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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
17 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




An Israeli soldier adjusts the barrel of a tank at a military staging area outside the northern Gaza Strip on 14 July. (photo: CNS/Nir Elias, Reuters)

Israelis consider ground invasion of Gaza; brief truce planned (Los Angeles Times) Iraeli military and political leaders were increasingly leaning toward a ground invasion of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to rid the Palestinian enclave of rockets and tunnels used by militants for attacks, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said Wednesday. An operation to move Israeli troops into the densely populated coastal enclave had been resisted by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sources said earlier, because of the likelihood of wider casualties on both sides. The deaths of at least 222 Palestinians, most of them civilians, in the latest fighting has exposed the Israeli government to widespread criticism that escalated Wednesday with the deaths of four children playing on a Gaza beach when an artillery shell landed. One Israeli has been killed…

Jordanians angered by Israel’s war on Gaza (Al Monitor) Jordanians have raised their voice against the Israeli offensive on Gaza that has so far killed over 200 Palestinians and one Israeli, with protesters taking to the streets, members of parliament planning to head to the Gaza Strip and King Abdullah II warning of “the dangerous escalation” of violence in the area…

In Mosul, ISIL orders no aid to Christians and Shiites (Fides) The jihadist militiamen of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have ordered civil servants to suspend any provision of food aid and gas cylinders to the Shiites, Kurds and the few remaining Christians in Iraq’s second city. This is confirmed to Fides Agency by Christian sources in Mosul…

U.N. refugee chief calls for political solution in Iraq (Washington Post) The head of the United Nations refugee agency said Wednesday that he was increasingly frustrated with Iraq’s skyrocketing number of displaced people — and with governments worldwide that expect humanitarian aid organizations to resolve these matters alone. “There will not be a humanitarian solution for the Iraqi crisis. There is no humanitarian solution for the Syrian crisis,” António Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said in a closed briefing with reporters here in the Iraqi capital. “It is absolutely crucial that the Iraqi political system find a way to overcome its political divisions and contradictions,” he said…



Tags: Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank Jordan Holy Land Israeli-Palestinian conflict

16 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Palestinians inspect a destroyed car following an airstrike in Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on 10 July. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)

Level of human loss, destruction in Gaza ‘immense,’ says U.N. agency (U.N. News Center) The level of human loss and destruction in Gaza as a result of the ongoing conflict with Israel has been “immense,” the United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees said today. “The numbers are increasing by the hour,” Sami Mshasha, from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), told a news conference in Geneva…

100,000 Gazans told to flee as both sides press attacks (New York Times) Israeli forces intensified their assaults on targets in Gaza on Wednesday, bombing the residences of several Hamas leaders and warning 100,000 Gazans to flee their homes ahead of more attacks. The Gaza death toll from nine days of conflict vaulted past 200, including at least four children killed on a beach from what Palestinian officials called an Israeli gunboat shell…

Israeli airstrikes damage Egyptian homes (Al Monitor) Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip is rattling Egyptians on the Egyptian side of the Gaza border. Eyewitnesses on the Egyptian side said houses along the border that is adjacent to the Gaza Strip have been directly affected by the intense Israeli bombardment. According to the residents of the Egyptian part of Rafah, Israeli fighter jets have been targeting tunnel entrances with highly explosive concussion bombs to destroy the main outlets on the Palestinian side. Abu Mohammed al Shaer, who resides in a two-story building on the border, about 1000 feet from the bombing sites, told Al Monitor: “No one can imagine how harsh the bombardment is. … The glass windows have all been shattered, and the [walls of the] houses have cracked…”

Pope Tawadros II: Bishops do not express support for candidates (Fides) The date of the next general elections in Egypt has not yet been set. In all probability, the Egyptians will not go to the polls before next October, but already meetings and to define candidates have started. In this context, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II has already warned the bishops of the Coptic Orthodox Church to refrain from any direct involvement in the election campaign in support of political parties or individual candidates…

Chaldean patriarch to politicians: Waste no more time, Iraqis are in danger (Vatican Radio) Patriarch Louis Raphael I has sent a Letter to the Members of Iraqi Parliament urging them to “waste no more time” in resolving the crisis that is devastating the nation. Adding his “humble voice as Christian religious authority in Iraq” to the voice of all the Muslim authorities, the patriarch begs them “to accelerate the elections of the three presidencies to save the country…”

