|Faith groups concerned about civilians trapped in Homs, Syria|
|Written by John Zarocostas|
|Friday, 22 June 2012 15:21|
Geneva (ENInews) UN envoys, faith leaders and humanitarian groups, intensified international efforts on June 20 to secure safe passage for about 800 Syrian civilians, half of them Sunni Muslims and half Christians, trapped in Homs, Syria, by fighting between government and opposition forces.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent "are attempting to evacuate and otherwise assist people stranded ... by the ongoing fighting" between rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
The ICRC said it "made a request on 19 June for a temporary pause in the fighting to the Syrian authorities and to different opposition groups. The authorities officially agreed to our request, and the opposition groups gave assurances that they would respect the pause."
"The situation is extremely worrisome," said Ahmad Fawzi, spokesman for Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League Joint Special Envoy on Syria. "We are still monitoring and appealing to both sides to make it happen," he said.
Meanwhile, Agenzia Fides, the Vatican news agency, quoted an Orthodox priest, Boutros Al Zein, saying that the 400 Christians are "mostly elderly and women ... becoming human shields to prevent the attack of regular Syrian forces."
The Fides dispatch also reported that two Orthodox Christian priests had failed in efforts to negotiate the release of the hostages.