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Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
  
27 August 2018
Greg Kandra




Religious sisters from various congregations prepare items for meals at a relief camp in Trichur, Kerala. (photo: Rev. Jolly Vadakken/Global Sisters Report)

As Kerala struggles to recover from catastrophic flooding, sisters are pitching in with the relief effort.

From Global Sisters Report:

More than 6,700 Catholic nuns are among those helping over a million people taking shelter in relief camps after unprecedented floods ravaged Kerala, a southwestern Indian state.

“This is the biggest rescue and relief operation the Catholic Church in Kerala has undertaken in its history,” says the Rev. George Vettikattil, who heads the church’s relief operations in the state.

The church deployed its personnel and opened its institutions across Kerala to help people after rains and massive floods devastated 13 of Kerala’s 14 districts from 15 August through 20 August. The rain has stopped in many places and water is now receding.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on 24 August told the media that the rains and floods have claimed 417 lives. At least 36 people are still missing.

The floods initially displaced nearly 1.3 million people. About 869,000 people were still sheltered in 2,787 relief centers in the state, Vijayan said.

The initial estimated loss was around 200 billion rupees ($2.85 billion).

Catholic aid agencies such as Caritas India are now working among the flood victims. Caritas India has already spent about 6.1 million rupees ($87,140) distributing food, medicine and sanitation items. Its director Fr. Paul Moonjely says the agency plans to raise another 10 million rupees.

Vettikattil says all 32 Catholic dioceses in Kerala have joined relief works. As many as 69,821 young people and 99,705 lay volunteers joined 6,737 nuns, 2,891 priests and 354 seminarians to rescue stranded people with the help of government agencies and individually, the priest told Global Sisters Report.

Read more.

And to learn how CNEWA is supporting this effort — and how you can pitch in yourself — visit this link.



Tags: India Sisters Kerala

27 August 2018
Greg Kandra




Indian Christians marked the 10th Anniversary of the atrocities in Kandhamal with a Mass in Bhubaneswar on 25 August 2018. (photo: Vatican News)

India’s Christians mark somber anniversary (Vatican News) Ten years on, India’s Christians recalled the terrible massacre of their brothers and sisters in faith in eastern India’s Odisha state, with a commemorative Mass on Saturday in the state capital in thanksgiving, reconciliation and grace. Bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful came together in large numbers for the high Mass at St. Joseph’s School in Bhubaneswar on 25 August, recalling the day 10 years ago when violence erupted with untold brutality against the Christians of Kandhamal District, with Hindu extremists blaming them for the 23 August murder of their Hindu leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples…

As India recovers from floods, sense of community grows (Channel News Asia) It is likely to take months for the Indian state of Kerala to get back on its feet, after severe flooding claimed hundreds of lives, destroyed tens of thousands of homes and washed away roads and bridges. But the disaster has brought out the best in people in Kerala — their sense of community…

Jordan’s king calls for help to refugee-hosting states (Andalou Agency) King Abdullah II of Jordan on Monday called on the international community to assume its responsibilities towards the countries hosting Syrian refugees. This came during a meeting between the Jordanian monarch and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, who arrived in the kingdom on Sunday for an official visit...

Iran and Syria sign deal for military cooperation (Reuters) Iran and Syria signed a deal for military cooperation in a meeting between the defense ministers of the two countries in Damascus, the Tasnim news agency reported on Monday. Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami traveled to Damascus on Sunday for a two-day visit, meeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and senior military officials, Tasnim reported…

Why Ethiopians believe their new prime minister is a prophet (CNN) Since taking office on 2 April, Africa’s youngest head of government has electrified Ethiopia with a dizzying array of liberal reforms credited by many with saving the country from civil war. Abiy has freed thousands of political prisoners, unblocked hundreds of censored websites, ended the 20-year state of war with Eritrea, lifted a state of emergency, and planned to open key economic sectors to private investors, including the state-owned Ethiopian Airlines…

Report: Orthodox clergy targeted by Russian spies (ABC News) The Associated Press has found that the same hackers charged with intervening in the 2016 U.S. presidential election also spent years trying to eavesdrop on Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, often described as the first among equals of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christian leaders…



Tags: India Ethiopia Refugees Jordan Russian Orthodox

24 August 2018
Greg Kandra




Seminarians from the Pune Papal Seminary collected food, medicine and blankets to deliver to residents of Kerala who have lost everything in the floods. (photo: UCANews)

The disastrous flooding in Kerala has prompted a remarkable outpouring of humanitarian support.