Iraq Christians see ISIL uprooting Prophet Jonah’s remains as dire portent (Ecumenical News) Members of Jihadist group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are believed to have unearthed the remains of revered biblical Prophet Jonah in Mosul. This act is fueling the fears of Christian leaders in Iraq that the persisting violence could spell the end of 2000 years of Christianity in the country…

Ancient cave monastery complex in Georgia to be preserved (Serbian Orthodox Church) Vardzia, a cave monastery complex of the 12th-13th centuries in the valley of the Kura river, is an outstanding monument of medieval Georgian architecture. A three-day international seminar, dedicated to the development of plans for preserving the Vardzia cave monastery complex in the Samche-Javaheti region, began on 9 July. The seminar was organized by the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia and the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia…



Tags: Iraq Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict United Nations

15 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza Strip, gather around the remains of a house that police said was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike. Israel said it shot down a drone from Gaza on 14 July, the first reported deployment of an unmanned aircraft by Palestinian militants whose rocket attacks have been regularly intercepted. (photo: CNS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Israeli strikes on Gaza enter day seven (Various) Israel launched a military offensive on Hamas-controlled Gaza last week, alleging a response to an increase of rocket attacks from the territory. At least 172 Palestinians have died and more than 800 homes have been damaged or destroyed since fighting began last Tuesday, with more than 1,300 Israeli rockets striking the region. Palestinian militants have in turn fired some 1,000 rockets into Israel causing some injuries and property damage, but no fatalities have been reported among Israelis. Egypt proposed a cease-fire deal that Israel backed, but whereas Hamas found the proposal met none of its conditions, the effort ultimately failed. As the conflict continues to escalate, both on physical and ideological fronts, many around the world appeal for peace — including Pope Francis, the office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Israeli and Palestinian mothers, and the United Nations.

Iraq: Nuns, orphans released by kidnappers (Vatican Radio) Two nuns and three orphans under their care have been released in Iraq by kidnappers linked to ISIS, the Al Qaeda-inspired Sunni militant group also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Speaking to AsiaNews, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I expressed relief that there was “finally good news” in the country where ISIS, under the banner of a new Islamic “caliphate,” has captured large swaths of territory from the Shiite-led government in Baghdad…

Christian, Muslim groups urge Lebanon neutrality (Daily Star Lebanon) Moderate and independent Lebanese Christian and Muslim figures Tuesday called for a Lebanon free from Hezbollah or the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. A statement issued Tuesday by the moderate groups the Lady of the Mountains and the Shiite Consultative Gathering as well as other independent Lebanese figures slammed ISIS and Wilayat al Faqih, an indirect reference to Hezbollah, as “spiritual sisters.” Under the Wilayat al Faqih doctrine, which was introduced in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the supreme ayatollah, or highest religious authority, has final say in political matters as well…

Ukrainian army shells convent in Lugansk (Pravoslavie) Before sunrise on 4 July 2014, the Ukrainian army, coming very close to Lugansk, fired artillery against the regional clinical oncological dispensary of Lugansk, where the St. Olga’s Convent is located, reports the convent’s website. The site message suggests the attack was “a response to the prayer resistance to the fratricidal war, organized by the clergy and sisters of the convent…”



Tags: Iraq Lebanon Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict

14 July 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis leads his 13 July Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Pope Francis called for an end to the flare-up of hostility between Palestinians and Israelis, urging leaders to listen to the call of the people who want peace. (photo: CNS/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Pope Francis appeals for peace in Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday asked for prayers for peace in the Holy Land. Speaking after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope described his appeal as “heartfelt” and said we must all continue to pray insistently for peace in the Holy Land in the light of the tragic events of the past days...

Israel says it downed drone as death toll climbs (ABC News) The military wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed today that it sent homemade drones over Israel, after Israel said that it had shot down a Palestinian drone flying along the coast in southern Israel. Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades boasted on Twitter that the drones carried out “three missions over Israeli military bases” and a “specific mission over Israeli war ministry.” The group claimed to have domestically built three different kinds of drones for surveillance and bombing missions...

