His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of
the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom
4 February 2016
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved in the ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ conference in London today. As heads of state, and representatives of NGOs, the private sector and civil society gather to consider ways of further supporting the vulnerable and displaced within Syria, and all affected by the refugee crisis, we pray for an effective discussion and fruitful outcome for those so desperately in need of the cooperation, collaboration and support of our world community.
We give thanks for the immense generosity of both the British public and Her Majesty’s Government, evident in the ongoing support provided to those throughout this war-torn region. It is however undeniable that much more needs to be done by state and non-state actors, as well as individuals. This must simultaneously address both the macro and micro levels of conflict-resolution for the area, and provision for individuals affected by this ongoing conflict.
Although this conference omits religious institutions due to the fact that it focuses purely on matters of funding and social services, it must be acknowledged that some of these, including many Christian and Church, organisations are currently contributing substantially to ongoing social and relief work in the region. With this in mind, it is hoped that decisions will reflect that if 'hearts and minds' in the Middle East are to be challenged and changed, those and similar religious institutions must be included in both discussion and strategy. The fact remains that these legitimate and trusted networks have the greatest reach in their communities and have significant impact, as there is little if any separation in the region between government, civil society and religion. Similarly, existing pastoral and social Church networks on the ground are well placed to assist the most vulnerable in the region, and those without equal access to international support and schemes.
We pray that all those involved in this and similar initiatives “receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgement and equity” (Proverbs 1:2-4) as they become vehicles and instigators of a restoration of peace, safety and human dignity for so many so in need.