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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
20 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 20 January photo, Ukrainian soldiers carry the coffin of a fallen comrade across the Maidan Square in Kiev. (photo: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)

As fighting deepens in eastern Ukraine, death toll rises (Washington Post) Intensifying battles, mounting death tolls and dire new warnings from Russia have dragged eastern Ukraine’s long-running conflict into some of the worst fighting since last summer, rendering a months-old cease-fire agreement effectively defunct…

A new eparchy for Ethiopia and a new metropolitan for Eritrea (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has erected a new eparchy in Ethiopia, which will be known as the Eparchy of Bahir Dar-Dessie, and in another development, Pope Francis has also erected the Metropolitan Church of Asmara in Eritrea. Although Eritrea as a nation won its independence in 1991, the Catholic Church of Ethiopia and Eritrea have always been regarded as one episcopal conference. As of Monday, the two are now separate…

Flow of Syrian refugees to Lebanon drops after restrictions (Daily Star Lebanon) A United Nations official says the flow of Syrian refugees into Lebanon has dropped sharply due to restrictions recently imposed by Lebanese authorities. Although Lebanese border officials began informally restricting the entry of Syrians last October, Beirut officially imposed visa regulations earlier this month on their neighbors. The move was the first such in decades. Ninette Kelley, the U.N. refugee agency’s representative in Lebanon, told reporters Tuesday the number of new Syrian refugees in Lebanon dropped by 44 percent in 2014, compared to the previous year…

Maronite patriarch: Poverty destabilizes the Middle East (Fides) Poverty is a key factor in the lack of stability in the Middle East, because “there cannot be peace where there is underdevelopment,” said Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter. Thus, Jihadist factions shore up their numbers by virtue of financial resources, paying the salaries of the new fighters enrolled in its ranks…

Patriarch urges Christians, Muslims to lead fight against extremism (Vatican Radio) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael is calling upon Christians and Muslims of the world to lead the fight against fundamentalism by being the first to reject all forms of discrimination and violence. He made the call at a conference organized at the weekend in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, by the Iraqi Center for Diversity Management…



Tags: Ukraine Middle East Christians Ethiopia Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Eritrea

16 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Turkmen refugee child who fled Syria to the Akkar district in north Beirut, Lebanon, waits to receive humanitarian aid from the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency on 15 January. (photo: Ratib al Safadi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Prayers and calls for peace in Syria, Iraq (Vatican Radio) The ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq and the suffering of persecuted Christians there was the focus of a prayer effort in Rome on Thursday. The vigil took place as the United Nations issued a call for solutions to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect for the Congregation for Oriental Churches, led the vigil. In his homily, the cardinal prayed “for the conversion of those who do evil, that their hardened hearts open to a new way of seeing, a new experience of humanity, to an authentic religiosity that does not kill or persecute, but which promotes the good of the other, even if they are different…”

Food enters besieged Homs, Syria after local deal (Daily Star Lebanon) U.N. aid workers have started delivering food to tens of thousands of people trapped in a besieged district of Homs city in Syria following negotiations with warring parties, officials said Friday. In the absence of a nationwide peace deal, relief groups have tried to get localized agreements with fighters on all sides of the conflict to get convoys through to people in battle zones…

Lebanon: Syrians refugees facing deadly winter with little aid (Al Akhbar) For the refugees living in tents in Lebanon, the storm has yet to subside. The fear of death stays with them like the snow that has swept through their tents. Noura, who escaped from the hell of Aleppo to end up in an unofficial camp in Bar Elias, expresses grave concern over the situation. Carrying her baby in her arms to give him warmth, she says: “I only received food aid twice in the past four months. If the cold doesn’t kill us, we will certainly die of hunger…”

The small miracle amid the carnage in Syria (Talking Points Memo) In the beginning of October, Islamic State forces surrounded and besieged the Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria at the border with Turkey. IS had swept through Iraq quickly, picking up American tanks and mortars abandoned by the fleeing Iraqi army along the way. Observers feared a humanitarian disaster akin to the IS massacre of ethnic Yazidis on Mount Sinjar in August. The Pentagon insisted that, with no ground troops to fight, Kobane could not be saved. Turkish tanks sat at the border, waiting for an IS victory and a possible ground invasion. Months after it was supposed to fall, Kobane still stands, and IS has been forced back. The story of the town’s resistance is an epic tale of determination and self-defense…