Ukraine forces end blockade at airport (Reuters) Ukraine said on Monday its forces had ended a rebel blockade of a strategic airport in the east as it traded charges and threats with Russia over violations of their joint border during a weekend of fierce military combat. Ukraine’s military said its warplanes had inflicted heavy losses on the pro-Russian separatists during air strikes on their positions, including an armoured convoy which Kiev said had crossed the border from Russia...

Ukraine crisis damaging Catholic-Orthodox relations (AFP) The crisis in Ukraine is undermining reconciliation efforts between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church and has shown up Pope Francis’s inability to make his peace message heard in the conflict-torn country, analysts said. Francis has called for dialogue in Ukraine — as he does for conflicts around the world — but the Vatican has kept a distance and did not take a position on Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March or subsequent hostilities in the east of the country...

More Kerala nurses leaving India (Hindustan Times) The rains are weak this year in Kerala and everyone was talking about it. Then they started talking of something else — the rescue of the 45 nurses from Iraq, and the scandal of another batch that wants to go right back. The return from Iraq has lobbed certain questions at the Kerala nursing fraternity. It believes it has to answer them, both for self-clarification and to explain why things are the way they are. The questions are: Should they allow themselves to be ill-paid and stay safe? Or should they, before all else, go after the money?...



11 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Palestinian man examines the damage to his destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike north of Gaza City July 11. A Catholic priest in Gaza said Israeli missile attacks are wide-ranging and that there is no safe zone. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)

Neuhaus: Irresponsible Israeli-Palestinian rhetoric begets violence (Vatican Radio) The Latin patriarchal vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in the Holy Land, the Rev. David Neuhaus, S.J., has joined his colleagues of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land in calling for more moderate Israeli and Palestinian voices to ease tensions which have spiraled into a seemingly unending cycle of tit-for tat violence…

Rumor and leaks fill void as Israel silences press over killings (New York Times) Israeli intelligence officials used gag orders in recent weeks to stifle reporting on the initial investigations into both the abduction and the killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem. These restrictions on media coverage of events in the Palestinian territories come more than five years after Israel blocked journalists from reporting on the bombardment of Gaza known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead. The current war in that territory is taking place in full view of foreign correspondents there, as the Haaretz columnist Anshel Pfeffer pointed out…

Greece holding migrants in detention, conditions ‘appalling’ (Al Jazeera) When a visitor identifying himself as an employer came knocking, Azher Abbas opened the door of the flat he shared with two other undocumented Pakistani migrants. To his surprise, police officers rushed into his home. Mr. Abbas spent 15 months at one of Greece’s largest immigrant detention centers, around an hour drive south of Athens. An estimated 6,000 are held in such camps, and thousands more at police stations. “We were never treated as people,” said Abbas. One day, he and other inmates complained about the chickpea stew. “A bunch of policemen came and spat in the food and held batons over us and said ‘eat it now…’ ”

Displaced swell Syria coastal population (Daily Star Lebanon) The population of Syria’s coastal provinces, relatively untouched by the country’s war, has risen dramatically, sheltering one million displaced people, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday. “Over a million people have arrived in Latakia and Tartus since the beginning of the conflict, swelling the local population by 50 percent,” the I.C.R.C. said in a statement…

Economic cooperation between Egypt and Ethiopia on the rise (Al Monitor) Cairo is working on resuming the Ethiopian-Egyptian activities that were suspended on all levels. This comes in tandem with the preparations for the expected visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi to Ethiopia, and as part of the restoration of dialogue aiming to settle the dispute between the countries over the Renaissance Dam under construction on the Blue Nile. The dialogue was re-opened following the meeting that was held between the Ethiopian prime minister and President Sisi on the sidelines of the last African Summit held in Equatorial Guinea…



Tags: Egypt Ethiopia Israeli-Palestinian conflict Migrants Greece

10 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Smoke rises after an an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on 8 July. The Israeli army intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing scores of people in a military operation it says is aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)

