Civil war broke out in Syria in 2011 after the Assad regime resisted the regional movement towards democracy known as “the Arab Spring”. Initially a war between the government and a rebel movement, the rise of ISIS has added a third major party to the conflict. The situation is made more complex by the presence of outside interests, with Russia supporting the Syrian government, the United States supporting the rebellion movement, and the US and Russia coming together, often uneasily, to combat ISIS.
12 million Syrians, which equals 65% of the population, have been forcibly displaced, including 5.5 million who have become refugees. They have found refuge mainly in neighbouring countries. 2.8 million Syrian refugees are now hosted by Turkey, 1 million by Lebanon, 650,000 by Jordan, 230,000 by Iraq and 116,000 by Egypt. These countries are understandably struggling to cope with the large and rapid increase in their population. Imagine having to suddenly find housing, provide schooling medical services for hundreds of thousands of people.
We are a swirling sea of emotion
as we contemplate the tragedy that has befallen Syria.
We feel anger at the ways violence is employed
to serve the interests of the powerful, yet does so at great cost to people;
We feel despair at the complex history, political interests, and
entanglements that make an end to the war seem so far off;
We feel compassion for the children, women and men
whose lives been turned upside down,
who have lost people they love,
and wonder what their future will be.
We pray for peace,
We pray for peacemakers to break the cycle of violence and retribution,
We ask that you raise up peacemakers in each of the warring groups and the
international alliances that back them.
We pray for those whose lives have been turned upside down by the war.
Give those who have lost family members the space to grieve and the capacity to grieve well;
Give those who have fled the violence places of safety and protection,
communities in which they can thrive and begin to hope again.
We pray particularly for the 12,000 Syrian refugees being resettled in Australia.
May the communities in which they settle be open to them, gracious and welcoming.
Finally we pray for ourselves, that you may open our hearts and the hearts of all
Australians to their fellow human beings who are suffering around the world.
Grant us an ever-increasing compassion, ever-increasing wisdom, and everincreasing
willingness to be their neighbour.
You can download this prayer as part of a prayer exercise at ajustcause.com.au
photo credit: Corey Oakley <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/57496734@N07/21044027148″>Light the Dark – vigil for refugees in Melbourne</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a></div..
The factions in Syria are symbolic of the Middle East, the response by outside parties symbolic of humanity’s limited options of response. As Christians, we know that the only lasting solution will be ushered in with the return of the Prince of Peace. Until then, we continue to “love our neighbours as ourselves”, however imperfectly! Thank you for this reminder to prayer! For further info on this issue go to my website: http://www.worldwiderefugeeprayernetwork.com