Wednesday 23 October 2013
Open Debate on the Middle East - 22 October 2013
 Intervention of Archbishop Francis ChullikattApostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UNin the Security CouncilOpen Debate on the Middle East (New York, 22 October 2013)
 Intervention of Archbishop Francis Chullikatt Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN in the Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East  (New York, 22 October 2013)   Mr. President,   My Delegation wishes to congratulate you for Azerbaijan’s Presidency of the Security Council this month and for convening this timely open debate on the Middle East.  Mr. President, On repeated occasions, the Holy See has clearly voiced urgent concern for the peace and welfare of all the peoples of the Middle East. On this occasion, once more, my Delegation joins its voice to that of all people of good will who stand ready to welcome, with great hope, the re-engagement of Israelis and Palestinians in direct, serious and concrete negotiations. Our hopes are renewed that we are witnessing at present a newly rejuvenated peace process. This is a critical time for the region and there are many issues to be considered. A solution for each, and for all, of the peoples of the Middle East must be characterized first and foremost by respecting the centrality and dignity of the human person, regardless of race or creed, by a concern for every human life and for human dignity and by the tireless pursuit of the common good for the whole of society, keeping in mind also the regional and international context. The recognition and respect of the inalienable dignity of every human being is the roadmap to the unity and stability of every nation.Mr. President, Peace building between the people of Israel and the people of Palestine constitutes a lingering remnant of the twentieth century, which proved to be the bloodiest of centuries. Each side in this drama suffered grave humanitarian crises, whether in declared wars, extremist violence or the military responses thereto. In many of the engagements, sadly, it has been the civilian population that has fallen victim to declared and undeclared violence. The impact of these humanitarian sufferings imposed on both parties in the wake of this ongoing conflict, requires that every year the international community donates more funds to sustain refugee populations. The global economic picture, however, warns us that this cannot be indefinitely sustained. A political solution is also the best solution to these economic pressures because peace between the parties generates stable economies and attracts, in turn, development funds.  Mr. President, My Delegation wishes to note that other political issues, still unresolved, have introduced yet further instabilities into the region. Accordingly, we join our voice to those expressing grave concern regarding the situation in Syria and encourage everyone involved to continue striving forward in a sincere quest for justice and peace. As an imperative first step, the Holy See earnestly and urgently calls upon all parties to put an immediate end to violence and to begin a real process of dialogue with the Geneva 2 conference planned for next month.  One of the consequences of the current violence in Syria is the flight of non-combatants from their homes. Added to the plight of over four million internally displaced within the borders of Syria itself, more than two million refugees, three-quarters of them women and children, have already sought refuge in neighboring countries and are now seeking peace, security and safety also in countries outside the Middle East. The challenges faced especially by neighboring countries in assisting and protecting these refugees could have “a destabilizing impact on the entire region”[1]. The situation is extremely grave and is worsening by the day; many people are dying of hunger, and many others on account of lack of access to basic and necessary medical care. The Catholic Church remains committed and active at the forefront in providing humanitarian assistance to people, regardless of their religious or ethnic affiliation, with all the means at our disposal.  On 1 September 2013 Pope Francis called for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for World Peace and particularly for peace in Syria for the following Saturday. Speaking of the horrific complexities of the situation in Syria, the Pope stressed: “Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence”.[2] He also made a heartfelt plea “that the violence and devastation in Syria may cease immediately and that a renewed effort be undertaken to achieve a just solution to this fratricidal conflict.”[3]  Mr. President,  The Middle East has been, from the beginning, the cradle of the ancestral faith of Christians, and Christians have lived peaceably in these countries for centuries, indeed millennia. As citizens of their respective countries in the Middle East, they desire to continue to be part of the social, political, cultural and religious landscape of the region and to contribute to the common good of societies to which they fully belong, working for peace and reconciliation, guided by those values that can help society progress towards greater respect for justice, human rights and fundamental freedoms. For this reason, my Delegation wishes to present to this Chamber the worrying exodus of Christians from the region of their birth. Extremist and reactionary forces introduced into the region as a result of political instabilities and conflicts are targeting Christians and other groups who suffer the consequences of their blind violence. Christians see themselves forced to flee for sake of life and limb, leaving behind a two thousand year tradition bound up in the culture of the region. It is an unacceptable repeat of what happened in Iraq when sectarian violence reduced the Christian population by 70%.  For those of us here at the United Nations, these challenges of the Middle East are a clarion call to the task of peacemaking which is the very reason for the existence of this institution, the United Nations. Mustering the needed political will, the international community can make a difference in the life of the peoples of the Middle East and help them fulfill the dream of the long-awaited peace in the Middle East.  Thank you, Mr. President. [1]S/PRST/2013/15 [2] Words during the Angelus Prayer of Pope Francis, St. Peter’s Square, Sunday, 1 September 2013 [3]Words after the Angelus Prayer of Pope Francis, Saint Peter's Square, Sunday, 8 September 2013