Gaza endures third straight day of Israeli airstrikes (Washington Post) Israel’s major military operation against Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip entered its third day Thursday, with a surge in deaths in the territory, including nine Palestinians killed while watching a World Cup game at a beachfront cafe. The death toll in Gaza jumped overnight, doubling to 80 dead and more than 500 injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The latest fatality was 5-year-old Abdullah Abu Gazal, who was killed in a midmorning Israeli airstrike in Beit Lahia…

Water shortage crisis in northern Iraq towns (AINA) The water purification plants in Mosul supply water to the city and surrounding areas. After taking control of Mosul on 10 June, ISIS severely limited the water supply from Al Rashidiya and Al Slamiya water projects, which provide much of the Nineveh Plain with potable water. According to a report by the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, ISIS is allowing only about 90 minutes of pumping per day. The Assyrian towns of Baghdede, Karemlis, Bartella, Tel Kepe, Batnaya and Bashiqah — home to nearly 200,000 Assyrians — face severe water shortages…

Middle East’s stable monarchy comes face to face with extremist threat (Al Jazeera) Several times since the Al Qaeda breakaway group staged its astonishing takeover of Sunni-majority Iraq last month, supporters of the Islamic State have marched through the streets in Jordan’s southeastern city of Ma’an raising black flags and declaring their restive city “Jordan’s Fallujah” — a reference to the extremist stronghold in Iraq, the first city that fell to the insurgents back in January…

Ukraine warns rebels it plans to retake territory (Christian Science Monitor) Ukrainian government forces on Wednesday warned separatists in the eastern town of Donetsk that a plan was now in place to take back the territory they occupy, but defiant rebels reported a steady flow of new recruits who were ready to fight…

Holy Synod to elect new Ukrainian Orthodox Church leader in August (Pravmir) The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church made the decision to elect its new leader on 13 August, the church announced on its website



Tags: Iraq Middle East Jordan Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ukrainian Orthodox Church

9 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Palestinian woman reacts following what police said was an Israeli airstrike on a house in Gaza City on 9 July. The Israeli army intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing dozens of people in a military operation it says is aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel. (photo: CNS/Majdi Fathi, Reuters)

Holy Land bishops criticize ‘collective punishment’ of Palestinians (CNS) Catholic leaders in the Holy Land called for an end to the cycle of violence and criticized Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and its collective punishment of Palestinians. “Using the death of the three Israelis to exact collective punishment on the Palestinian people as a whole and on its legitimate desire to be free is a tragic exploitation of tragedy and promotes more violence and hatred,” said an 8 July statement from the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land…

Gaza hospitals struggle to treat wounded (Al Jazeera) As Israel continues to pound Gaza with air strikes — carrying out 50 bombings overnight and more throughout the day on Tuesday — Dr. Ayman al Sahbani expresses concern about the capacity of the territory’s hospitals to attend to the many injured. Gaza also suffers from a shortage of medicine and medical supplies, Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesman, Ashraf al Qedra, told Al Jazeera. Gaza is completely missing about 30 percent of essential drugs, while 15 percent of the remainder is expected to be exhausted within days of an Israeli assault, he said…

Report: Israeli forces stole $3 million during West Bank raids (Euro-Mid Observer) During the course of Israel’s three-week campaign of mass arrests in the West Bank, ostensibly to search for the killers of three settlers, the Israeli military and police conducted an average of 18 raids per day into Palestinian homes, charities and businesses, stealing cash and property worth an estimated $3 million, documents a new report from the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights…

Head of Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate dies at 78 (ABC News) The head of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church has died at 78 after leading it for more than two decades during the tumultuous post-Soviet period. Metropolitan Volodymyr Sabodan, who had been credited with stabilizing the church, died Saturday “after a long illness,” the church announced online Saturday. In his more than 20 years as head of the country’s largest church, Metropolitan Volodymyr weathered the breakaway of two groups that declared themselves independent of the Moscow Patriarchate. Observers say he succeeded in preventing even more splits…

Syria’s war widows fight for survival (Al Jazeera) According to United Nations figures, more than 145,000 Syrian refugee women have become the sole breadwinners for their families, struggling to provide food and shelter for their children and often facing harassment, humiliation and isolation. A report released Tuesday by UNHCR says that one in four Syrian households living in four major countries of refuge — Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt — are headed by lone women…

