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Current Issue
December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
10 August 2015
Greg Kandra




The Chaldean bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo — shown in this image from 2013 — says he believes ISIS militants are seeking to push Christians out of Syria.
(photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)


Syrian bishop speaks out on kidnapping of Christians (Vatican Radio) The Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo in Syria, Antoine Audo says he believes the so-called Islamic State fighters are seeking to push Christians out of Syria and spread terror everywhere. He also warned that if the war continues, as seems likely, that gradually over the coming months and years, all Syria’s Christians will leave their homeland. Bishop Audo was reacting to the news of the abduction of dozens of Christians including women and children from the Syrian town of Qaryatain after the ISIS militants seized control of it earlier this week. The Christians were among a total of 230 residents in the town who were kidnapped by the militants...

Pope approves decree of martyrdom for Syriac Catholic bishop (Vatican Radio) On Saturday morning, Pope Francis received Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in a private audience. In the course of the audience, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation to promulgate the decree regarding the martyrdom of the Servant of God Flavien-Michel Malké, of the Fraternity of St. Ephrem, Eparch of Gazireh of the Syrians. Bishop Flavien-Michel Malké was born in 1858 in Kalat’ül Mara, Turkey and was killed in odium fidei in Gazireh, Turkey, on 29 August 1915...

Pope announces annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has decided to set up a “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” which will be celebrated on 1 September annually. He made the announcement in a letter to the heads of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity...

Ukraine reports heavy shelling by eastern rebels (Reuters) Ukraine accused pro-Russian rebels on Monday of carrying out the heaviest artillery attacks on government positions in six months and warned of signs the conflict was escalating despite a ceasefire deal. The military said 400 rebel fighters supported by tanks had attacked government forces around the village of Starohnativka, 50 km (30 miles) north of the Kiev-held port city of Mariupol. The rebels denied attacking government troops. Control of Mariupol could help the rebels form a corridor to the Crimea peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine last year...

Minorities in Kurdistan push for greater political voice (Voice of America) Christian and Turkmen minority lawmakers threw their voices behind a proposal put to Kurdistan’s Constitutional Committee Monday that would set up political councils to enshrine the rights of ethnic and religious minorities and ensure their participation in the Iraqi region’s governance. Christians are often treated as second class citizens by the Kurdish majority, explained Srood Maqdasy, a Christian Member of Parliament...

A homemade church bears witness to faith in Ethiopia (The Daily Mail) The vast expanse of ramshackle wooden huts and lopsided tents has seen it christened ‘the Jungle’ by those who live there. But amongst the rubble and sand dunes of the migrant camp that has become the epicentre of the Calais crisis sits a towering structure that looks out of place due to its grandeur. Like most of the buildings that have sprung up in the campsite, the Ethiopian Orthodox church, known as ‘St. Michael’s Calais,’ was fashioned from wood and tarpaulin donated by charities or simply found as scrap. Yet the structure has become not just a symbol of community resolve, but of just how long the band of migrants are willing to bide their time in the French port to secure their passage to Britain...



Tags: Syria Iraq Pope Francis Ukraine Ethiopia

7 August 2015
Greg Kandra




An Iraqi Christian child who fled from violence in Mosul, Iraq, lies on a bed in 2014 at a church in Amman, Jordan. The world continues to be silent in the face of widespread persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, Pope Francis said. (photo: CNS/Jamal Nasrallah, EPA)

Reports: ISIS has abducted dozens of Christians from Homs (BBC) Islamic State militants have abducted dozens of people, many Christian, from a Syrian town captured on Thursday from pro-regime forces, reports say. They were seized when the jihadists swept through al-Qaryatain in Homs province, monitoring groups say. Many of the Christians had fled to al-Qaryatain to escape fighting in Aleppo province to the north...

Pope condemns world silence on Iraqi refugees (CNS) The world continues to be silent in the face of widespread persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, Pope Francis said. One year after Islamic State militants drove thousands of Iraqi Christians and Yezidis out of the country, Pope Francis prayed that people around the world would be more attentive and sensitive to the reality of religious persecution and that “the international community would not stand by mute and unresponsive before such unacceptable crimes.” The Pope sent his message to Iraqi refugees who fled to Jordan after the Islamic State campaign in August 2014 sent tens of thousands of people fleeing their homes in the Ninevah Plain of northern Iraq...