Ukraine backs mobilization of troops in east (Vatican Radio) Ukraine’s parliament has approved a mass military mobilization amid allegations that thousands of Russian troops have invaded the east where separatists have sharply increased their activities. The measures come amid confusion over who is in control over the strategic airport area in Donetsk…

Bishops discusses support for Egyptian Christian schools (Fides) On 13 and 14 January, Egyptian Catholic bishops met in the district of Maadi to discuss coordination among various Catholic communities, with special focus on schools. Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac presided over the meeting, which was also attended by Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregory III, as vice-president of the ecclesial organization…



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Ukraine Lebanon

15 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrian refugees endure harsh living conditions at the Atmeh refugee camp in Idlib, Syria, on 11 January. (photo: Ahmed Hasan Ubeyd/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Syrian refugee freezes to death in Bekaa as storm toll hits 12 (Al Akhbar) A Syrian refugee woman froze to death in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on Wednesday, as the stormy weather that hit the country last week returned. Ramah Mohammed Tehrani is yet another name added to the list of Syrian refugees who perished in the latest ice storm, dubbed “Zina,” in Lebanon. Tehrani was found dead in her home, which she shared with her family in the outskirts of the city of Baalbek. She was a mother of three, including a 5-year-old daughter. “I am a maternal orphan now,” said her eldest son, 15-year-old Hekmat. His father is reportedly still in Syria…

Coptic pope: The cartoons of Muhammad are offensive (Fides) The cartoons on Muhammad published by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo are “offensive” and any insult must be rejected “at all levels,” said Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II. After the massacre, the magazine printed 5 million copies — whose cover shows a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad crying and holding a sign that says “je suis Charlie” under the title, “all is forgiven.” Religious insults, Pope Tawadros said, “do not help [the cause of] peace in the world, and do not produce any benefit…”

Pope says respect for religion should limit freedom of expression (CNS) Commenting on recent killings by Islamist terrorists at a Paris newspaper, Pope Francis condemned killing in the name of God, but said freedom of expression should be limited by respect for religion and that mockery of faith can be expected to provoke violence. The pope said freedom of expression was a “fundamental human right” like freedom of religion, but one that must be exercised “without giving offense…”

Chaldean bishops elected and confirmed (VIS) Pope Francis has approved the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Church of Rev. Basel Yaldo as auxiliary of the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans. Additional appointments include Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona as bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle in Sydney, Australia, and Chorbishop Emmanuel Challita as bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of Mar Addai in Toronto, Canada…

Syrian rebels, government reach truce in besieged area (Daily Star Lebanon) Syrian rebels and government forces began observing a 10-day truce Thursday in the last rebel-held area of the central city of Homs, marking another setback for opposition fighters, activists said…

U.N. envoy vows to press on for Aleppo truce (Daily Star Lebanon) U.N. peace envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura Thursday vowed to press on with efforts for a truce in Aleppo, adding that wanted a resolution of the devastating conflict this year. De Mistura, a Swedish-Italian diplomat appointed as U.N. envoy on Syria in July, said the second city of Aleppo was a “symbolic microcosm of all of Syria.” This was so “because it has the highest number of displaced people, because it has seen two years of suffering, because while the government and the opposition continue being involved in heavy fighting between them, ISIS is only 20 miles away from Aleppo,” he said…

Sunni-Alawite couples in Syria defy sectarianism (Al Monitor) Many believe that the conflict in Syria is a power struggle between Sunnis and Alawites, while others assert that the conflict is between a dictatorial regime and armed revolutionaries. In both cases, there is no doubt that sectarianism and hatred between Alawite extremists and Sunni extremists plays a major role in this conflict. Still, there are young men and women from different communities who continue to challenge this paradigm through love, determination and marriage. Damascus, despite the war, is still able to witness such love stories in these difficult days…

The Great Wall of Saudi Arabia? (Christian Science Monitor) Saudi Arabia has been constructing a 600-mile East-West barrier on its Northern Border with Iraq since September. The main function of the barrier will be keeping out ISIS militants, who have stated that among their goals is an eventual takeover of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, both of which lie deep inside Saudi territory, according to United Press International…



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Refugees Chaldean Church religious freedom

14 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A displaced Yazidi child looks out of a temporary shelter covered in Kurdish writing (“genocide in Sinjar”) in the Dawodiya refugee camp in Dohuk, Iraq, on 14 January. (photo: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

Yazidi refugees at risk of genocide (AsiaNews) ISIS’s hatred for Yazidis is even stronger than that towards Christians. The latter can convert or pay the jizya (a tax levied on some non-Muslims for protection). For Yazidis, whose beliefs are a mixture of Zoroastrian, Christian and Muslim influences, there can only be extermination to “cleanse” Islamic land from paganism. Women are the exception; younger women are given in marriage to ISIS fighters, while older women are used as slaves and prostitutes…

Shiite leaders forbid insults against Sunnis (Al Monitor) During the last week of 2014, Al Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed al Tayeb demanded that Shiite authorities in Iran and Iraq issue clear fatwas strictly forbidding the insulting of Sunni figures and their sanctities. This happened during the visit of Mahmoud Mahmoudian, the new head of Iran’s Interest Desk in Egypt. The grand imam called on Muslim scholars to “avoid strife between Sunnis and Shiites, as it is tearing the Islamic nation apart and preventing consensus and dialogue between both sects…”

Libyan militants claim kidnapping of 21 Egyptian Christians (New York Times) Libyan militants calling themselves part of the Islamic State said on Monday that they were holding captive 21 Egyptian Christians, raising new fears about the extremist group’s spreading influence beyond the battlegrounds of Syria and Iraq. The statement came on the same day that hackers linking themselves to the Islamic State temporarily seized control of the Twitter account of the United States military’s Central Command, and just days after the emergence of a video-recorded vow of allegiance to the group by one of the perpetrators of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris…

Oppressive policies unite Egypt activists (Al Jazeera) Ahead of the fourth anniversary of the 25 January uprising, Egypt’s Islamist and liberal activists, remain poles apart despite speculations that they may be considering some kind of rapprochement. “The time has come for us to restore popular unity in preparation for a new wave of the January revolution,” read a statement released by 20 Egyptian opposition groups on Sunday…

Closing Jewish tomb in Egypt raises tensions (Al Monitor) Egypt’s closure of the tomb of Rabbi Abu Hasira and the cancelation of the annual festival celebrating his birth in the Nile Delta have angered Jewish pilgrims and tourists, inciting Tel Aviv to take the matter to UNESCO…



Tags: Iraq Egypt Copts Libya Yazidi

13 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Iraqi refugees take shelter at the Arbat camp in Sulaimaniya, Iraq, on 9 January. (photo: Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Millions of Iraqis displaced by Islamic State (Al Jazeera) During 2014, more than two million Iraqis were internally displaced by conflict in northern and western Iraq. According to U.N. and Iraqi officials, most took refuge in the Kurdish regions, Baghdad and the southern provinces. The majority of displaced Iraqis are living in either temporary camps, which were settled by the U.N. mission in Iraq in cooperation with the Iraqi government, or are taking refuge in mosques and schools. The rest are hosted by relatives or volunteer families outside of the conflict zones…

Dispute between El Cajon priest and Chaldean leader in Iraq continues (Los Angeles Times) Intervention by Pope Francis has apparently not solved the schism between a prominent Chaldean priest in eastern San Diego County and the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq. At issue is a demand by Patriarch Louis Raphael I that the Rev. Noel Gorgis and several other Chaldean priests in the United States return to Iraq or face, in effect, excommunication. In an interview, the patriarch said that the survival of the church is at stake. “We have been there for 2,000 years,” he said. “We have a mission and a role, and if a future exists for the Chaldean Church, it is not in the diaspora but in Iraq.” Last week Pope Francis appeared to have settled the issue, asserting that Father Gorgis and the others need not accede to the demand. But on Friday, Patriarch Louis Raphael issued a statement that, in effect, said that he does not acknowledge the pope’s authority to overturn his order…

Latin patriarch: Holy Land Coordination visit sign of solidarity (Vatican Radio) The annual pilgrimage of European and American bishops of the Holy Land Coordination is taking place in Jerusalem this week. Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem says he is pleased that the bishops have come this year to give witness to what he describes as the “dire” circumstances in which the Holy Land is living…

At least six Kiev civilians killed when rocket hits bus (Daily Star Lebanon) At least six Ukrainian civilians were killed and more than a dozen wounded Tuesday when a rocket fired by pro-Russian insurgents hit a bus, Kiev’s military said. A statement issued by the press center of Ukraine’s military campaign in the east said around 20 people were also injured in the incident about 20 miles southwest of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk…

Pope: Religious beliefs must never be abused for violence, war (VIS) The second stage of Pope Francis’ apostolic trip to Sri Lanka was his visit to the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, where he participated in a meeting with representatives of other religious confessions. Following a speech by the Buddhist monk Vigithasiri Niyangoda Thero, the pope gave an address in which he affirmed the church’s profound and lasting respect for other religions, and reiterated that, for the sake of peace, religious beliefs must never be abused to justify violence and war…



Tags: Pope Francis Ukraine Iraqi Christians Iraqi Refugees Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I

12 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Patriarch Abune Mathias of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church meets with Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo on 10 January. (photo: Ahmet Zakaria/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch Mathias call for Unity between Orthodox churches (OCP News Service) Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch Abune Mathias of Ethiopia have jointly called for greater cooperation and unity between Eastern Orthodox churches. Patriarch Abune Mathias made several proposals for Orthodox unity to Pope Tawadros II. Pope Tawadros recalled his recent visit to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Patriarch Kirill and Finnish Archbishop Leo. All of them have expressed a great desire to unite…

Iraqi Christians feel little hope about returning to their homeland (AINA) The arrival of the Islamic State in Iraq might mean the end of the country’s Christian community, which has lived there peacefully for 2,000 years. “We will never go back,” says Taif Hanna, an engineer from Mosul who has taken shelter at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Naour, Jordan. “ISIS tried to kill us…”

In eastern Ukraine’s Miusynsk, pensioners struggle to survive winter (Al Jazeera) No humanitarian aid has reached Miusynsk, a village in eastern Ukraine of fewer than 2,000 people that hugs the border between Luhansk and Donetsk, the two regions controlled by pro-Russian rebels fighting Ukrainian forces. International aid organizations warn that Miusynsk is an example of the growing risk for a humanitarian crisis this winter in the rebel-controlled areas as the conflict drags on and the region becomes more and more isolated…

Photos: Surviving in war-torn Donetsk (Al Jazeera) As humanitarian aid dwindles and winter approaches, the residents of the Donetsk People’s Republic struggle to carry on…

International delegation of bishops visits Gaza (Fides) The group of 16 bishops who make up the Holy Land Coordination, a body that brings together bishops and representatives of the communities of Europe and North America, began their visit to Palestine and Israel with the sufferings and hopes of the people of Gaza…



Tags: Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Iraqi Christians Ethiopian Orthodox Church Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II

9 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Men in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip along the border with Egypt, gaze at the Egyptian side on 3 January. (photo: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images)

Gaza blockade extending southward and northward (Al Akhbar) Egyptian authorities have decided to completely demolish the city of Rafah on the borders with the Gaza Strip, North Sinai district Governor Abdul Fattah Harhour said, in a bid to create a buffer zone between Egypt and the besieged enclave. The authorities officially began the second stage of evacuation of Rafah homes on Thursday. According to Governor Harhour, “it would be necessary to completely remove the city of Rafah in order to create a buffer zone on the borders with Gaza,” adding that the authorities began evacuating 1,220 homes, housing over 2,044 families, in the area demarcated for the establishment of the zone. The displaced families will receive compensation for the values of their lost homes, but not for the lands upon which the homes were built…

Elderly Christians expelled from Mosul for refusing to convert (Fides) The militiamen of the Islamic State have expelled ten elderly Chaldean and Syriac Catholics from Mosul after refusing to renounce the Christian faith and to convert to Islam. On Wednesday, 7 January, the group of elders — some with serious health problems — was welcomed in Kirkuk, after spending two days in the cold in “no man’s land” between the villages occupied by the Islamic State and the area under the control of the Kurdish Peshmerga…

