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Published on 11 April, 2012

Syrian ceasefire changes little

Syria
(MNN) — The ceasefire in Syria was greeted yesterday by the deaths of 31
people at the hands of Syrian troops.

Instead
of silencing their guns and withdrawing, President
Bashar al-Assad's troops pursued his opponents with dogged determination
intent on adding more to the 9,000 already killed since last March.

The
consequences of dishonoring the ceasefire are unclear. Britain may be ready to take steps to refer Assad to the International Criminal
Court. At the same time, some countries favor
giving military support to the opposition, while others are reluctant to add
more military to the conflict.

Under
the peace plan it agreed to, Syria is supposed to complete the drawback of its
troops and armor from population centers ahead of a complete ceasefire on
Thursday. However, not only does it
appear that Syria is ignoring the treaty, but
also the violence appears to have spilled over into Lebanon and Turkey.

Tens
of thousands Syrians have fled across the border
into Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and more are coming
every day. The countries receiving them
are ill-equipped to handle the influx.

Many of them are being met by Southern Baptists ministry partners
with badly-needed aid and the love of Jesus. Baptist
Global Response
is the humanitarian aid wing of the Southern Baptist Church. Spokesman Jeff Palmer says they're doing what
they can to help. "We've
been able to help along the edges, in some of the areas where the refugees are
coming out."

The
disappointing aspect is that despite dim hope for peace, there has been no let-up
in the violence. In fact, it's as if
there never was a ceasefire, says Palmer. "We're not changing our
strategies right now significantly, based upon the ceasefire, because
technically on the ground we're not seeing 
a lot of differences." 

Since most of the refugees fled with the clothes on their backs,
they had no way to survive in the camps without help. "We're still
providing food, some temporarily shelter, basic necessities for families. We're
using local partners in different countries to help us do the local
response."

BGR teams are taking a "wait and see" approach to Syria's
ceasefire. Palmer says, "Even in
the places where we've seen some positive changes, in areas like Libya, all of these changes bring additional challenges. So even with the
ceasefire going forward in Syria, we knew that it would be weeks–even months–before we knew what all of that means."

Needs are increasing as the crisis darkens, and the plight of the
people worsens. "In those border
areas where folks are fleeing out of Syria, our greatest partners have been
the local church. They've been able to help us to disperse almost $100,000
worth of aid in food, shelter, clothing."

Already,
human needs funds have helped more than 12,000 people in at least 49
communities, Palmer notes. He goes on
to add that because of how they approach the needs, "We're able to partner
with local believers to minister to those [fleeing]. Christians become the hands in
terms of helping, and also the feet in
terms of taking the message of hope to
the folks that are leaving." 

The
Southern Baptist aid is helping not only the fleeing Syrians, but also
the Christians in neighboring countries by empowering them to be a blessing to
their local communities. "Pray for
wisdom and knowledge for the churches in
two different countries outside of Syria which are helping to respond and
receive these refugees," Palmer asks. He adds, "Pray for them to be
wise as serpents but gentle as doves because there's a lot of danger."

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About Syria

  • Primary Language: Arabic, Standard
  • Primary Religion: Islam
  • Evangelical: 0.1%
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