Aleppo, Syria, Sep 26, 2016 / 04:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Christian and Muslim children of Aleppo, Syria will gather together in prayer on October 6 to plead for an end to the violence and devastation in their city and country. Archbishop Boutros Marayati, the head of the Armenian Catholic archieparchy in Aleppo, told a mission society news agency that the initiative will involve mostly primary school-aged children, who will add their signatures and fingerprints to an appeal to all world leaders, asking them to help stop the violence.
"But above all, they will pray. They will pray for all of their peers,” the Archbishop told Agenzia Fides, the information service for the Pontifical Mission Societies. “And we trust in the fact that children's prayer is more powerful than ours," he added.
Last month, the bloodied, dusty face of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, sitting shell-shocked in the back of an ambulance after his house had been bombed, brought new attention to the plight of Syrian children caught in the crossfires of the ongoing war. Since then, many more photos and videos of children caught or killed in the rubble have emerged, sparking increased humanitarian pleas on their behalf.
The already dire situation in Syria has only worsened in recent days and weeks as an attempted ceasefire collapsed and other diplomacies failed. Since Friday morning, hundreds of airstrikes have battered neighborhoods in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, killing an estimated 100 people and leaving at least 50 more, including children, trapped under the rubble. The recent use of so-called bunker-busting bombs, which weigh about a ton and can blast through two meters of underground, reinforced concrete have only added to the horror and destruction in the past few days.
A humanitarian truce, called for by the United Nations and brokered this month by the United States and Russia, fell apart less than a week after its institution after U.S. forces struck a Syrian position killing dozens of soldiers, though the move was reportedly unintentional. The Syrian civil war, which began in March 2011, has claimed the lives of between and estimated 280,000 and 470,000 people, and forced 4.8 million to become refugees, about half of them children. Another 8 million Syrians are believed to have been internally displaced by the violence.
The civil war is being fought between the Syrian government’s regime and a number of rebel groups. The rebels include moderates, such as the Free Syrian Army; Islamists such as the Army of Conquest and the Islamic State; and Kurdish separatists. Catholic leaders in the city, including Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo, have made continual appeals to the international faith community for prayers and humanitarian aid.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that the continued fighting and horror in Aleppo shows the failure of the international community. "The Syrian tragedy shames us all," he said. "The collective failure of the international community should haunt every member of this Council."