‘UN should send peacekeepers to Syria’

18 September 2015

Smaeer Al Doumy/young lens

"I'm here . . . still alive!": a boy is found and saved from the rubble after a bombing raid by President Assad’s forces on Douma, eastern Ghouta, in June. It is one of an ongoing series of images taken by Young Lens, a group of young people from Syria who are documenting through photography their experience of the war. The Children’s War Museum project is looking for schools, churches, and other groups that are interested in exhibiting Young Lens’s work

"I'm here . . . still alive!": a boy is found and saved from the rubble after a bombing raid by President Assad’s forces on Douma, easter...

THE 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), at an emergency meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Sunday, called for the UN Security Council to send peacekeepers to Syria. It was part of a proposed package of measures to deal with worsening humanitarian conditions in the country and the burgeoning refugee crisis.

The secretary general of OIC, Iyad Ameen Madani, said that the refugee crisis was "not just a Middle Eastern problem, a regional or international problem: it is a global problem. It is imperative, therefore, that the UN take proactive steps to address the instability and insecurity within Syria that has caused this exodus. A multi-dimensional UN peace-keeping operation" could help provide stability.

Appealing as this solution sounds, it is unlikely to result in UN troops’ being deployed on peace-keeping duties in Syria in the near future. Trying to secure agreement from the permanent members of the Security Council, the Syrian government, and the many opposition groups to such a deployment would present a nightmare of a diplomatic challenge.

Not only do the United States and Russia, for example, differ greatly over the form and shape of a future Syria, but also several OIC members are themselves involved directly or indirectly on different sides in the Syrian war. Some of the latter are insisting that President Assad be removed from power, and so they would be unlikely to sign up to a deal that saw the UN deployed before a change of regime.

Aside from calling for UN intervention in Syria, the OIC gathering in Jeddah urged Islamic countries to do more to help Syrian refugees "as a mark of Islamic compassion and solidarity. The meeting commended the generosity of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt for hosting" the homeless Syrians "in spite of limited resources and capacity". The oil-rich Gulf states have been criticised in some quarters for not doing more to help absorb some of the refugees trying to reach Europe.

 

Anyone interested in hosting Young Lens Syria photographs should contact Brian Devlin, via eildon@hotmail.co.uk; Tel: 01896 756402; or by post, at The Children's War Museum, 4 Manse Lane, Galashiels, Scottish Borders, TD1 1NB.

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