CNEWA has rushed aid to the region — and others are also pitching in.

From UCANews:

Two trucks carrying the relief material from Pune left for Paravur, one of the worst flood-affected areas in southern Kerala state that is reeling under deluge for the past one week.

The collection was done in collaboration with De Nobili College, Pune and other houses of Pune Papal seminary.

The seminarians and others from the campus collected material for the past one week and sorted and packed them ready for transportation to relief camps.

“We were approached by the authorities seeking help, so started collecting materials,” said the Rev. Vincent Crasta who works in Papal Seminary

Flash floods and landslides in the past week have killed some 380 people and displaced some 800,000 to relief camps as overflowing rivers ploughed through residential areas washing away homes, farm lands, roads and bridges.

Schools, churches, temples, mosques and seminaries and convents have been converted to relief camps accommodating thousands who have no food, cloth or place to sleep.

Father Crasta said that one more truck will leave this evening carrying the relief material.

Five seminarians are accompanying the trucks carrying medicines, blankets, towels, toilet articles, candles, cleaning material, biscuits and bed sheets. The seminarians will return immediately after the relief materials are delivered on Sunday.

But goodwill is also pouring in from people of all religions and castes:

Transgressing all barriers of religion and caste, rich and poor, high and low, Indians have joined hands to provide succor to people reeling under the worst flood in five decades in Kerala.

Justice Kurien Joseph, a Supreme Court judge, Catholic and Kerala native, worked until late at night in New Delhi to help pack and label boxes containing relief materials for flood victims.

“It was heartening to see people unite in love for their suffering brethren casting aside all boundaries of religion and region,” Joseph said as he assisted children and women packing materials.

The flood in the southern state washed away hundreds of houses and submerged villages, killing at least 370 people and displacing about 800,000 to relief camps.

Not only Kerala people living in New Delhi “but people from other parts of India have gathered here. It just goes to show that goodness has not disappeared from humans,” Joseph said.

A group of lawyers launched the initiative through social media. Despite the short notice, people gathered with clothing and food to be packed and sent to the flood-hit state 2,500 kilometers away.

In Kerala, fishermen took out their boats on their own to rescue people. According to reports, they refused remuneration from the government for their voluntary work, saying they did not do it for money.

“Jesus’ love thy neighbor philosophy has never been so evident in our country,” said Lucy John, a teacher from New Delhi’s Mayur Vihar area, where a collection drive was organized by an association of Kerala people.

…Also keen to help, Indian Railways is ferrying relief materials free of cost.

The Ramakrishna Mission, a Hindu organization, is at the forefront of relief operations in northern Kerala, said Swami Shantatmananda, secretary of its New Delhi branch.

“We are sending cash donations from states while our Chennai centers are organizing relief materials,” he told ucanews.com.

Khalsa Aid, the U.K.-based Sikh organization’s Indian wing, has volunteers cooking and providing food for the marooned.

Churches, church-run schools, seminaries, convents and other Christian institutions have opened their doors to stranded flood victims besides providing relief in cash and kind.

Read more.

And to help CNEWA’s efforts in the region, please visit this page.



Tags: India Kerala

24 August 2018
Greg Kandra




In India, hundreds of thousands of people in Kerala are coping with the worst flooding in a century. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

After worst flooding in a century, India turns down foreign aid (The New York Times) After devastating floods killed more than 400 people and engulfed entire towns in a southern state in India, the United Arab Emirates offered $100 million to help the recovery. The Indian government’s response: thanks, but no thanks…

Fear of drought in parts of south India (The Times of India) In a cruel irony, surging rains in Kerala have lifted the monsoon’s performance in south India to an 11 percent surplus. The figure, however, doesn’t reveal the extremely skewed rain distribution in the region. Outside Kerala and coastal Andhra, half the districts in south India are grappling with deficient rainfall…

Ethnic unrest tarnishes new Ethiopian leader’s reforms (Reuters) A surge in ethnic violence, sometimes in the form of mob attacks, has displaced nearly 1 million people in the past four months in southern Ethiopia and is inflaming bad feeling between ethnic groups in other regions. The violence threatens to undermine Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s calls for unity in one of Africa’s most ethnically diverse countries. It also overshadows the popular liberal measures he has announced since coming to power in April…

Iraqi Christians unable to attend World Meeting of Families (AsiaNews) The Iraqi delegation’s exclusion from attending the 2018 World Meeting of Families, scheduled from 21-26 August in Dublin (Ireland) is “a terrible event”, says Msgr. Shlemon Audish Warduni, auxiliary bishop of Baghdad. The number two to the Chaldean patriarch confirms that there will be no faithful present at the Irish meeting due to a problem linked to the issue of entry permits. “They told us that it took months to process them — explains the prelate — and our online applications were not even granted…”

