Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

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Third Thursday: Tell your elected officials to support peaceful solutions with Iran, in Syria

Organizations in the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy send out action alerts monthly, focusing on different issues so that members of Congress hear consistently that their constituents support a just and lasting resolution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.

Tell your elected officials to support peaceful solutions with Iran, in Syria: Don’t stand in the way of Iran negotiations, and do support urgent help for Yarmouk refugees

The first week of April brought great cause for celebration among all who support diplomacy as a path to a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue. On April 2 a framework agreement was announced between Iran, the United States, and the other five countries – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – that have been working diligently to secure an arrangement that would block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon and pave the way for the lifting of sanctions on Iran. This historic milestone is to be followed by continued talks intended to culminate in a final, comprehensive deal by June 30.

This will be a stronger agreement to the extent that it enjoys the full support of our government -- the Congress and the administration. Urge your members of Congress to speak out in favor of the framework agreement and of ongoing talks to produce a final deal. Ask them to refrain from sponsoring or voting for legislation that could jeopardize the talks by threatening new sanctions or otherwise tying the hands of the administration in the negotiations.

While Iran has taken center stage in congressional foreign policy debate, the Israeli-Palestinian situation has languished to the detriment of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Advocates must continue to press for constructive engagement aimed at ending the Israeli occupation and securing a just peace for both peoples. At the same time, the real need for a livable situation on the ground must be addressed regardless of progress on a political solution.

The tragic plight of the refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria is a reminder of the importance of lasting peace not only for the Palestinians but for all the people of the region. Palestinians in the Yarmouk camp are part of the roughly five million Palestine refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) who live in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. In the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian resolution, they remain stateless and unable to return to their original homes.

The situation in the Yarmouk camp is dire, as self-styled Islamic State militants battle Syrian government forces, and civilians are trapped in the middle. Describing Yarmouk, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reportedly said, “A refugee camp is beginning to resemble a death camp,” and he called for an end to the fighting, humanitarian access and safe passage for those wanting to leave.

UNRWA describes the horrific circumstances inside the camp: Since 1 April, this residential area of Damascus where some 18,000 people have already been trapped for over two years has been engulfed by intense fighting. The lives of civilians in Yarmouk have never been more profoundly threatened. Men, women and children - Syrians and Palestinians alike - are cowering in their battered homes in profound fear, desperate for security, food and water, deeply concerned by the grave perils that may yet come, as hostilities continue. It is virtually impossible for civilians to leave Yarmouk as any attempt to move in the open brings high risk.

Ask your elected officials to urgently support the UN secretary-general’s call. Ask them to do all they can to demand an end to the fighting, humanitarian access, and safe passage for those trapped in the Yarmouk camp.

Use this link to send a message to your senators and your representative.

For more information:

A framework to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon

Listen to NPR: Analysis of the Iran nuclear agreement and prospects for a final deal

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on the situation in Yarmouk Refugee Camp

UN Chief: Yarmouk Palestinian refugee in Syria is "beginning to resemble a death camp"

UNRWA urgently calls for safety and protection of civilians in Yarmouk

 

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