Ukraine launches new police force in bid to head off corruption (The Wall Street Journal) A pro-Western government that swept into power last year with a promise to end corruption has largely disappointed Ukrainians, but one of Kiev’s new programs has been an instant hit: a new police force mostly made up of people with no law-enforcement experience...

Man transforms Gaza into place of color and art (Huffington Post) In the Al Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza, residents have transformed a conflict-stricken area into a vibrant work of art. Formerly bare doors and windows are now covered in rainbow shades of paint, and pastel-colored flower pots hang down alleyways. There are swirling murals on light purple and yellow walls, and brightly colored bricks line the sidewalks. The effort in Al Zaytoun to beautify the neighborhood was the brainchild of 58-year-old resident Mohammed Al Saedi, who wanted to create a positive atmosphere. He began painting pots in his own home, but had bigger ambitions...



Tags: Syria Iraq Pope Francis Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank

6 August 2015
Greg Kandra




In this image from May, displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community, who fled violence between ISIS and Peshmerga fighters in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, are seen at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in an area near the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk.
(photo: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)


Remembering the invasion of Nineveh, one year later (Fides) “It was horrible. I will never forget the terror imprinted on the face of tens of thousands of people. They were convinced that Isis would have killed them.” Rami, 22 years old, is one of the Christian refugees welcomed at the Mar Elias center, a refugee camp run by the Church in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. In a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, the young man reports on that tragic night between 6 and 7 August 2014, when he and his family had to flee from Qaraqosh together with other 60,000 Christians...

Struggle continues for Yazidis (Al Monitor) Faced with the hardships of living as internally displaced persons and scarred as a community by the brutality of ISIS, many Yazidis, especially young people, appear to have lost hope in having a future in Iraq. As a result they are migrating north toward Europe. The preferred destination for many is Germany, where there is a large Yazidi community estimated at around 60,000...

Russia invites Syrian opposition coalition to Moscow (Vatican Radio) Russia has invited the main Syrian opposition group to Moscow as part of international efforts to end the civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people. The invitation also comes as Croatia is anxiously awaiting news of a kidnapped citizen threatened with death by the so-called Islamic State...

Pope creates exarchate for Syro-Malabar Catholics in Canada (CNS) Pope Francis has established an apostolic exarchate, the precursor to a diocese, for Syro-Malabar Catholics in Canada and has named their current Toronto-based chaplain, Father Jose Kalluvelil, a bishop and head of the exarchate. Announcing the appointment on 6 August, the Vatican said about 9,000 faithful of the India-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church live in Canada. They are served by 15 priests, three of whom belong to religious orders. The new exarchate will be based in Mississauga, Ontario, near Toronto...

Pope approves new bishop for Adilabad eparchy of Syro-Malabar Church (Vatican Radio) The Holy Father has approved the election of Rev. Dr. Antony Prince Panengaden, until now vicar general of the Eparchy of Adilabad and pastor of the Cathedral Parish, as the Bishop of the same eparchy of the Syro-Malabar Church, in India. The approval follows the Holy Father’s acceptance of the resignation presented by Mons. Joseph Kunnath, C.M.I. from the pastoral governance of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Adilabad, according to canon 210 §§ 1-2 of the Code of Canon law of the Oriental Churches...



5 August 2015
Greg Kandra




In Baghdad last week, an Iraqi man shows a thermometer reading more than 50 degrees Celsius, or over 120 degree Farenheit. (photo: AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

Iraqis suffer through heat wave (The New York Times) Even after sunset, as the temperature coasts down from 122 degrees Fahrenheit, or 50 degrees Celsius, to perhaps 108, Baghdad’s heat can seem like a living thing. It clings to every contour of the body, squeezing tight. Iraq has been hot even by its own standards. Taking all conditions into account, the Weather Channel calculated that the peak day in Baghdad this summer felt like 159 degrees. It was a data point most likely of little use to outsiders unable to imagine even 122 degrees, and of little comfort to Iraqis living in it...