Report: in 24 hours, Armenia violates ceasefire 86 times (AzerNews) Over the past 24 hours, Armenian armed forces have 86 times violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said 24 August. Armenian armed forces were using heavy machine guns. The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts…



Tags: India Iraq Ethiopia Armenia

23 August 2018
Greg Kandra




The video above shows how thousands of residents who fled their homes after the flooding in Kerala have begun returning home. What they are finding is often overwhelming. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

Kerala victims try to pick up the pieces of their lives (CNN) Idicula Gevarghese, forced to abandon his home in the town of Venmoney in the southern Indian state of Kerala last week, returned with his family on Monday to the ruins of their lives. Three of them -- himself, his wife and their granddaughter -- came back to the swamped house armed with disinfectant, and began the overwhelming task of clearing out five days of muck and water…

Palestinians: No ‘deal of the century’ without Jerusalem as capital (Haaretz) The Palestine Liberation Organization condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement that Israel will have to give something in return to the Palestinians now that Jerusalem is “off the table,” calling it ”meaningless…”

A course for Catholics organized by Russian Orthodox patriarchate (AsiaNews) A training course for representatives of the Catholic Church opens in Moscow on 24 August. They will attend a program prepared for them by the Moscow Patriarchate until 2 September. This was announced by the press service of the Department for external ecclesiastical affairs of the Patriarchate, recalling that it is the fourth appointment of this kind. After some years of frosty relations, starting 2016 the Russian Orthodox Church began to share several initiatives with the Catholic Church, such as these study exchanges that the Orthodox themselves took advantage of last May, sending their own delegation to Rome…

Eritrea mulls building port on Red Sea (Bloomberg) Eritrea is considering building a port on its Red Sea coastline to export potash from deposits being developed in the Horn of Africa nation, a mines ministry official said. Plans for the harbor signal the country’s reemergence as a potential investor destination after its surprise rapprochement with neighboring Ethiopia last month ended two decades of political tensions…

UN marks international day for remembrance and abolition of slavery (Vatican News) The international observance “helps to guard against racial prejudices that have been developed to justify slavery and continue to fuel everyday racism and discrimination against people of African descent,” said UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, in a message for Thursday’s observance. Since 2001, trafficking and slavery have been recognized by the international community as crimes against humanity, but Azoulay observed that “these scourges resurface at regular intervals in different ways and in different places.” ”That is why,” she said, “a better knowledge of the history of the slave trade and slavery is essential for a better understanding of the emergence of new forms of slavery, in order to prevent them…”

Syria’s famous ice cream is melting hearts in Jordan (Haaretz) There are certain institutions that are immune to economic fluctuations and major upheavals. Such is the Bakdash ice-cream enterprise, which after seven years of civil war and more than half-a-million dead, is still making its famous product every day in the Al-Hamidiyah Souq in the old city of Damascus. And in our case, it is also weathering Jordan’s high cost of living, which is bringing masses of people to the streets in protest…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Palestine Kerala

22 August 2018
Greg Kandra




A man stands outside what is left of his home following the severe flooding that swept through Kerala. (photo: CNEWA)

The devastating rains that have flooded Kerala have stopped for now. But as the waters recede, the full extent of the damage is finally being revealed.

From UCANews:

For the first time in many days, the sun shone brightly over Kerala on Tuesday even as hundreds of thousands remained in relief camps while many who returned home broke down after seeing the enormity of the destruction.

There were no rains and the level of flood water in several areas of the state that got submerged had receded, officials and residents said. But the low-lying areas in the districts of Ernakulam, Idukki and Thrissur were still under a sheet of water.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), home to hundreds of thousands of Keralites, has pledged $100 million for relief work in Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced.

“A new Kerala has to be built... Funds are the prime requisite for this. This will be raised by us through various sources besides getting it from the Centre and other agencies,” he told the media.

Read more.

The need at this moment is great. Please visit this link to learn how you can help — and kindly remember our brothers and sisters in Kerala in your prayers. Thank you!



