Cambodian villagers displaced by border fighting (Photo courtesy of Caritas Cambodia)
The Catholic Church in Cambodia says it deeply regrets the “needless loss of human life” during border clashes with Thailand last week and appealed for a peaceful resolution to the dispute.
The fighting has also caused “serious injuries, the destruction of sacred places and irreparable damage to a world heritage site,” a February 14 statement said.
“The Catholic Church of Cambodia calls on all communities, national and international organizations to urgently cooperate at all levels to help stop conflict around the Preah Vihear Temple,” said the statement signed by Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh.
“We pray to almighty God that the Good Lord will bless the two sides with peace and guide the leaders of both countries to resolve this conflict by peaceful means and to avoid further shedding of blood,” it continued.
Long Sophal, a Church worker with the Jesuit Service in Cambodia, said he hopes Thailand and Cambodia heed Bishop Schmitthaeusler’s words.
“We are always against war because everyone suffers, so we must support a call for peaceful solutions,” he said.
Other organizations also voiced their support for the Church’s appeal.
Duong Savong, director of the Catholic Catechesis Center, said the statement, “Made us reflect that the fighting not only brought suffering to Cambodians, but to all from both sides.”
The February 4-7 border clashes reportedly killed at least eight people - three in Thailand and five in Cambodia - and injured many more, as well as displacing thousands.
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