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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.

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:
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs