Egypt s Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb. Photo courtesy of Al-Azhar Facebook page.
“My generation and I have witnessed the cruelty and bitterness of wars and conflicts. We also witnessed their ruinous effects through economic collapse; wasted resources; and the spread of poverty, illiteracy, disease, and hate,” said the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the world’s leading Sunni Muslim institution.
Reaching day 17 of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the war has so far forced more than 2.5 million people to flee Ukraine, while others seek refuge in basements, subway stations, and underground shelters, according to the UNHCR.
Thousands of soldiers on both sides are believed to have been killed along with many civilians since the start of the invasion, including at least 79 Ukrainian children.
“Unite your efforts towards saving the vulnerable and displaced, for history will remember your ability to achieve stability, justice, and peace for your people and humanity,” El-Tayyeb concluded.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis condemned the “barbarity” of killing children and civilians while speaking to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday blessing.
“In the name of God... stop this massacre,” the pope said.
This comes after a series of attacks that targeted various civilian areas, including religious buildings.
Earlier last week, the grand imam called on Russia and Ukraine to defer to the voice of reason as well as on world leaders and international institutions to support peaceful solutions between the two neighbours.
“Wars will only bring more death, destruction, and hatred to our world. Conflicts can only be settled through dialogue,” he said last week.