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September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
15 October 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A 7-year-old Syrian girl, nostalgic for home and friends, describes her journey from Syria to the Greek island of Lesbos. Interview courtesy UNICEF. (video: AJ+)

Greek island out of migrant burial space (Vatican Radio) The authorities on the Greek island of Lesbos fear that the island’s main cemetery could be running out of space for the bodies of Middle Eastern migrants who die trying to make the sea crossing from Turkey. So far this year a staggering 450,000 migrants and refugees have crossed from Turkey over to the Greek islands…

ISIS retreating in Syria; Russian jets strike 32 facilities overnight (FARS News) Russian warplanes have destroyed a surface-to-air missile launcher that the ISIS terrorist group previously captured from the Syrian Army, the Russian Defense Ministry reports…

Iraqi forces in major push against ISIS (Daily Star Lebanon) Iraqi forces battled ISIS militants on separate fronts Thursday, ramping up operations to retake Baiji and Ramadi, two of the conflict’s worst flash-points. The Baiji area has seen almost uninterrupted fighting since ISIS swept across Iraq last year, but top officers said Thursday that the Baiji refinery, the country’s largest, was almost secure…

Hindu extremists demand an anti-conversion law in Jharkhand (Fides) Hindu extremist groups have begun a campaign to promote the adoption of a new “anti-conversion law” in the Indian state of Jharkhand, in north central India, after the news of the conversion of 300 tribal people to Christianity in the district of Gumla…

To be Christian in Gaza: Interview with Father Mario da Silva (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) “Our church is the only place where Christians may get to know their identity and that of the Christian culture. At times,” Father da Silva says, “Christians would attend three Masses — Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant — each Sunday…”

Jerusalem grows more grim and polarized with clampdown (New York Times) Israelis were in little mood for browsing after more than two dozen attacks, most by young Palestinians armed with knives, that have killed seven Israelis this month, five of them in Jerusalem. At least 12 suspects in the attacks have been fatally shot by Israeli security forces and citizens at the scenes. Some Palestinians said they were scared of being mistaken for an assailant. New Israeli security measures introduced Wednesday included roadblocks and checkpoints at entrances of some Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and the deployment of reserve soldiers to bolster police forces…



Tags: Syria India Iraq Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank

2 October 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Eritrean children under the care of religious sisters play. Eritrea has only existed as an independent nation for about a quarter of a century, but many of its various cultures and faith communities date back millennia — including the distinctive Christian traditions accounting for roughly half the population. To learn more about Christianity in Eritrea, read Ancient Church in a Young Nation, or our profile of the Eritrean Orthodox Church. (photo: John E. Kozar)



Tags: Children Africa Eritrea

2 October 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Kurdish Syrian migrant plays with a 3-year-old Syrian child refugee on 23 September at a temporary shelter for migrants constructed from shipping containers in Berlin. (photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Middle-class Syrian refugees start back at square one in Germany (Al Jazeera) Many of the thousands of Syrians who have arrived in Germany are from the urban, middle and upper classes. The passage to Europe became a lot cheaper when Hungary and Austria effectively waved refugees through, as the price is partly based on every closed border that must be crossed in stealth, hiding in trucks or bribing officials. But it still costs around 3,000 euros, or $3,375, placing it out of reach for Syria’s poorest…

Syriac Catholic archbishop disturbed by U.S. senator’s remarks (Fides) “U.S. Senator John McCain protested saying that the Russians are not bombing the positions of the Islamic State, but rather the anti-Assad rebels trained by the C.I.A. I find these words are disturbing. They represent a blatant admission that behind the war against Assad there is also the C.I.A.,” said Syriac Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo of Hassake. “Western propaganda keeps talking about moderate rebels, who do not exist. … [U.S. media] protests because the Russians hit the militias of Al Qaeda in Syria. What does it mean? Al Qaeda is now a U.S. ally, just because in Syria it has a different name?” In the interview with Fides, Archbishop Hindo repeats that “the Syrians will decide if and when Assad has to go away, and not the ISIS or the West. And it is certain that if Assad goes away now, Syria will become like Libya…”

Russian warplanes strike deep inside Islamic State’s heartland (Washington Post) Russian warplanes have struck targets deep inside the Islamic State’s heartland province of Raqqa for the first time, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Friday. The strikes were carried out against an Islamic State training camp and a command post near the city of Raqqa, expanding the scope of a three-day old air campaign that had previously focused on attacking rebel groups opposed to President Bashar al Assad…

Indian Jesuit supports campaign to demand food ?for poor (Vatican Radio) A Jesuit priest behind an awareness campaign to ensure the right to food and work for the poor in eastern India’s West Bengal state, has warned that famine will soon set in if the state government does nothing. “We want the government to wake up” and realize that food shortages “will inevitably turn into famine” in the coming months, said Father Jyothi, the convener of the Right to Food and Work network in West Bengal…

Hungary to close border with Croatia (Vatican Radio) Hungary’s government says it is preparing to seal off its border with Croatia for migrants, as it did in September with Serbia, despite earlier pledges it would consult with the international community…