Inside an Iraqi Christian ghost town (Al Jazeera) Christians are only 2 percent of Iraq’s mostly Muslim population. And while they have little to do with the ongoing fighting, as I witnessed in the Christian village of Qaraqosh in Northern Iraq this week, they’re suffering the consequences…



Tags: Syria Iraq Refugees Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ukrainian Orthodox Church

8 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Residents of Gaza are picking through the rubble of flattened homes on Tuesday morning, after Israel launched what could be an offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. (video: Washington Post/AP)

Israel launches major operation against Hamas in Gaza Strip (Washington Post) The Israeli army, air force and navy launched a major operation Tuesday against the Islamist militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, striking dozens of sites in the coastal enclave and mobilizing infantry troops along the border for a possible ground incursion designed to stop rocket attacks on Israel. Israel announced the beginning of “Operation Protective Edge” to strike Hamas and protect southern Israeli citizens from intensified rocket fire from Gaza…

Kidnappings of Copts are increasing, appeal to President Sisi (Fides) The Coalition of the Copts, an active organization in the Egyptian governorate of Qena, has addressed an urgent appeal to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi and to the Egyptian Interior Ministry to ask for action against the scourge of seizures, affecting with particular virulence the Christians of Coptic confession in the areas of Upper Egypt. In the city area of Nag Hammadi alone, there have been 72 kidnappings for ransom in the past three years…

We need to help Iraq’s Christians, before it’s too late (Vatican Radio) “The situation was already bleak but now it has got a whole deal worse. For the first time the ever, the bishops have raised the doomsday scenario of an Iraq emptied of Christians,” reports John Pontifex, spokesman for the UK branch of the global Catholic Aid Agency, Aid to the Church in Need…

Recent events in Lebanon threaten religious coexistence (Al Monitor) A new concern has been added to the fears of the Lebanese people, whose Muslim community in this confessional country is fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. The security concern that surfaced in debates and discussions even before the start of Ramadan on 28 June has now taken the shape of bombs and immediate threats to non-Muslim Lebanese and other residents in Lebanon. For decades, Lebanon has prided itself on being the only place of religious and cultural diversity in the Middle East. However, it seems that this situation has now changed…

Ukraine rebels retreat for last stand (New York Times) Separatist rebels retreated Monday from positions in eastern Ukraine, apparently blowing up bridges, and began building barricades in the two largest cities, Donetsk and Luhansk, in anticipation of a final stand against advancing government troops. The action on Monday came after a series of surprising successes by Ukraine’s underequipped and underfunded military, which in recent days has driven the rebels from some strongholds that were seized early in the three-month rebellion. It has accomplished this without encountering strong resistance or a reaction from Moscow…



Tags: Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Violence against Christians Israeli-Palestinian conflict Copts

7 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis tosses a wreath of flowers into the Mediterranean Sea off the Italian island of Lampedusa in this 2013 photo. The pope threw a wreath to honor the memory of immigrants who have died trying to cross from Africa to reach a new life in Europe. Marking the first anniversary of his Lampedusa visit, the pope said the the tragic deaths of thousands searching for a better future should trigger compassion and action, not indifference. (photo: CNS)

Pope Francis sends message to mark Lampedusa anniversary (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to mark the first anniversary of his pastoral visit to the island of Lampedusa, which is a major way-point for irregular migrants from North Africa who seek to enter Europe…

Eduard Shevardnadze, Soviet foreign minister under Gorbachev, is dead at 86 (New York Times) Eduard A. Shevardnadze, who as Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s foreign minister helped hone the “new thinking,” foreign and domestic, that transformed and ultimately rent the Soviet Union, then led his native Georgia through its turbulent start as an independent state, died Monday. He was 86. In 1992, he was baptized into the Georgian Orthodox Church, taking the name Georgy…

Besieged Palestinians in Syria refugee camp ‘will likely go hungry’ (U.N. News Center) Unable for more than a month now to deliver food and other supplies to Palestinians trapped in a refugee camp near Damascus, the United Nations agency tasked with ensuring their well-being said today it is urgently seeking to resume its humanitarian activities, warning that the civilians would likely go hungry…

