Open Doors International, a global charity serving Christians who are under pressure because of their faith, has joined 38 non-governmental organizations in a campaign demanding diplomatic action to protect civilians amid Syria’s civil war.
The campaign, called ‘With Syria,’ intends to redouble pressure on United Nations members to live up to promises they made in February. At that time, the UN Security Council unanimously endorsed a resolution condemning both sides in the conflict of “besieging civilians as a tactic of war” and demanding that the Syrian government permit humanitarian access to civilians.
“Six months later, the country is more chaotic than ever, with more than 1,500 armed groups in operation across the country, and fighting spreading into northern Iraq,” the With Syria campaign said in a Sept. 23 press release.
The campaign has created an online petition, addressed to “world leaders,” to “use your power to hold the UN Security Council to its word.”
The coalition, comprised of organizations in 27 countries, announced its campaign just ahead of a week-long session of the UN General Assembly, scheduled to begin Sept. 24.
Open Doors International operates in more than 50 countries, providing Christian materials, training, trauma counseling, emergency relief and other services. In the With Syria campaign, it joins humanitarian and development NGOs such as Amnesty International, Save the Children, and churches such as the Church of England.
The Open Doors affiliate in the United Kingdom said OD was joining the partnership “to bring the suffering Syrian population back into the centre of the debate, where they belong.” The initiative, it said, is in line with “the church’s call for a ceasefire and protection for all.”
Syria ranks No. 3, behind North Korea and Somalia, on the Open Doors World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Before the war, the government’s “totalitarian paranoia” was the primary source of pressure on Christians. Now, it says the biggest source of persecution is “extremist Islamist elements.”