(Photos courtesy Christian Aid Mission)
Syria (MNN) ― The United Nations warns that things in Syria are a long way from stabilizing.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a report yesterday indicating the war is becoming increasingly sectarian and radicalized. Christian Aid Mission spokesman Bill Bray says that may have to do with the presence of foreign fighters. "The more radical the attackers, the more jihadist are the attacks against the Assad regime."
Another area of concern is the access to the supply of weapons. At the same time, a U.N. human rights investigator says it's time for the United Nations Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes committed on both sides. While the government response has been vicious, rebels have placed military targets in civilian areas. The issues reviewed in the report will likely feature in the Human Rights Council in March, when member states discuss the commission's mandate.
Worse yet, says Bray, "They're really stuck in this nightmare. The borders have become more sealed. Killing seems to be random. [It] seems that anybody who's not a combatant is fair game."
A government report counts at least three million Internally Displaced People, while the refugees fleeing to neighboring Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan number over 130,000. It's a country on the move, though, and those numbers are likely to fluctuate in the crisis.
According to believers supported by Christian Aid Mission, electricity is available only one or two hours a day. Refrigeration, regular communications, and business activities are impossible. They say food and fuel prices are soaring. Even bread, when it is available, costs 12 times its price prior to the revolution.
Christians are working together under a roughly organized network of pastors and workers who are trying to provide help and spiritual strength. However, Bray admits, "We're having a hard time with the national workers, getting materials in. Everybody that can leave the country is leaving the country." Bray adds that many others are simply trapped in areas as collateral damage. "People are living in their homes, and they're living under siege."
While everything in the society surrounding believers seems hopeless, they remain faithful, anchoring their hope and encouragement in Christ. However, Bray explains that they have been hampered by the constant sniper fire, gun battles, and mortars. "They continue to deliver aid as they can, but it's harder to get in, it's harder to get out. It's so much more dangerous now."
Funding is the most efficient way to help, notes Bray. He says it's the quickest method of meeting needs, least noticeable, and minimizes the target risk presented by aid trucks. The assistance helps ministries to buy bottles of cooking gas, pay electric bills, purchase food and needed medicines. Believers are sensitive to the distress and crisis of faith of those they're assisting, Bray adds. "The Gospel witness that's occurring is limited to kind of like grief counseling and trying to give the hope and the love of Christ."
Pray for the believers who are trapped inside Syria. They need God's comfort, strength, and boldness. Pray for the unbelievers who are also caught in the middle of the fighting but have no hope in Christ. Pray for the local believers as they share Christ. Pray for those who have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, and Europe.