The pope receives a delegation of Yazidi (VIS) This morning, Pope Francis received in audience a delegation from the world community of Yazidi, according to the director of the Holy See Press Office, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, S.J. The delegation was led by the head of all the Yazidi, Mir Tahsin Said Ali Beg, and their supreme spiritual head, the “baba sheikh,” Sheikh Khato, both resident in Iraqi Kurdistan. The group also comprised three representatives of the Yazidi of north Iraq, Georgia and the diaspora in Germany…

Syrian refugees now largest group receiving UNHCR assistance (Euronews) According to the official 2014 registry by the United Nations agency the UNHCR, refugees from Syria now outnumber refugees from Afghanistan. In June, the Syrians had already surpassed three million, now it’s estimated there are some four million Syrian war refugees. “We are facing what I really consider the most dangerous crisis for global peace and security since the Second World War,” says U.N. refugee chief António Gutierres…

Greek Orthodox Church to Be Built in U.A.E. (Greek World Reporter) A Greek Orthodox Church will be built in Mussafah, Abu Dhabi, over the next year in order to accommodate all the worshipers who reside in the area. Abu Dhabi currently hosts 700 registered Greek Orthodox families, but according to the Rev. Stephanos Neaimeh, there are at least 300 more families in the emirate who have not been registered…

Number of persecuted Christians tops 100 million worldwide, study says (Vatican Radio) The number of persecuted Christians in the world has topped 100 million, according to a new report that says even non-violent persecution of Christians has increased, amid continuing violence. The list ranks the 50 countries where it is most dangerous and difficult to be a Christian…



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank

8 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrian refugees live in makeshift dwellings in the Ketrmaya neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon. (photo: Ratib al Safadi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Canada opens its doors to 10,000 Syrian refugees (Christian Science Monitor) Canada announced Wednesday that it will be opening its borders to a total of 10,000 refugees from Syria and 3,000 from Iraq over the next three years, The Globe and Mail reports. That figure is only a fraction of the people who have been displaced by conflicts in the Middle East: There are about 6.5 million internally displaced people or IDPs out of Syria and about 400,000 out of Iraq, according to the latest data from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Still, the announcement is a welcome relief for other countries in the region, most of whom been hosting a near-constant flow of refugees since the Syrian civil war broke out four years ago…

Lebanon minister: Syrian visa rules don’t apply to refugees (Daily Star Lebanon) Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas reiterated Thursday that the controversial new measures requiring Syrians to obtain visas to enter Lebanon do not apply to those holding refugee status in the country…

Syrian refugees suffer in storm-hit Lebanon (Al Jazeera) At least four Syrian refugees have died as a result of the huge storm that is currently sweeping across Lebanon, as more than a million refugees try and survive against the onslaught of snow and rain. “We are slowly dying here, no one is coming to help us and we have nothing,” said Um Abdo, a Syrian refugee based in Arsal, adding that she is worried about the children living with her, who may face hypothermia…

WHO: Medical aid unable to enter Syrian rebel-held Aleppo (Daily Star Lebanon) The World Health Organization (WHO) has been unable to get a desperately needed medical aid convoy through to civilians in the rebel-held part of Aleppo despite a government promise last month to give it access. “Delays often happen due to operational and/or security reasons but details are not to be shared,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jaarevi said in an email Tuesday…

Bitter harvest: Israeli bombs sowed grief for Gaza farmers (Al Jazeera) “Ours is a life of no guarantees,” said Khalil Zaanin. His farm, near the only Gaza Strip border crossing with Israel, was destroyed this summer when Israeli tanks and military bulldozers rolled into the community of Beit Hanoun during the invasion of Gaza. That prompted cameraman-turned-farmer Khalil to leave with his wife, son and two teenage daughters for Gaza City, where they took shelter with friends. When he returned to his land during a second cease-fire, he was greeted by a grim sight. “I didn’t find anything,” he said, pointing at the remains of a stone well. “The land, the fruit trees, the water well — everything was gone, even under the ground…”



Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank Canada

7 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Snow blankets the tents of Syrian refugees on the road between Riyaq and Baalbek in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley, near the border with Syria, on 7 January. (photo: -/AFP/Getty Images)

Three Syrian refugees freeze to death as brutal storm hits Lebanon (Al Akhbar) Three Syrian refugees, including a 5-year-old child, have reportedly frozen to death in Lebanon as a major storm dumped snow and rain on the country, sources told Al Akhbar on Wednesday. Three refugees, 5-year-old Majd Kheir al Badawi, 33-year-old Ammar Ahmed Kammal and Mohammed Ibrahim Abou Daher, were found stuck in the snow and frozen on early Wednesday in Ain al Joz in the mountains by Shebaa…

5.5 million displaced by war in first half of 2014, signaling record (U.N. News Center) War across large swathes of the Middle East and Africa in the first six months of 2014 forcibly displaced some 5.5 million people, signaling yet another record, the United Nations reported today. The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) in its new Mid-Year Trends 2014 Report showcases that of the 5.5 million who were newly displaced, 1.4 million fled across international borders becoming refugees, while the rest were displaced within their own countries…

President Sisi attends Coptic Christmas liturgy in Cairo (Fides) Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi attended Christmas mass at Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, where he greeted Coptic Christians in a speech on Tuesday, 6 January. “The Egyptian President’s attendance at the religious service is a new event in the history of Egypt: in the past, the presidents sent their representatives…”

Palestinians escalate campaign for sovereign statehood (Los Angeles Times) After a disastrous 2014, Palestinians are embarking on a risky new gambit for 2015: seeking to internationalize the Middle East peace process. After decades of American-led mediation efforts, the Palestinian leadership is moving aggressively to court world support for sovereign statehood, despite warnings from within and without that such a strategy could backfire and strengthen Israel’s hand…



Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Palestine United Nations

6 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrian children stand in the back of a truck as they flee the contested Bab al Hadid neighborhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo following an overnight rocket attack on 2 January. (photo: Zein al Rifai/AFP/Getty Images)

New year offers little chance for children’s education in Syria, warns UNICEF (U.N. News Center) Recent school closures in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor governorates and parts of rural Aleppo in Syria have disrupted the education of some 670,000 children of primary and lower-high school age, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today. Briefing the press in Geneva today, UNICEF’s Christophe Boulierac warned that as the conflict enters its fifth year, 2015 will offer little chance for children’s education. Between January and December 2014 alone there were at least 68 attacks on schools across Syria, reported Mr. Boulierac. Those attacks reportedly killed at least 160 children and injured 343. But the real numbers are likely to be higher…

Armenian church head decries Christian persecution in the Middle East (Daily Star Lebanon) On Tuesday, Armenian Catholicos Aram I of Cilicia deplored the targeting of Christians by the region’s extremist groups and called for Lebanon to elect a new a president to safeguard the country from rampant violence…

Patriarch Abune Mathias of Ethiopia to visit Egypt for the first time (OCP News Service) A delegation of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church led by Patriarch Abune Mathias will visit Egypt on Saturday on the invitation of Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria. This is the first apostolic visit of Patriarch Abune Mathias to the Coptic Patriarchate. These two ancient churches of the Oriental Orthodox family have a historic relation between them. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was ruled by the Coptic patriarch until the 20th century, when autocephalous status was granted in 1959…

Jordan to arm Sunni tribes in Iraq, Syria (Al Monitor) Jordan has adopted a new strategy in the fight against the Islamic State aimed at defending the kingdom against possible incursions by the militant group from western Iraq and eastern and southern Syria. On two separate occasions, King Abdullah declared that Jordan will do its best to support tribes in Syria and Iraq “that are engaging terrorist groups in both countries.” The king told the heads of southern Jordanian tribes on 18 December that Jordan is implementing “a security strategy to confront challenges [on fronts with Syria and Iraq] in accordance with programs that are being followed by the armed forces and the security bodies.” He added that the Jordanian armed forces will not hesitate to carry out their duty toward “Arab neighbors and brethren…”



Tags: Syria Children United Nations Ethiopian Orthodox Church Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II





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