Hamas: Israeli air strikes in Gaza kill 6 of its men (Daily Star Lebanon) Israeli air strikes killed six Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip Monday, the Islamist group said, in the deadliest attacks in a surge of violence exacerbated by the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youths and a Palestinian teen…

Sisi: Egypt should have deported journalists (Al Jazeera) Egypt’s president has said he wished journalists jailed in his country had been deported rather than tried, less than two weeks after three Al Jazeera staff were sentenced to seven years in prison for “aiding a terrorist group.” Abdel Fattah al Sisi was reported by the Al Masry al Youm newspaper as telling a meeting of local editors that the trials had hurt Egypt…

Egypt’s Copts may soon regret supporting Sisi (Al Monitor) Most Coptic Christians will tell you that anything is better than the Muslim Brotherhood. Thus, the unequivocal support for current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi among Copts was no surprise. But now with the devastating curb of freedom of expression and the widespread crackdown on journalists and activists, the Coptic Orthodox Church is finding out, Copts, too, are not safe from the new government’s oppressive measures…

Christians displaced again by Iraqi violence (Al Monitor) An estimated 10,000 Christians have been displaced from the Nineveh plains to Iraqi Kurdistan during the past few days as a result of raids by the Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), surrounding the majority-Christian Hamdaniya district. Al Monitor has confirmed that shelters for displaced persons have been opened in the town of Ain Kawa, in Erbil province…



Tags: Pope Francis Gaza Strip/West Bank United Nations Georgia Immigration

3 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Iraqi refugees line up to receive free food inside the Khazer camp on the outskirts of Erbil, Iraq, 29 June. Archbishop Bashar Matte Warda of Erbil told Catholic New Service by telephone on 28 June the situation was going “from bad to worse.” (photo: CNS/Stringer, Reuters)

Iraqis flee to Kurdistan region (Al Jazeera) Since ISIL seized Mosul earlier this month, long-standing sectarian and regional rifts permeating Iraq have created a landscape that many now worry is irrevocably fragmented. However, because the fighting has largely been driving southward, and because of the presence of a well-trained Kurdish armed force, the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north has remained largely stable. This stability has drawn hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Mosul and the surrounding areas…

Tensions spike along Gaza border amid airstrikes as Israeli troops deploy (Christian Science Monitor) Israeli airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza overnight and the return fire of 14 rockets into southern Israel is intensifying concerns of a full-blown conflict after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers as well as a Palestinian teen…

Authorities dismiss threats against Christians in the Bekaa (Daily Star Lebanon) Lebanese authorities Thursday dismissed threats by a shadowy militant group against churches in the Bekaa Valley as bogus, a security source told The Daily Star. The so-called Free Sunni Brigades in Baalbek is nothing more than a group with a Twitter account, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “Security forces do not take this group seriously ... but the nationwide security plan inherently provides reinforcements outside places of worship,” the source added…

Chechen in Syria a rising star in extremist group (Washington Post) A young, red-bearded ethnic Chechen has rapidly become one of the most prominent commanders in the breakaway Al Qaeda group that has overrun swaths of Iraq and Syria, illustrating the international nature of the movement. Omar al Shishani, one of hundreds of Chechens fighting in Syria, has emerged as the face of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, appearing frequently in its online. Syria’s civil war, in its fourth year, has attracted militants from around the world. Some estimates run as high as 10,000 foreign fighters in the country. But the Chechens — hardened from years of wars with Russia in the Caucasus region — are considered some of the best fighters…

Reaching out to Eritrea: Italy seeks to encourage end to isolation (Vatican Radio) After the tragedy of the boat that sank off Italy’s Southern Island of Lampedusa, came Pope Francis’ first the appeal for a global response. Recently, Catholic bishops in Eritrea issued a pastoral letter calling on Eritreans to do some soul searching. Now Italy is reaching out to the Eritrean government. The Italian deputy minister of foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, visited Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to restart Italian-Eritrean relations…

Andra Pradesh bishops launch web network for Dalit youth (Vatican Radio) Spearheaded by Jesuit Father Dusi Ravi, the rector of Andhra Loyola College, Indian bishops have launched a network for Dalit youth to help them share information on jobs, scholarships and other opportunities…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Israeli-Palestinian conflict Iraqi Refugees Eritrea Indian Bishops





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