Refugees flood Greek island of Lesbos (The New York Times) Since the beginning of the year, the number of refugees and migrants arriving here and on other Greek islands has surged to full-scale humanitarian-crisis levels. Arrivals by sea have surpassed 107,000 through July, according to United Nations figures, eclipsing even the numbers of people reaching Italy. Most of those who arrive on the shores of Lesbos, a popular tourist destination just off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea, are fleeing the wars in Syria and Afghanistan and hoping to head deeper into Western Europe. In June, 15,254 migrants and refugees arrived on Lesbos, according to the Greek Coast Guard, compared with 921 the same month last year...

“Water project” for Aleppo concludes (Fides) Aleppo has again been without water since 31 July. A heat wave is expected for this week that will bring the temperature up to 45 degrees,” said a statement sent to Agenzia Fides by the NGO “Let us help Syria,” which along with the Marist Brothers and the Diocesan Missionary Centre of Rome have launched a project for the distribution of water in the martyred Syrian city. The extraordinary project “Water for Aleppo!” concluded two weeks after the launch, the statement said and “the collection of funds exceeded the budget initially planned for its realization, allowing its expansion.The purpose of the initiative was to allow Aleppo to cope with the terrible crisis caused by the interruption of the water supply that periodically prostrates residents of the second city of Syria...

Cardinal Sandri dedicates new cathedrals in California (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, on Saturday elevated the Church of Saint Anne in Los Angeles to the level of Co-cathedral of the Catholic Eparchy of Newton of the Greek Melkites. Bishop Nicholas Samra, the Eparch of Newton, was present at the celebration, as well as the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez... On Sunday, he presided over the Divine Armenian Liturgy celebrated at the new Cathedral of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg in Glendale, California. It was during this liturgy that the seat of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy was transferred from New York to Glendale and the Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator was raised to the level of Cathedral...

Ukraine army gets help from classic car restorers (BBC) The war in eastern Ukraine has prompted a group of classic car restorers to put their hobby aside and help the army instead. They are now busy fixing military kit — some of which is vintage, like the cars they usually repair. The enthusiasts work at the privately-run Phaeton museum in the city of Zaporizhya. It is just a few hours’ drive from the front line, where Ukrainian troops are battling Russian-backed separatists...



Tags: Syria Iraq Greece Melkite

4 August 2015
Greg Kandra




In this image from March, Mustafa Abdülcemil Kirimoğlu, leader of Crimean Tatars, speaks at the U.N. in New York. According to reports, he’s announced the creation of a special military unit of Muslim soldiers to protect Crimea. (photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukraine to create Muslim military unit (International Business Times) Ukraine will create a unit of Muslim soldiers to protect the Crimean border and monitor imports and exports amid an increasingly violent battle with pro-Russian rebels, a Ukraine leader said Monday. The Muslim battalion will be formed of Crimean Tatars, Kazan Tatars, Uzbeks, Chechens, Azeris, Meskhetian Turks and other Muslim groups, said Mustafa Abdülcemil Kirimoğlu, leader of Crimean Tatars, according to local media reports. The Muslim battalion is part of growing relations between Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians and will report to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said Kirimoğlu. Crimean Tatars are an ethnically Turkic and religiously Sunni Islam minority group that has faced decades of religious and political persecution under Russian rule...

Pentagon ramps up airstrikes in Syria (Los Angeles Times) U.S. officials Monday confirmed an expanded bombing campaign in Syria that increases the risk of confrontation with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, possibly drawing Washington more deeply into that country’s punishing four-year war. The Obama administration authorized the Pentagon to use force to help defend a small, U.S.-trained Syrian rebel unit against other insurgent factions — or against fighters allied with the Syrian government, officials said...

Facing threat from ISIS, Iraq digitizes its national library (AP) The dimly lit, dust-caked stacks of the Baghdad National Library hide a treasure of the ages: crinkled, yellowing papers holding the true stories of sultans and kings; imperialists and socialists; occupation and liberation; war and peace. These are the original chronicles of Iraq’s rich and tumultuous history — and now librarians and academics in Baghdad are working feverishly to preserve what’s left after thousands of documents were lost or damaged at the height of the U.S.-led invasion...

More children doing dangerous work in cotton fields in India (Fides) The number of children working in cotton fields continues to rise. According to a survey by the Indo-Dutch Committee and the private body Stop Child Labour Coalition, in India this activity involves some 200,000 minors age 14, minimum legal age for labour in the country. This year India is expected to become the world’s largest cotton producing country. It is to be noted that the number of children working in the cotton industry in India today is 100,000 higher than in 2010, the survey said, adding that working conditions in the fields are still dangerous and the children are exploited...

Ethiopia jails Muslim activists (Reuters) An Ethiopian court sentenced 17 Muslim activists on Monday to prison sentences ranging from seven to 22 years on charges they plotted to create an Islamic state in the majority Christian country. A journalist for a Muslim newspaper was also sentenced for conspiring with the activists, the court in Addis Ababa said. The defendants, who all denied the charges, were arrested in 2012 on charges of plotting to stage attacks to create an Islamic state in Ethiopia, which has a sizable Muslim minority...



3 August 2015
Greg Kandra




The Vladimir Cathedral stands near the ruins of Chersonesus, which Vladimir Putin has said is as sacred to the Orthodox as the Temple Mount is to Muslims and Jews.
(photo: Vatican Radio/Reuters)


Russia fights Islamic militants (Vatican Radio) Russia’s counterterrorism agency says its forces in North Caucasus have killed eight militants who had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group, including a local leader...

Putin puts “Temple Mount of Orthodox Christians” under federal control (Vatican Radio) Russian President Vladimir Putin has placed a major archaeological site in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine, under federal control. The move comes amid turmoil over the appointment of a director over what Putin views as the Temple Mount of Orthodox Christians. The Kremlin said the president ordered the area in the ancient Greek city of Chersonesus to be placed under federal oversight. The site is located just outside Sevastopol, the main port city in Crimea, the Black Sea Peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine last year...

Hotels in Greece filling with Syrian refugees (Greek Reporter) Syrian refugees have flooded numerous hotels in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, according to Greek newspaper “Ethnos.” Refugees that can afford to stay at hotels, book one or two nights as a layover in their trip to central or northern Europe. The long-suffering Middle Eastern country quickly rose to 5th place in the ranking of customers arriving at Thessaloniki hotels in the first half of 2015, from the 30th place they occupied during the same period last year, noted the newspaper, based on data released by the city’s hoteliers association...

Report: U.S.-led airstrikes have killed hundreds of civilians in Iraq, Syria (AP) U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria likely have killed hundreds of civilians, a report by an independent monitoring group said Monday. The coalition had no immediate comment. The report by Airwars, a project aimed at tracking the international airstrikes targeting the extremists, said it believed 57 specific strikes killed at least 459 civilians and caused 48 suspected “friendly fire” deaths. While Airwars noted the difficulty of verifying information in territory held by the Islamic State group, which has beheaded journalists and shot dead activists, other groups have reported similar casualties from the U.S.-led airstrikes...

Finding Ethiopian cuisine in Jerusalem (Roads & Kingdoms) There are now an estimated 130,000 Ethiopians living in Israel, a majority of them Jewish and Israeli citizens. Most of them or their families immigrated over the past three decades as part of Israel’s push to bring in Ethiopia’s Jews living in hardship. Their status as citizens is different from the smaller number of Israel’s Ethiopian Christians, many who made the journey, sometimes via smuggling routes through Sudan and Egypt’s Sinai, to find work and opportunities, or to seek refugee and asylum status. Ethiopians are now a very visible part of the fabric of Jerusalem. But the cuisine, as food trends go, has remained largely off the map...



31 July 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Sisters, along with Iraqi Christians who fled the violence in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, attend a Divine Liturgy celebrating the coronation of the Virgin Mary, on 31 May in Erbil. (photo: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

After one year stranded in Kurdistan, women religious speak (Aid to the Church in Need) The date of 6 August will mark the one-year anniversary of the expulsion of a group of Dominican sisters from their convent in Iraq’s Nineveh Plane to Erbil, capital of Kurdistan. Discovering that Kurdish militia had fled the ISIS assault, the sisters decided to leave their convent in Qaraqosh and march to safety along with thousands of refugees; they had just 30 minutes to pack their things. “We were panicked when they told us ISIS had gotten into the roads, so many people left with even just their nightgowns on,” recalls Sister Lyca…

Melkite patriarch criticizes West’s Middle East policies (Aid to the Church in Need) The worldwide head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church has charged that support from the West earmarked for moderate opposition groups in Syria is ending up in the hands of ISIS and other Islamic extremists. In an interview, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III, head of the largest Catholic community in Syria, said money and weapons given to allegedly moderate groups are being repeatedly seized by ISIS…

Christian population in the Middle East is dropping rapidly (AINA) Christians now face the worst religious persecution in over a thousand years in the Middle East, reports Christianity Today, based on a study conducted by the Pew Research Center…

Assyrian Christian woman shares story of captivity by Islamic State (Al Monitor) An Assyrian Christian woman released recently agreed to meet with Al Monitor at her daughter’s home in the outskirts of Beirut and tell her story of those months living as an ISIS hostage, and what she could learn about her captors and their identities. For security reasons, her name will not be disclosed. Sitting on her mattress on the floor, she says she is safe now, but the rest of her family is still held by ISIS in Syria’s Shaddadeh. As far as she knows her family is still there, where they had all been kept since February, when the villages were attacked…

Will Indian court ruling help ‘reconversions’ of Dalit Christians? (UCANews) A Hindu leader who promotes religious conversions in a southern Indian state says plans to convert some 100,000 Christians this year to Hinduism will be easier because of a recent court verdict. Radical Hindu groups have been conducting public “reconversion” ceremonies. The movement, known as Ghar Vapasi, or homecoming, claims to bring Christians “back” to Hinduism. Church leaders have pointed out that Hindu groups call it “conversion” when people convert to Christianity, but when Christians convert to Hinduism they call it “homecoming…”

Testing the limits: How many refugees can Germany handle? (Der Spiegel) More Germans than ever before are positively disposed toward asylum-seekers. This year, Germany is expecting to receive around 400,000 new refugees, a figure that may test the country’s new welcoming culture…



Tags: Syria Iraq India Middle East Christians Indian Christians

30 July 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Kurdish man shows the wounds of his donkey reportedly injured in an air strike by Turkish warplanes against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party on 29 July in the Qandil mountain. (photo: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

Kurd leader attacks Turkey’s ‘safe zone’ plan for Syria (BBC) A “safe zone” Turkey and the U.S. are creating in Syria is an attempt by Ankara to stop Kurds from forming their own territory, says the leader of HDP, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party. Selahattin Demirtas said Turkey’s operation against Islamic State militants across the border was a cover to target PKK Kurdish rebels. He urged both Turkey and the PKK to return to the peace process…

Patriarch Youhanna X stresses unity, peace at convocation (St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary) On Monday, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary bestowed a Doctor of Divinity degree honoris causa upon Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch and All the East. In his remarks following the ceremony, the church leader called for peace for all peoples in his homeland of Syria and its neighboring countries in the Middle East…

Orthodox sister ‘tortured to death’ in Kiev days after priest’s murder (International Business Times) An Orthodox sister has been found dead in her apartment in Kiev with her hands tied and evidence of torture. The killing came after a 41-year-old priest from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Moscow Patriarchate died of his injuries after being shot by two unknown attackers in Kiev…

‘Strong evidence’ of Israeli war crimes in Gaza (Al Jazeera) The Israeli army indiscriminately and deliberately targeted civilians during a brutal 2014 assault known as “Black Friday,” according to a new report on last summer’s Gaza war. The joint study by Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture, released on Wednesday, cites “strong evidence” of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity on 1 August 2014, as Israeli forces bombarded residential areas in Rafah in retaliation for the capture of one of its soldiers…



Tags: Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank War Turkey Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch

29 July 2015
Greg Kandra




This image from 2013 shows an aerial view of the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, the largest camp of its kind in the Middle East. The camp is now three years old. (photo: CNS/Reuters)

Syrian refugees mark third year in Jordanian camp (Voice of America) The U.N. refugee agency reports hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan face an increasingly grim future as the Zaatari refugee camp marks its third anniversary. Zaatari camp’s expansion mirrors the intensification of the war in Syria, which began more than four years ago with a series of anti-government protests. In just three years, Jordan’s Zaatari camp, set up in just nine days, has grown to be the largest camp in the Middle East, housing about 81,000 Syrian refugees. UNHCR spokeswoman Ariane Rummery said the camp, from its primitive beginnings, has become a vibrant, bustling home to the refugees, more than half of whom are children...

