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.


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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.

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