Assyrian Party Supports Humanitarian Zone in Northeast Syria
By George Hanna
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The Hague (AINA) -- The Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) announced on Thursday, April 18 its support for a humanitarian zone in northeast Syria, where help can be provided to victims of the civil war. It would be an area the combatants would not be allowed to enter and it would provide a safe haven for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The Assyrians and other Christian minorities, who have lived for years in harmony with other groups in this area, are caught between the two sides and are now in danger of being uprooted from their homes and villages.

Humanitarian aid is barely reaching the Christian minorities.

The ADO voiced strong support for a number of policy recommendations in the report "Syrian Refugees Between Two Fires: Christians Additional Target in Conflict" by the Christian Union Party in the Dutch Parliament.

Mr. Joël Voordewind, Member of Parliament for the Christian Union, and Mr. Albert Koop, from Jubilee Campaign, visited refugees in Syria and Turkey in late March. Mr. Voordewind submitted the report of his trip Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans of the Labour Party. After the presentation there was a roundtable with various representatives of the Syrian community and aid organizations working in Syria. The representative of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Bishop Polycarpus, was also present at the meeting.

The Assyrian Democratic Organization asked Mr. Timmermans

1) to send more assitance, through international NGO's, to so-called liberated areas in Syria. There are several UNHCR refugee camps in Syria, but only in areas controlled by the regime. There are no camps in the areas under the control of the Free Syrian Army. Refugees in these areas live in bad conditions.

2) Provide protection to minorities such as the Assyrian Christians in North East Syria because there is fear among Syrian Christians for a repetition of the events which occurred in Iraq. After the invasion of the Americans in 2003, an exodus of Christians took place and there remain only half of the original Christian community in this Iraq. There is even fear of a new genocide.

3) Christians in surrounding countries to be provided temporary settlements, which will help to protect and support them, with the intention to repatriate them when the situation improves. To faciliate the asylum applications of Syrian Christians who have fled to in Europe, who have been targets and victims of Jihadists and other extremist groups. The Syrian Christians do not possess their own militias to protect themselves in Syria.

4) The human rights of minorities such as the Assyrians must be guaranteed in the new constitution as well as in practice before a new government is installed.

5) Christian refugees should be separately settled and by this means protected against by radical Muslims in other refugee camps.

The civil war in Syria has led to a massive exodus of refugees. More than 2 million Syrian civilians have been displaced as well, according to UN figures 1.3 million civilians have fled to countries in the region. The number of refugees is increasing daily.

The Foundation Help Christians in Syria (FHCS) was also present at the meeting. FHCS represents in the Netherlands the Syrian Christian Relief Organization (SCRO); it called for more humanitarian aid. The SCRO is a local Christian NGO in eastern Syria and offers relief to those in need as a result of the civil war. The aim of FHCS is to provide First Aid courses, to distribute food parcels and to set up education for children in cooperation with SCRO.

The Assyrian Democratic Organization requested other political parties to commit themselves to the suffering of the Syrian Christians in Syria and the surrounding countries.

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