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Vatican envoy: international action needed in Iraq

September 02, 2014

The Vatican’s representative at UN headquarters in Geneva has renewed an appeal for international action to stop the bloodshed in northern Iraq.

Speaking to a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi called for “concrete steps” to “stop the unjust aggressor.” He condemned the “brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized behavior of the criminal groups” fighting in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

Citing an earlier plea by Pope Francis, the archbishop said that international action is required when national governments are unable to maintain order and stop violence. That is clearly the situation today in Iraq, he said.

Archbishop Tomasi said that the Church would not specify the steps to be taken to protect the innocent. Those decisions, he said, should be made by the appropriate civil leaders. The role of the Church, he explained, is to act as “the conscience that says: ‘Look, there is an emergency situation and all of us have to take our own responsibility according to our own role in society.’”

The archbishop said that intervention should take place “within the framework of international law and humanitarian law.” A top priority should be to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the refugees who have fled the violence, he said.

Beyond that, the Vatican representative continued, world leaders should block the flow of support to terrorists, and pursue those responsible for the gross violations of human rights. “They must not be allowed to act with impunity,” he said.


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