Tags: Syria India Refugees Hungary Germany

1 October 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Nikos Voutsinos, a worker with Caritas, distributes food at a soup kitchen in Athens, Greece. To learn more about the efforts of local churches to help people through years of economic stagnation, read A Greek Tragedy from the Winter 2013 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)



Tags: Relief Greece Economic hardships Hunger

14 August 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrian refugees bed down at parks and mosque courtyards in the Izmir province of Turkey. (photo: Evren Atalay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Syrian refugees in Turkey: ‘Nothing for us here’ (BBC) Around 70,000 Syrian refugees are gathered in the port city of Izmir in Turkey, which has become a hub for human smuggling. Many are hoping to move on into the rest of Europe. Families are forced to live on the streets and say they have no other option but to resort to the sea route…

Iraqi Christians who fled ISIS living in limbo while in exile (Quantara.de) A year after tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled communities overtaken by Islamic State militants, their lives are on hold in exile: they won’t go back to Iraq, saying it’s not safe for Christians, but as refugees they’re barred from working in temporary asylum countries such as Jordan. Expectations of quick resettlement to the West have been dashed…

Seven Assyrian villages in northern Iraq hit by Turkish air strikes (AINA) The German public TV channel ARD reported yesterday that Assyrian villages in the Qandil mountains were hit by the recent Turkish air strikes against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The villages hit by air strikes were Sharanish, Baz, Barwary Bala, Hayes, Dawoodiya and Margerija. “The airplanes are over our heads,” said one displaced Assyrian. “They bomb the area and we do not know where we can escape to…”

Peshmerga ‘ready’ to advance on ISIS (Al Monitor) Fighting continues between Kurdish forces and ISIS, but the two sides seem to be in a holding pattern as the Kurds await commands from Baghdad and coordination with the United States to advance…

Dabke troupes dance on in Gaza (Al Monitor) Every Palestinian wedding in the Gaza Strip is characterized by the folk art of fadous bands, which are male-only groups that perform at wedding ceremonies and whose members play drums and sing traditional songs while marching. Hundreds of unemployed young men are joining these bands to break free from idleness and poverty…



Tags: Syria Iraq Refugees Cultural Identity Turkey

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 India Iraq 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

24 July 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




An Iraqi refugee receives a dental checkup at the Martha Schmouny Clinic in Erbil. Under the guidance of Sister Diana Momeka, the Martha Schmouny Clinic has grown from an overwhelmed, improvised infirmary to a complex of facilities resembling a basic hospital. To learn more about this institution, and other ways sisters are working to help Erbil’s displaced Christians, read Grace — the cover story of our brand-new Summer 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)



Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Sisters Health Care Iraqi Refugees

24 July 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Erbil’s Ain Kawa is a temporary home for many Christian refugees displaced by ISIS. (video: Rudaw)

Christian refugees languish in camps, looking for hope (Rudaw) Marolin Sabri is angry. The 28-year-old mother of three says she is sick and tired of local officials who have made promises to her community of Assyrian Christian refugees that nestles together in a former church in Kirkuk. “I have to laugh. So many people have come from the government saying they will help us, but we are only surviving on the help from NGOs and the church,” she said. Sabri is one of thousands of Christian refugees who were brutally driven from their homes by the Islamic State, or ISIS, and sought safety in cities and towns across the Kurdistan region. Sabri’s home town of Bartella is still held by ISIS, and she wonders if she’ll ever return…

Ecumenical Institute for the Middle East will train young Christians (World Council of Churches) A new initiative called the Ecumenical Institute for the Middle East is “promising and inspiring” in its attempt to train young Christians in ecumenical thought and history, according to the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (W.C.C.). The W.C.C. general secretary met with organizers, students and faculty of the Ecumenical Institute for the Middle East on 20 July during a visit to Beirut, Lebanon…

Turkey bombs ISIS targets in Syria (BBC) Turkish planes have for the first time carried out air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. In the early hours of Friday, police launched raids against ISIS and Kurdish militants across the country, arresting 297 people. The arrests come after the Kurdistan Worker’s Party’s military wing said it killed two Turkish police officers on Wednesday. The group claims the men collaborated with ISIS in the bombing of a Kurdish activists’ group on Monday that killed 32 people…

West Bank village anxiously awaits demolition (Al Jazeera) As Palestinians in the West Bank celebrated the Eid ul Fitr holiday, the end of Ramadan was marred for residents of Khirbet Susiya by fears that demolition orders would be carried out on their homes. In May, Israel’s High Court of Justice lifted a freeze on demolition orders issued against homes in the Palestinian village of Khirbet Susiya, located in the south Hebron Hills. Rights group B’Tselem warned that, due to settler pressure, Israeli authorities had decided to undertake the demolition of these homes even before the court hears a petition by residents scheduled for 3 August…



Tags: Syria Iraq Middle East Christians Turkey West Bank

23 July 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syro-Malabar Catholic Sisters speak with neighborhood women outside their convent in east Delhi’s Mandawali area in India. To learn more about the work of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in this and the surrounding areas, read Caste Aside, from the Summer 2014 edition of ONE. (photo: John Mathew)



Tags: India Sisters Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Women





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