An Anglican colleague of one of our friends, Rev. Andrew Ashdown, recently returned from a visit to Syria. Rev. Ashdown led the first British Christian delegation to Syria since the start of the conflict in 2011 and which saw numerous meetings with local political and religious leaders and Christian communities.
He has written a fascinating account of the visit.
REFLECTIONS ON A VISIT TO SYRIA – Part 1
31 August – 7 September 2016
Why Did We Come to Syria
1. We came to listen, to learn, to meet as many people as possible in order to contribute our experiences to the wider discussions of the situation in Syria.
2. We emphasise our commitment to the fundamental principle of impartiality and solidarity with all those who are suffering, whatever their faith and cultural traditions or political views.
3. A pastoral visit to the suffering people of Syria – including Christians, Muslims and Yazidis; to see for ourselves the realities on the ground; to listen to as wide a range of voices as possible who are not being heard outside Syria; to hear from religious leaders, communities and political leaders as well as Internally Displaced People (IDPs).
4. To visit different religious communities in different Syrian locations; to listen to the voices of their members and leader; to experience their places of worship and view any destruction of churches and mosques and loss of ritual treasures.
5. To learn about efforts being made within Syria to bring about a peaceful resolution.
6. To reflect on our response and that of the UK and other members of the international community.
7. To explore academic relationships relating to possible cultural and academic collaboration.
8. We emphasise our fundamental commitment to as much impartiality as possible. For this reason, the visit was at our own expense.
We were invited by the Grand Mufti of Syria, Dr. Hassoun, Bishop Armash Nalbandian, Armenian Archbishop of Damascus; Bishop Audo of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Aleppo; and Revd. Harout Selimien, President of the Armenian Evangelical Church in Syria.
Revd. Andrew Ashdown (Leader of the Group)
Revd. Dr.David Clark
Baroness Caroline Cox
Dr. Simon Fisher
Lord Raymond Hylton
Rt Revd. Michael Nazir-Ali
Ms Jo Simister