refused to leave Homs despite more than a year of intense fighting there.

Ban said he "heroically stood by the people of Syria" through growing difficulties in the country.

The U.N. chief's spokesman said the killing highlights the urgent need to protect civilians, and Ban demanded that all sides in Syria ensure that people of every religion and ethnicity are protected.

Witnesses said an unknown gunman entered Van Der Lugt's monastery Monday, took him to the garden and shot him in the head. They said he appeared to have been directly targeted.

Van Der Lugt was a well-known figure in Homs, a rebel-held city that has been under a government siege for more than a year. The priest was respected by many for his efforts to get a blockade lifted so that aid could enter the city.

A Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi said Van Der Lugt showed great courage in remaining loyal to the Syrian people despite an extremely risky situation.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki said the United States is "saddened" by the news of Van Der Lugt's death. She said the priest worked to mitigate the immense suffering in Homs. The spokeswoman also deplored continued threats against Christians in Syria.

Some Islamist militants among Syria's rebels have targeted Christians, forcing more than 450,000 of them to flee their homes.  Before the civil war, Syria had an estimated Christian population of 2.5 million.
  • Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad carry pictures of him and his late father, former Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, as they commemorate the 67th anniversary of the founding of the Baath party, at an undisclosed location, April 7, 2014.
  • A rebel fighter runs for cover after firing towards the regime's post where forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are located, in Idlib countryside, April 7, 2014.
  • A Syrian man helps a survivor out of a damaged building following an airstrike by Syrian warplanes, Aleppo, April 6, 2014.
  • People work in a field in Aleppo's countryside, April 6, 2014. 
  • Children fill their containers during a water shortage, in Aleppo, April 6, 2014. 
  • Civil defense rescue workers carrying the body of a victim of a Syrian government airstrike, Aleppo, April 6, 2014.

     

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
April 08, 2014 1:09 AM
MORE than likely, the gun and bullets were provided by the US and EU to those fighting against Assad and killing the Syrian people, and also killing everybody of a different faith than they are. --- YES, the guns and bullets supplied by the US and EU, most likely caused his and tens of thousands other deaths.. --- WAR should be the very last option, but the US and EU couldn't wait to get rid of Assad, no matter how many Syrians die.. --- The war would end in a month, IF the US and EU stopped supplying the guns and bullets..... REALLY

by: Anonymous from: Mars
April 07, 2014 11:18 PM
Obama team just sent anti-tank weapons to the FSA/Al-Nusra alliance. So what can one expect from the rebels that do not tolerate Christianity? And why is NATO so obsessed with controlling that part of the middle East while claiming there are nor new energy sources in the West. It is easy, there in need to gas/oil pipe line to throw out Russia from Sea port in the Mediterranean. If it was about concern for civilian death, West would not be sending weapons to help such a bunch of rebels. USA/Turkey/Israel/Saudi Arabia/Qatar appear to prefer the continued suffering or Syria population and more destruction of the country. Sending arms or bombing Syria Govt position is surely a help to the Al-Qaeda/FSA/Al-Nusra allaince.
In Response

by: Anonymous from: Jupiter
April 08, 2014 6:26 AM
The US should use the money wasted on the Syrian war, and the rest of the Middle East, to build synthetic oil plants. It could then abandon the Middle East entirely. Of course, it should have done this 40 years ago and it still hasn't done a thing. I'm not holding my breath waiting for something to happen.

by: Aydin from: Australia
April 07, 2014 11:04 PM
Even sadder is the amount of coverage this one person (Dutch priest) gets compared to the numerous women and children slain daily by a brutal regime that is free to do whatever it wants with whom it wants.
In Response

by: Phil
April 10, 2014 9:50 AM
You don't understand what kind of person he was. He was like a Mother Theresa for the Christian in Syria. I know it, I spent all my youth with him.

by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
April 07, 2014 10:29 PM
This is the result to sponsor terrorist group by Saudi Arabia,Turkey,Qatar,Jordon and Nato. What is the use to utilise resources for destrution. Even Today SA is pressing USA to supply deadly weapons to world famous terrorist group to kill woman,girls,children and where ever possible rape and kill girls in a very bruetal manner and all this in the name of civil liberty. I feel very sad the role played by UN in this crisis. They always speak in A/C Office with full security. I feel UN role is destruction rather construction. Give me one example in the last 30 years UN role in construction. First of all they CREATE problem and then after long gape try to solve it. By the way all writer,director and actor of this tragedy are educated and live in civilised society.

by: Not Again from: Canada
April 07, 2014 10:42 AM
How can any human being commit such a crime? Just because this innocent priest complained about the terrible reality the population in Homs was facing, he gets murdered. As much of the same mass murders of innocent civilians, including women and children, there is no possible explanation to such dastardly and horrendous crimes. What is even sadder is that it is quite likekly that the perpetrators of these henious crimes will never face justice. Such crimes do not just reflect baddly on the perpetrators, but on all of humanity that stands by and does nothing to prevent them. The fact that no one has claimed the dastardly crime, and the fact that the priest made the video, it most likely, that Assad and his chronies had a hand in this one, like the many tens of thousands they killed in their custody and blockaded neighborhouds with no claims; but all groups, terrorizing civilians, are suspect of these type of crimes.
In Response

by: Anonymous
April 07, 2014 11:20 PM
Fake conclusion you make, why blame Assad and team who have protected minorities of other religions of many years? The rebels want to see only one religion-and the Sharia version, go figure!
In Response

by: Mike from: yellowhumming@gmail.com
April 07, 2014 9:59 PM
The father said the opposition was not supported by the majority of Syrians:

>>>>Father Frans expressed doubts about the government’s opponents in a letter to the website of a Dutch group favoring the Syrian government in January 2012. “Most Syrians do not support the opposition,” he wrote. “Therefore, you cannot say that this is a popular uprising.” Brenda Stoter Boscolo, a Dutch journalist, said Father Frans still said he felt that way in 2013, after the government had bombarded the Old City for months.<<<<

And he was shot in a insurgent controlled area, so it was likely an insurgent group that killed him.
In Response

by: LittleBat
April 07, 2014 7:04 PM
This priest was a victim of the Islamist rebels in Syria. There can be no doubt of this, and Syrian govt forces are not in control of Homs - it is in the power of these extremists, who are generously funded by the EU and NATO. Anyone who has any doubts on this matter, should consider the similar case of Jesuit Father Paolo - an active sympathiser of the rebels - who also was a victim of their murderous ways.

I find the vague wording of this report by VoA, and the evasion of the issue of who is responsible for this, to be very odd.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs