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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
26 September 2018
Greg Kandra




In the video above, the Rev. Nawras Sammour, who runs the Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria and Iraq, speaks of his hopes for his homeland as it seeks to recover from a long and brutal civil war. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Jordan king vows to protect Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian character (The Jerusalem Post) Jordan will thwart any attempts to change Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian character, King Abdullah II told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. He made an impassioned plea for a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the 2002 Arab League initiative and warned against a one-state solution to the conflict…

Priest vows Syria will recover (Rome Reports) The Rev. Nawras Sammour runs the Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria and Iraq. Until recently, their main task was to deal with emergencies. However, now they are promoting projects to rebuild the region and be able to start again…

Syria minister vows Idlib will be recovered (Reuters) The Syrian state will recover Idlib through war or peaceful means, a minister was quoted as saying on Tuesday, pointing to the government’s determination to defeat rebels there despite a Russian-Turkish deal that halted an expected army offensive…

World Bank warns Gaza’s economy ’collapsing’ (The Independent) Gaza’s economy is in “free fall” and half the population is living under the poverty line, the World Bank has warned, citing a decade-long blockade by Israel and crippling cuts to funding and aid. The devastating report, released on Tuesday, said the finances of the 25-mile long besieged strip were “collapsing”, liquidity had dried up, and plunging aid flows were no longer able to stimulate growth…

Inside a safe house for Ethiopian women (Pacific Standard) Off one of central Addis Ababa’s many bustling streets—past the vendors selling local fruits and vegetables and the young men shining the shoes of the wealthy—is a secret, self-enclosed village. In that village, women and girls, some as young as 11, have found a refuge. They have given birth to babies conceived from rape and fled bride abduction, early marriage, and other abuses. They have come from across Ethiopia to heal from horrors. Some humanitarian workers suspect increased rates of gender-based violence might be linked to the country’s current drought, its worst in decades…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Jordan

25 September 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2017, Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, attend an ecumenical prayer service in Cairo. Tawadros told a gathering in New Jersey yesterday that conditions for Copts in Egypt have improved. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Thousands arrested in Ethiopia following ethnic violence (New York Times) The Ethiopian government has arrested thousands of people around the capital, Addis Ababa, over the last week and sent many of them to military camps for “rehabilitation,” the authorities said on Monday, as the government sought to respond to mounting criticism from Ethiopians who say it has done little as ethnic violence has flared…

Official: 50,000 Syrians returned home from Lebanon this year (Reuters) Fifty thousand Syrians have returned home from Lebanon so far in 2018 and the number could reach 200,000 in a year’s time if it continues at this rate, a top Lebanese official said on Tuesday…

India’s manual scavengers pay price of neglect (UCANews.com) India’s lax policies and social neglect have been blamed for the increasing deaths of Dalit workers engaged in manually cleaning sewers and septic tanks. Eleven manual scavengers have died this month — five of them on Sept. 9 in a single incident in capital New Delhi as they were cleaning a sewage treatment tank. ”It is ironic that the government is projecting the issue as some isolated incidents” when so many die each year, said Bezwada Wilson, who is working to end manual scavenging…

Tawadros: Egypt society has changed for the better (Egypt Independent) Pope of Alexandria’s Coptic Orthodox Church Tawadros II visited Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Jersey City, US on Monday, leading a liturgy for thousands of Copts. During his visit, Pope Tawadros II praised Copts’ current conditions in Egypt, stating that society has changed for the better. He pointed out that Coptic members in the House of Representatives have increased to 39 members in 2015, compared to only one or two before 2011…

Coptic Christians nominated for Nobel Peace Prize (Coptic Orphans/PR Newswire) Coptic Christians have been nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for their refusal to retaliate against deadly and ongoing persecution from governments and terrorist groups in Egypt and elsewhere. The Copts, who are the indigenous people of Egypt and number as many as 20 million around the world, have been the victims of centuries of violence and oppression for practicing their Christian faith, chiefly in Egypt…



Tags: Syria Egypt Ethiopia Refugees Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II

24 September 2018
Greg Kandra




There have been growing concerns about the horrendous humanitarian toll that might follow a Syrian offensive in Idlib. The video above chronicles a Syrian returning to his homeland and describing his concerns for the future. (video: BBC/YouTube)

Turkey announces plans for ’safe zones’ in northern Syria (AP) Turkey said Sunday it would take steps to create “safe zones” across northern Syria, including in areas held by Syrian Kurdish fighters who are allied with the United States but who Ankara views as terrorists. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in New York ahead of the U.N. General Assembly, vowed to clear the region of the Kurdish fighters, who Turkey says are linked to the long-running insurgency in its restive southeast…

Boat carrying Syrian refugees sinks off Lebanon (Reuters) A boat with 39 Syrian refugees aboard sank off the coast of Lebanon as it sailed illegally for Cyprus on Saturday and most were rescued by the Lebanese army but a five-year-old boy drowned, security sources said. They said it appeared to be the first time in almost a year that a group of refugees had tried to get to Europe by boat from Lebanon, where Syrian refugees account for roughly a quarter of the population…

Kerala on alert for more heavy rains (Business Standard) Kerala, the state where the devastating rains, floods and landslides have taken a toll of thousands of people, is expected to receive heavy rainfalls on 25 September, said the state government. The State Disaster Management Authority has instructed district authorities to be on alert and directed them to take necessary precautions…

Mumbai pilgrimage to Marian shrine emphasizes importance of parents (Crux) Parents pass on their virtues, values, principles and understanding of life flow to their children, a bishop told pilgrims in India. Auxiliary Bishop John Rodrigues of the Archdiocese of Bombay was speaking at a students’ pilgrimage to Mount Mary’s Basilica in the Bandra neighborhood of Mumbai…

Nobel laureate dedicates U.N. World Peace Day to Eritrea and Ethiopia (AfricaNews.com) Leymah Gbowee, a Nobel Peace laureate said on Friday that the 2018 edition of World Peace Day had to be dedicated to Ethiopia and Eritrea. She said in a tweet that the two countries deserved credit “for putting their political differences aside and daring to invite peace back into their midst…”

Thousands of Christians celebrate Sukkot in Jerusalem (The Jerusalem Post) During Sukkot, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) hosts thousands of Christians from more than 100 countries. The holiday draws some 5,000 Christians to Jerusalem each year. Not only is the event a spiritual boost in which people come to express their love for Israel’s eternal capital, it also gives an economic boost, injecting $15-20 million into Israel’s economy each year…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Jerusalem Jews

21 September 2018
Greg Kandra




The video above shows the devastation from Kerala's flooding, and the recovery efforts so far. (video: TNIE/YouTube)

Syria blames Israel for killing Russians (Newsweek) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said Israel was responsible for a recent incident in which his armed forces accidentally downed an allied Russian aircraft while defending against an Israeli aerial assault…

Study says rare confluence of events led to flooding in Kerala (The Hindu) A combination of four factors led to extreme flooding across Kerala in 2018, a study says. The four factors are: above normal seasonal (May-August) rainfall, extreme rainfall events occurring almost across the State during the season, over 90 percent reservoir storage even before the onset of extreme rainfall events, and finally, the unprecedented extreme rainfall in the catchment area of major reservoirs in the State…

Pope: those exploiting foreigners for profit will pay on Judgment Day (CNS) No one can remain indifferent to the way minority groups are increasingly the object of so much fear, scorn and hatred, Pope Francis said. And he warned those who profit from exploiting foreigners or people in precarious situations and those who contribute to today’s new forms of slavery that one day they will have to answer to God for the choices they have made, he said on 20 September…

UN observes Peace Day (NDTV) The global community is celebrating the International Day of Peace today. The day is observed on 21 September every year. The International Day of Peace was first celebrated in 1982. It is recognized by United Nations. It has been declared by the United Nations General Assembly a day “devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples…”



