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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs