5 May 2017
Saeed Elyas Seno stands with his wife, Ekhlas Jomaa, and their four children by their temporary home in Kurdistan. Displaced Iraqis such as Senos — driven from their homes by ISIS — are struggling to remain hopeful. Read some of their stories and why they believe ‘God Wants Me Here’ in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Paul Jeffrey)
5 May 2017
Russian President Putin’s special envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari attend a signing of a memorandum to establish de-escalation zones in Syria during peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan on 4 May 2017.
(photo: Aliia Raimbekova/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Russia reaches deal for Syria safe zones (The New York Times) Russia, Iran and Turkey signed a memorandum on Thursday to create four “de-escalation zones” in Syria, to reduce bloodshed in a war now in its seventh year, but many questions remained about the plan...
Pope Francis to meet Donald Trump at Vatican later this month (CNS) President Donald Trump will visit the Vatican and meet with Pope Francis 24 May as part of his first foreign trip as president. White House officials said the visit will be part of a trip that will include stops in Israel and Saudi Arabia before Trump attends a NATO meeting in Brussels 25 May and the G7 summit in Taormina on the island of Sicily 26-27 May...
Mass evictions burying refugees in Lebanon in debt (Voice of America) Driven from their homes in Syria, thousands of refugees in Lebanon are once again in search of shelter. An estimated 8,000 to 12,000 refugees are on the move amid what is likely to be the biggest mass eviction of its kind in Lebanon since the war began...
Iraq, U.S. In talks to keep troops in Iraq after ISIS (AP) Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in talks with the Trump administration to keep American troops in Iraq after the fight against the Islamic State group in the country is concluded, according to a U.S. official and an official from the Iraqi government...
Ukraine increasingly feels the east is lost to Russia (AP) Long unthinkable after years of fighting and about 10,000 deaths, Ukrainians increasingly are coming around to the idea of at least temporarily abandoning the region known as the Donbass, considering it to be de facto occupied by Russia...
Ethiopian mosque site offers example of religious tolerance (The Daily Sabah) The Ethiopian religious site of Teru Sina, which features unique architectural characteristics, provides a successful model of religious tolerance with its opportunities for religious learning and socializing. Religious pilgrimages to the shrine of Shaykh Awel reportedly take place twice a year, and it is not only Muslims who honor the Sufi saint, but Ethiopian Orthodox Christians as well...
4 May 2017
Indian Christians line up for a procession to celebrate the feast of St. Sebastian in Marayoor, in the state of Kerala. To learn about some of the efforts of the church to provide social support in Marayoor and other villages in the region, read Breaking the Cycle in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)
4 May 2017
Tags: India Indian Christians
Iraqi Yazidis gather to celebrate the Yazidi New Year — known as Chwarshaba Sor, or Red Wednesday — in Dohuk, Iraq, on 18 April 2017. (photo: Muhammet Bamerni/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Yazidi genocide evidence mounting against ISIS: legal experts (Daily Star Lebanon) Legal experts said on Thursday there was growing evidence to prove atrocities by ISIS against Iraq’s Yazidi minority, including sexual slavery and mass killings, legally constitute genocide, which could help bring militants to justice if they ever go on trial…
Five years, billions of dollars needed to rebuild Mosul (AINA) Mosul’s wrecked roads, bridges and broader economy will take at least five years to repair and need billions of dollars of development that Iraq’s government will struggle to afford, officials returning to the battle-scarred city said…
Chaldean patriarch: In Egypt the pope has opened many doors (Fides) “With the speeches and gestures of his trip to Egypt, Pope Francis has opened many doors: with Islam, with political authorities, among Christians. We hope that now Muslims also take the opportunity, and take advantage of this support offered to them by the church,” said Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I, who was also present in at the pope’s visit to Cairo. “I stayed in Egypt even the following days” he said, “and I was able to register the great impression left by the visit of the pope…”
Indian bishops focus on migrants as trafficked victims on May Day (Vatican Radio) India’s Catholic bishops have issued a message for 1 May, drawing attention especially to migrants who end up as victims of human trafficking. Migration and human trafficking “are interlinked since unorganized workers and uninformed people leave their home for work or are brought to work,” said Bishop Oswald Lewis of Jaipur, chairman of the Labor Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. “May Day,” he noted, “reminds us of the events and endeavors that have contributed to worker solidarity, the dignity of work and prosperity, unity and harmony among workers achieved through sweat and toil…”
Pope’s prayer intention for May: Christians in Africa (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for May is dedicated to Christians in Africa: That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace…
Europe: 24,600 refugee children ‘in limbo’ at risk of mental distress, UNICEF warns (U.N. News Center) Nearly 75,000 refugees and migrants, including an estimated 24,600 children, currently stranded in Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary and the Western Balkans are at risk of psychosocial distress caused by living in a protracted state of limbo, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned today…
3 May 2017
Tags: India Iraq Refugees Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Yazidi
(photo: John E. Kozar)
An Ethiopian Orthodox priest visits the Cathedral of the Holy Savior in Adigrat, to join CNEWA’s Msgr. John Kozar and members of the local Catholic clergy for breakfast. Earlier today, we linked an article discussing Pope Francis’ efforts to promote ecumenism with the Oriental Orthodox churches, a body that includes the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Acts of Christian unity, whether as grand and elaborate as a summit of church heads or as simple as a breakfast, all serve to help fulfill Christ’s prayer “that all may be one.”
3 May 2017
Tags: Ethiopia Ecumenism Ethiopian Orthodox Church Ethiopian Christianity Ethiopian Catholic Church
Displaced Iraqis fleeing the fighting arrive in Mosul’s Bab al Abyad neighborhood on 3 May 2017. (photo: Ahmad al Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)
Without school, children of Mosul feared lost to poverty and conflict (AINA) Tens of thousands of children have been orphaned or left homeless by the war with ISIS, and forced to work to support their families in Mosul, the militant’s last major city stronghold in Iraq. Returning these children to school is a priority for Iraq to end the cycle of sectarian violence fueled in part by poverty and ignorance, the United Nations says…
Christian forum urges government to protect places of worship (Fides) A network of organizations, congregations and NGOs have submitted to the United Nations a report arguing that India’s government must work with greater urgency to protect life, personal security and places of religious worship of Christians. This report is a joint submission by Franciscans International, VIVAT International, Congregations of St. Joseph, Pax Romana, Sisters of Charity Federation, Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries and other partners. These groups are seeking to raise the awareness of the U.N. Human Rights Council in view of the periodic review for India scheduled to take place in May 2017…
Egypt is a beacon of hope and refuge, pope says at audience (CNS) Just as it had been for centuries, Egypt can be a sign of hope for those who long for peace, Pope Francis said. During his weekly general audience on 3 May, the pope reflected on his recent visit to Egypt and said that because of its religious and cultural heritage as well as its role in the Middle East, Egypt has the task of promoting a lasting peace that “rests not on the law of force but on the force of law…”
Pope Francis hopes to strengthen ties with Oriental Orthodox churches (Crux) One major aspect of Pope Francis’s trip to Egypt is the ecumenical encounter with the Coptic Orthodox Church, a member of the Oriental Orthodox communion, which broke with what are now the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches as early as the fifth century, when they rejected the definitions of the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Together, the six churches in the communion represent some 84 million faithful and are among the oldest Christian bodies in the world…
Holy See to U.N.: no to nuclear proliferation (Vatican Radio) The head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, taking place in Vienna from 2 to 12 May, Msgr. Janusz S. Urbanczyk, has released his prepared address to the body. Below, please find the full text of his prepared remarks in English...
Jaish Al Islam releases hundreds of Alawite prisoners in rural Damascus (Al Masdar) Following a rare deal between the Syrian Arab Army and Jaish Al Islam, hundreds of captive civilians and soldiers, mostly Alawites, were released in return for 51 aid convoys entering Douma in eastern Damascus…
Armenian separatists condemn Turkish-Azerbaijani army drills (Vatican Radio) Armenia backed separatists have condemned joined military exercises by Turkey and Azerbaijan. The drills, which last until Friday, come amid tensions between Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh…
2 May 2017
Tags: Syria India Iraq Ecumenism Azerbaijan
A man sells bananas in his small shop in a camp for internally displaced families in Ain Kawa, in northern Iraq. Residents of the camp, mostly Christians, were displaced from Mosul, Qaraqosh and other communities in Iraq when ISIS swept through the area in 2014. Read more about the displaced Christians of Iraq, and efforts to assist them, in a web exclusive story in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Paul Jeffrey)
2 May 2017
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Iraqi Refugees
Palestinians stage a protest against Israeli siege over Palestinian lands and power cuts in Gaza City on 2 May 2017. (photo: Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Catholic leaders urge Israel to meet Palestinian hunger strikers’ demands (CNS) Catholic leaders in the Holy Land urged Israel to concede to demands of Palestinian political prisoners on a hunger strike since 17 April. The prisoners are seeking an improvement in their prison conditions and an end to administrative detention, which allows Israel to hold prisoners almost indefinitely without having to charge them with a crime. The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land said the prisoners are asking that their human rights and dignity be respected according to international law and the Geneva Convention…
Problems faced by Egypt’s Coptic Christians run far deeper than ISIS attacks (The Independent) As a minority (maybe 10 percent of Egyptians), Christians naturally need the regime to protect them. Their fear — that the government deliberately failed to guard their churches (untrue) and the ignorant attacks on them by equally untrained, untaught Muslim preachers in upper Egypt (sadly true) — drew them closer and closer to Sisi. They became associated with the regime itself…
Kurdish-Arab alliance advances against ISIS near Raqqa (AINA) U.S.-backed fighters have captured 80 percent of Syria’s Tabqa from ISIS, a monitor said on Monday, a week after they first entered the town. The Syrian Democratic Forces broke into Tabqa from the south last week and have steadily advanced north, cornering ISIS in three contiguous neighborhoods on the bank of the Euphrates River. The strategic town of Tabqa sits on a supply route about 35 miles west of Raqqa city, the de facto capital of ISIS territory in Syria…
Two million children forced to work in Turkey, including refugees (AsiaNews) About two million children work in Turkey, 78 percent of them without proper papers or health coverage. Officially, workplace accidents claimed the life of 56 of them in the past year, this according to a study released today by the DISK Genel-Is trade union confederation…
Iraq’s challenging path to reconciliation (Der Spiegel) Just outside recently liberated Mosul, two judges have been tasked with punishing Islamic State followers who committed crimes and helping victims find justice. But without any way to gather evidence, the process often verges on farce — and could lead to a new cycle of violence…
Middle East peace effort lacks progress on political front (U.N. News Center) The lack of progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is impeding Palestine’s development, according to a new United Nations report, which also reiterates the international community’s commitment to a two-state solution in the region…
1 May 2017
Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Palestine Turkey
In the video above, you can learn more about the remarkable fundraiser arranged by students in Westchester, New York last weekend — a benefit concert which netted more than $15,000, with all proceeds going to support CNEWA’s work among the people of Syria. (video: CNEWA)
It sounded like a nice idea that might raise a little money and get some attention.
It got a lot more than that.
Last Friday, a remarkable fundraiser by a group of New York teenagers known as Relief United drew a crowd of some 300 people to a park in Westchester, New York — and, at last count, raised more than $15,000 to support CNEWA’s work with the people of Syria.
This was beyond anything we expected. As I told someone Friday night: “This is incredible.” You can see a video report of the event above.
Local media turned out to cover the concert and talk with the kids behind it.
Really making a difference in the world is an ambitious idea seven teens from Westchester are truly committed to.
“Even the smallest person can make a change,” a teen said.
Motivated by the disturbing images and headlines coming from Syria, the longtime friends organized a picnic and benefit concert at Kingsland Point Park Friday to raise money for Syrian refugee families, hospitals, and schools.
“We look at it on TV and we talk about it, but what are we doing?” said Michal Kozlowski, a student. “So I got together with a bunch of my friends and this started with a little dance in a little church and it’s just expanded.”
“I don’t like to think of it as us helping Syrians, because that makes them seem so distant and far away from us,” said Gibran Mourani, a student. “I like to think of it as teenagers helping teenagers, families helping families.”
Some of the teenagers who supported the event pose for a snapshot with CNEWA development associate Phillip Eubanks and multimedia editor Greg Kandra, who are kneeling in the front.
(photo: Chris Kennedy)
As we first reported last month, the benefit began a long way from Westchester:
“It started at World Youth Day in Krakow,” says Michal Kozlowski, a junior at Regis High School in New York City. “One of my friends I met there is from Syria and he started telling me about his brother, who lives under ISIS. He was speaking from the heart about what he had to do just to survive. Then Pope Francis spoke to us and said, ‘The leaders of today dream in their comfy couches but they don’t get out of that couch and make that dream a reality.’ The crowd roared and I thought: ‘I’ve got to do something.”
That planted the seed, which eventually grew into Friday’s event:
“Hopefully,” Michal says, “this can have an impact similar to what I had at World Youth Day. We want to organize energetic youth under a common, good goal to do something good.”
“This is something we feel passionate about,” adds Nick Sinopoli, another junior from Regis working with Michal on the project. “It’s something we can do to make a real difference in the world.”
In addition to music and food, the fundraiser offered opportunities to write notes to Syrian refugees, provided information about CNEWA and our work in the region, and even gave kids a chance to have their names tattooed on their arms (with a Sharpie) in Arabic.
Teenagers who attended had a chance to have their names written on their arm in Arabic.
(photo: Chris Kennedy)
It was something all of us who were there will remember for a long time. And we remain both humbled and grateful to the hardworking kids (and their parents and teachers!) who made this event possible — and all those who took part, who will be making such a difference in the lives of so many in Syria.
Our thanks go out to Michal Kozlowski, Lilly McHale, Nick Sinopoli, Michael Gauguin, Gibran Mourani, Jane Singman and Joe Gullotta, and to their supportive parents.
Michal Kozlowski, joined by some of the teenagers who helped organize the Relief United benefit concert, speaks to the hundreds of friends and supporters who attended the event in Westchester on 29 April. (photo: Greg Kandra)
1 May 2017
Tags: CNEWA Middle East Christians
Pope Francis’s visit last weekend to Egypt — where he was joined by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew of Constantinople — brought together for the first time the heads of the churches of Rome and Constantinople with the leaders of the church founded in Egypt by St. Mark the Evangelist: Theodoros II, Orthodox pope and patriarch of Alexandria; Tawadros II, Coptic Orthodox pope and patriarch of Alexandria; and Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Tags: Egypt Ecumenism Africa Eastern Christianity Egypt's Christians