Tags: Syria India United Nations

20 September 2018
Greg Kandra




The above video, from last month, shows some of the Ethiopians who have been internally displaced by ethnic violence in their homeland. A new report says Ethiopia has the largest number of internally displaced persons in the world. (video: AfricaNews/YouTube)

Report: Ethiopia has most internally displaced people in the world (AfricaNews.com) Ethiopia’s internal security lapses coupled with floods in parts of the country have earned them the unenviable record of global leader in internally displaced persons. According to the Geneva-based group, Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, IDMC, Ethiopia currently had about 1.4 million internally displaced persons for the first half of this year (January — June 2018.) ”The humanitarian situation in Ethiopia deteriorated significantly in the first half of 2018,” IDMC said in its current report. The country has 200,000 more internally displaced than Syria in second place…

Government team to visit Kerala and assess damage (The Indian Express) An inter-ministerial team, headed by a special secretary of the Home Ministry, will visit Kerala for five days beginning Thursday to assess the damage caused by the recent devastating floods, officials said…

Jerusalem police thwart attempted attack on Yom Kippur (The Jerusalem Post) Police thwarted an attempted stabbing attack around 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Jerusalem, shortly after Yom Kippur had begun. The incident occurred on HaNeviim Street, near the Old City, according to Police Foreign Press Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. The attacker was shot and killed by police…

Are Muslims observing a Jewish holiday? (Al Jazeera) Given the way in which the Christian calendar has been imperially universalised, the other two may look erratic and confusing, but Jewish and Islamic high holy days are perfectly logical, routine, and regular. Both Jewish and Muslim observers have noticed this proximity between Yom Kippur and Ashoura. On the occasion of the two holidays coinciding in 2016, Rabbi Allen S Maller noted how “both holy days occur on the 10th day of the month, Muharram for Muslims and Tishri for Jews…”



Tags: Ethiopia Jerusalem Kerala Islam

19 September 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2017, Pope Francis greets Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, during a meeting with representatives of the Conference of European Rabbis. The pope sent greetings to the Jewish community of Rome to mark this month's holy days. (photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope sends greetings to Jewish community of Rome (Vatican News) ”I am pleased to extend my sincere best wishes to you and to the Jewish Community of Rome”, Pope Francis said in a letter addressed to Rome’s Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Shemuel Di Segni. The occasion for the Pope’s greeting is three-fold: Rosh Hashanah celebrated from 9-11 September, Yom Kippur celebrated on 18-19 September, and Sukkot which begins on 23 September and ends on 30 September…

A month after the flood, 2,500 still in relief camps (NDTV.com) Even a month after Kerala witnessed an unprecedented deluge, said to be the worst in the last 100 years, at least 2,500 persons are still in relief camps in the state. Presently, there are 80 relief camps in the state, in which 787 families, comprising 2,457 people, have taken shelter…

Ethiopia’s reforms now challenged by unrest (AP) Ethiopia’s stunning political reforms are now threatened by long-standing ethnic tensions that have roared back to life since a young prime minister took power just five months ago and promised greater freedoms. While exiled groups once banned as terror organizations are welcomed home to join political dialogue, deadly violence erupts on the fringes of celebrations…

Jordan takes steps to support Jerusalem’s Palestinians (Al-Monitor) The Jordanian government’s decision to reduce fees on passports for Palestinians in Jerusalem has revived hopes of a larger role for the kingdom in defending the rights of Jerusalemites…

India’s religious minorities struggle to get scholarships (UCANews.com) The scholarships, started by the Ministry of Minority Affairs in 2006, offer financial grants from grade one to postgraduate and doctorate levels to encourage poor parents from minority communities to educate their children. The grants are available to deserving families from Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jain and Parsi families. Most grants go to Muslim students, as their community is the largest and poorest minority…

Thousands in Syria return home after Russia-Turkey deal (AP) Thousands of people who were recently displaced by violence in northwest Syria have returned home following a Russia-Turkey deal that averted a government offensive on the last major rebel stronghold, Syrian opposition activists said Wednesday…