Tags: India Kerala

22 August 2018
Greg Kandra




A young flood victims eats a meal inside a temporary relief shelter on 20 Augusut in Cochin, India. (photo: CNS/Sivaram V, Reuters)

Caritas India reaching out to flood victims (Vatican News) After heavy lashing by monsoon rains since 8 August, southern India’s Kerala state is limping back to normalcy with the rains subsiding since Monday. However, the task of recovery and rehabilitation remains enormous and arduous. According to Kerala state chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, 223 deaths have been reported and over a million people are staying in 3,274 relief camps, of which more than 100,000 are kids below 12 years of age. As waters recede, the threat of water-born and air-borne diseases loom large with scarcity of clean drinking water and sanitation in relief camps…

Assad and Aoun discuss ways for Syrian refugees to return from Lebanon (AsiaNews) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun recently discussed the refugee problem, one of the most serious consequences of the conflict that has been bloodying Syria for seven years, in a telephone conversation. According to sources of al-Akhbar newspaper, the two leaders have investigated ways and means “to accelerate their return home”…

Suicide attack kills Sunni fighters in northern Iraq (Reuters) A suicide attack on a former Iraqi lawmaker’s house killed at least six tribal militiamen and wounded seven others in a northern Sunni Muslim village early on Wednesday, police said. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but Islamic State militants operate in the area…

Hindu musicians face opposition at Christian concerts in India (UCANews.com) Hindu classical musicians who perform at Christian concerts face stiff opposition from fans and hard-line Hindu groups in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. Carnatic singer O.S. Arun canceled a performance after he was severely criticized on social media and accused of helping Christians to proselyte and convert Hindus…



Tags: India Iraq Lebanon

21 August 2018
Greg Kandra




These two residents a refugee camp in northern Ethiopia are, like so many others, living in exile, waiting for a better life beyond its borders. Read about how the church is seeking to help them in This, Our Exile, in the June 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)



Tags: Ethiopia Refugees

21 August 2018
Greg Kandra




Flood victims are served food inside a temporary relief shelter on 20 August in Cochin, India. The Catholic Church has joined relief efforts as unprecedented floods and landslides continue to wreak havoc in India's Kerala state. (photo: CNS/Sivaram V, Reuters)

More than one million in Kerala have fled to relief camps to escape flooding (The Guardian) More than 1 million people have packed into relief camps to escape the devastating monsoon floods in India’s south-western state of Kerala, where more than 410 people have died. About 50,000 homes have been destroyed, according to one official in Kerala, and people are flocking to the camps as the scale of the desolation is revealed by receding waters. Thousands of army, navy and air force personnel have been deployed across the state to help people stranded in remote and hilly areas…

Syrian refugees in Lebanon left with confusion over return (The Daily Star) A group of Syrians planning to return from the Bekaa to the Damascus countryside before the Eid al Adha holiday said they were left hanging for two days when Lebanese authorities unexpectedly put their returns on hold. But as of Monday evening, a coordinator for the refugees said they had gotten the go-ahead to return…

Hamas: Gaza close to ending blockade, Trump peace plan ‘clinically dead’ (Haaretz) Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday that “we are on the way to ending the blockade on Gaza,” adding “this is the result of your steadfastness and your struggle, and any humanitarian aid to Gaza will not be made at a diplomatic price.”Haniyeh further said that U.S. President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century,” was “clinically dead.” He added that any talks of internal Palestinian reconciliation requires the lifting of sanctions imposed by the Palestinian Authority, and called on the PA to cease security coordination with Israel and end what he termed persecution of Hamas and other resistance groups in the West Bank…

India’s Catholics pay tribute to late former prime minister (Vatican News) India’s Catholic Church has expressed profound sadness at the death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 93. Vajpayee headed India’s government three times: first for just 13 days in 1996, for 13 months in 1998, and then from 1999 to 2004…

Muslims celebrate Eid al Adha in Jerusalem (The Jerusalem Post) Eid al Adha, “The Feast of Sacrifice,” commemorates Abraham’s obedience to God’s command in his willingness to sacrifice his son. The sacrifice of a sheep is central to the holiday given God’s last-minute intervention, offering Abraham an animal instead. Four days before the slaughter of the sheep, it’s forbidden to shave or cut one’s nails, followed by a one-day fast. They break the fast with a meat-based feast, part of the feast is offered to the poor as part of the holiday’s celebration…



Tags: India Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank

20 August 2018
Greg Kandra




Flood victims wait to receive food inside a temporary relief shelter on 20 August in Cochin, India. The Catholic Church has joined relief efforts as unprecedented floods and landslides continue to wreak havoc in India's Kerala state, killing more than 100 people. Read a report from on the ground and learn how you can help here.(photo: CNS/Sivaram V, Reuters)



Tags: India





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