World Council of Churches and UN rights office outraged at bombing of Syrian refugee camps

(Photo: REUTERS / Hosam Katan)A general view of the Bab Al-Salam refugee camp in Azaz, near the Syrian-Turkish border, October 27, 2014.

GENEVA - World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed outrage at an air strike on a Syrian refugee camp urging the international community to put an end to the "culture of impunity" in the beleaguered country.

The May 6 statement from the WCC leader came after reports from Syria of an air strike that targeted the Kammouneh Syrian refugee camp, killing at least 28 people and severely injuring dozens of others.

"This outrage can in no way be considered as a military operation targeting armed groups, but clearly amounts to a war crime," said the WCC leader.

Earlier U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein also lashed out at the bombing of the refugee camps in a statement from Geneva saying they probably amount to "war crimes.".

"I unreservedly condemn yesterday's bombing of two camps for displaced people in Sarmada, close to the border with Turkey in north-western Syria.

"Given these tent settlements have been in these locations for several weeks, and can be clearly viewed from the air, it is extremely unlikely that these murderous attacks were an accident. It is far more likely they were deliberate and amount to a war crime."

He said that according to early reports by first responders, some 30 civilians, including children, were killed in the attack, and dozens of other civilians were injured, and many tents were completely destroyed.


Zeid said, "This atrocity follows a tragic escalation of violence in Aleppo, where six hospitals have reportedly been deliberately shelled, leaving hundreds of people killed and wounded - among them babies, children, doctors and medical personnel."

Mamun al-Khatib, director of the Aleppo-based pro-rebel Shahba Press news agency, accused Syrian "regime aircraft" of firing missiles at the camp in Al-Kammouna village, an accusation denied by Damascus, Agence France-Presse reported.

"There is no truth in the information in some media that the Syrian air force targeted the displaced camp in Idlib province" on Thursday, the official SANA news agency quoted the military as saying.

The WCC stressed its "long-held belief" that all governments have an obligation to protect the lives and dignity of their citizens, and to protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

"This escalation of extreme violence is ethically unconscionable and condemnable especially when so many innocent and vulnerable people are targeted in this way," reads the statement.

"The World Council of Churches, together with the churches in our fellowship, prays that our Lord receives all the victims in Syria in His mercy, and keeps their families and beloved ones in His Love, granting them courage and patience in their grieving. "

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