Tags: India Pope Francis Ethiopia Jews

18 September 2018
Greg Kandra




Men prepare a Syrian revolution flag prior to protests on 14 September in the war-torn city of Idlib. (photo: CNS/EPA)

Indian diocese gathering evidence on martyrs (Vatican News) The Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar in eastern India’s Odisha state is currently gathering information and evidence on the martyrdom of some 100 people who were killed in the brutal anti-Christian violence that erupted in the state on 25 August 2008…

Christian aid group says Idlib civilians fear offensive by Syrian forces (CNS) Christians and other civilians inside Idlib, Syria, are fearful of an impending, all-out offensive by their government and its Russian and Iranian backers on the northwestern province, the last rebel stronghold and presumed endgame in Syria’s more than seven-year-old war. ”A Franciscan father told us that the situation in Idlib is really bad, the people are very scared. They don’t know what will happen and it’s unclear what is actually taking place,” Andrea Avveduto, communications chief for Pro Terra Sancta, told Catholic News Service on 17 September. The association, based in Jerusalem and Milan, supports the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land…

More EU aid for flood-hit Kerala (The Hindu) he European Union has allocated an additional 1 million euros in emergency aid for flood-devastated Kerala, an EU delegation to India said on Tuesday. According to a statement, this comes on top of the initial assistance of 190,000 euros announced last month and channelled through the Indian Red Cross…

In Ethiopia, violence targeting minorities leaves at least 23 dead (Business Day) At least 23 people were killed in a weekend of violence targeting minorities in the ethnic Oromo heartland near Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, police said. It is a blow to new reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s efforts at reconciliation…

Yom Kippur 2018: what you need to know about the holiest day of the Jewish new year (The Independent) Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, takes place in 2018 on the evening of Tuesday 18 September. Following Rosh Hashanah — the faith’s new year — Jews observe the Ten Days of Repentance, an opportunity to reflect on their sins and transgressions over the past 12 months…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Jews Saints

17 September 2018
Greg Kandra




In the video above, leaders from Eritrea and Ethiopia are shown signing a peace deal at a summit in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. (video: CGTN/YouTube)

Ethiopia, Eritrea sign peace accord at Saudi summit (Al Jazeera) Ethiopia and Eritrea signed an agreement at a summit in Saudi Arabia, bolstering an historic peace accord between the two former Horn of Africa enemies, officials said. Authorities did not reveal exact details of the new deal signed on Sunday in Jeddah, but sources close to the Saudi government said it would help strengthen the truce and enhance security in the wider region…

Indian government reaches out to others for help in rebuilding Kerala after flood (The Times of India) One month into the deluge which displaced people and left a trail of destruction, the state government has opened itself to welcoming support from anybody who can contribute to Rebuilding Kerala. Reaching out to financial institutions, central agencies and well-wishers in the country and abroad, the state government now plans to use mult-ipronged strategies to address the issues of livelihood and rehabilitation of affected families…

Hundreds of refugees in Lebanon plan to return to Syria (The Daily Star) Hundreds of refugees gathered in locations across Lebanon Monday morning in the latest return initiative organized by Lebanon’s General Security, in cooperation with the Syrian government. According to the state-run National News Agency, more than 200 refugees, the majority of whom will head to Syria’s Aleppo, gathered at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut’s Al-Tariq al-Jadideh neighborhood. The refugees will be transported on six buses through the Masnaa border crossing under the supervision of Laura Almirall, the head of the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR’s Mount Lebanon Field Office…

U.S.-backed Syrian forces launch offensive against last ISIS stronghold (The Jerusalem Post) A major offensive launched by U.S.-backed Syrian forces in the country’s east will likely lead to the downfall of Islamic State’s last major stronghold, but will not spell the end of the extremist group, analysts believe…

Architects slam planned cable car to Western Wall in Jerusalem (Haaretz) Prominent architects, including Moshe Safdie, have sounded an alarm over a plan to build a cable car near the Western Wall area, warning that the project will damage the Old City skyline and will fail to solve traffic problems in the area…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Eritrea

14 September 2018
Greg Kandra




A displaced family is seen on 11 September at a camp in Idlib, Syria. Efforts are reportedly underway to negotiate a ceasefire in the region, to avert a humanitarian disaster.
(photo: CNS /Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)


Turkey says it is working on ceasefire in Syria (Reuters) Turkey is working to achieve a ceasefire in Syria’s rebel-held northwest and is ready for cooperation to fight terrorist groups in the Idlib area, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday…

Jordan ambassador addresses plight of refugees (Vatican News) The refugee situation in Jordan was highlighted this week at the Festival of Mediterranean Journalists taking place in the Italian city of Otranto. Participating at the festival’s 10th edition was the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Jordan, to Italy, Fayiz Khouri, who explained that today the country, home to 21 percent of Syrian refugees, is experiencing a complicated situation…

Iraqi Christians having a hard time entering the U.S. (NBC News) Despite vowing to help vulnerable Christians around the world, the Trump administration is making it harder for Christian refugees to enter the U.S. The number of Christian refugees granted entry into the U.S. has dropped by more than 40 percent over the past year, a decline of almost 11,000 refugees. They have been caught in the wider net of President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration and refugees, which has lowered overall refugee admissions by the same percentage…

U.N. report links India’s ruling party with violence (UCANews.com) A new United Nations report has linked India’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with violence and inflammatory speeches against religious minorities. U.N. special rapporteur Tendayi Achiume, an independent human rights expert appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council, on 12 September submitted a report on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance…

Ukraine’s president discusses Russian aggression, his wish for sanctions on Moscow (The Washington Post) When Ukrainians took to the streets in the 2014 Maidan revolution, they ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and selected Petro Poroshenko as his successor to begin a period of reform. Poroshenko is up for reelection next spring, and polls show that Ukrainians are disappointed with him, particularly for what they see as his failure to clean up corruption. In a rare interview, Poroshenko discussed persistent Russian aggression, his wish for more international sanctions on Moscow, and the Trump administration’s sale of weapons to his country, which the Obama administration had blocked. Edited excerpts follow…



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Refugees Jordan

13 September 2018
Greg Kandra




Syrians have begun to flee Idlib, fearing an anticipated attack, as the UN reports the country is facing unprecedented levels of displacement. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

UN: Syria facing unprecedented levels of displacement (Al Jazeera) Syria has witnessed unprecedented levels of internal displacement not seen throughout the seven-year conflict with more than one million forced to flee, a UN report said on Wednesday. The 24-page report by the UN Commission of Inquiry detailed the ordeal many Syrians have faced in the first six months of 2018…

Syrian refugees facing harsh winter (UNHCR) Overall, there are more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees registered across the region — 2.6 million of whom are children — driven from their homes by a conflict now in its eighth year. And the needs of families are great. Without support people resort to desperate measures such as going without adequate shelter, healthcare or education…

Violent protests hit Basra, Iraq (Reuters) Violent protests in the Iraqi city of Basra have all but ended U.S.-backed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s chances of winning a second term and shattered Washington’s hopes of shaping the next government. Fifteen people have been killed protesting against power cuts, polluted water, poor services and perceived corruption in Iraq’s second city, many of them in clashes with security forces…

Economic losses from Kerala floods top $4 billion (Asia Insurance Review) Total economic losses from floods in the southern state of Kerala have been tentatively estimated at upwards of INR300bn ($4.25bn), as direct damage and business interruption costs are still being assessed, according to an Aon catastrophe report..

As a new leader rises in Ethiopia, the diaspora dares to dream (The Washington Post) Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has lifted a long-standing state of emergency, ended a decades-old conflict with neighboring Eritrea and called for Ethiopia to transition into a multiparty democracy. For the many Ethiopians who fled the country during the long years of autocracy, the reforms have revived a dream they once thought impossible: going home…



Tags: Syria Iraq Ethiopia Refugees





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