Turkey steps up bombing in Iraq (The Guardian) Turkish fighter jets have mounted their heaviest assault on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq since air strikes began last week, hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said a peace process had become impossible. The strikes hit six Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets including shelters, depots and caves, the prime minister’s office said. A senior official told Reuters it was the biggest assault since the campaign started...

African bishops launch Year of Reconciliation (Vatican Radio) SECAM, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) is today Wednesday set to officially launch the African Year of Reconciliation (AYR) as it commemorates its 46th Anniversary since it was founded...

Anti-discrimination law advances religious liberty in UAE (L’Osservatore Romano) “Under the new law, “all forms of discrimination based on religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin" are outlawed. This means that in the UAE, discrimination based on Islam is banned. The Sunni-Shia divide has been a fault-line around which many wars have been fought in the Arab world. With the new law, equality will be guaranteed among people, largely inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “This is a step forward.” These are the words of the Jesuit priest and Islamic scholar the Rev. Samir Khalil Samir, who spoke to AsiaNews about the new law against discrimination recently passed in the United Arab Emirates...

Widows tell the tale of India’s new Christian martyrs (Crux) In the galaxy of contemporary anti-Christian persecution, the martyrs of Kandhamal in India hold a special place, and not just because statistically they died amid the worst outbreak of violence specifically directed at Christians so far in the 21st century. The manner in which many of these Christians lost their lives, almost all of whom come from the Indian caste once considered “untouchable,” was almost unimaginably grotesque — violence more at home in the Bible or early Christian martyrology, seemingly, than the here-and-now...



28 July 2015
Greg Kandra




A Ukrainian serviceman cleans his machine gun on the frontline in the village of Maryinka in the Donetsk region on 21 July 2015. (photo: Anatolii Stepanov /AFP/Getty Images)

Rebels in eastern Ukraine block crucial aid (Vatican Radio) The biggest supplier of aid to rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine says its mission could end by Wednesday, if Russian-backed separatists continue to block its convoys, despite concerns over severe shortages for many destitute people, including many children...

Family of kidnapped priest consoled by Pope’s appeal (Vatican Radio) The family of the Rev. Paolo Dall’Oglio, the Italian Jesuit priest kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago, has thanked Pope Francis for offering them consolation in their moment of trial. At this past Sunday’s Angelus, Pope Francis appealed for the release of Fr. Dall’Oglio and of two Orthodox bishops of Aleppo who were also kidnapped during the raging confict in Syria in 2013...

Syrian refugees in Armenia “stumble from one crisis to another” (Al-Monitor) Armenia is currently mired in a grim economic situation of its own that has sent hundreds of thousands of its citizens abroad in pursuit of work — meaning some remaining locals haven’t always welcomed the increased competition for jobs. With unresolved disputes on its borders with neighboring Turkey, and Azerbaijan draining the budget and stymieing trade, the government has found itself ill-equipped to deal with the needs of its 3 million citizens, let alone a smattering of destitute refugees. Nowhere are these difficulties better illustrated than at Yerevan’s “Aleppo market,” where Syrian shopkeepers scrape to make a living in an unassuming pedestrian underpass with low foot traffic near the capital’s central Republic Square...

Photo essay: Gaza residents living without electricity up to 18 hours a day (International Business Times) The Gaza Strip, home to 1.8 million people, has been experiencing up to 18 hours of power cuts a day. The coastal enclave’s only power plant halted production earlier in July in a dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) over fuel tax. Hamas has been paying the PA for imported fuel but was unable to afford the tax bill. Qatar had donated $10m (£6.42m), effectively exempting Hamas from paying the tax, but this has dried up...







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