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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
6 November 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Abu and Um Sabah, who fled ISIS in August, stand outside their tent in a park in Ain Kawa, Iraq. (photo: CNS/Dale Gavlak)

Chaldean diocese of Erbil conducts census of refugees from Nineveh (Fides) There are more than 10,000 Christian families who fled Mosul and the cities of the Nineveh Plain who have found refuge in the suburbs of Erbil and in other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Chaldean Eparchy of Erbil has been collecting statistics on this segment of refugees to better identify needs…

Gaza doctors demand Egypt open Rafah crossing (Daily Star Lebanon) Dozens of Palestinian doctors and patients held a sit-in at the Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza Thursday, demanding Egypt reopen the frontier to allow people out for medical treatment. The crossing, Gaza’s only gateway to the world which is not controlled by Israel, has been closed since 25 October following a deadly suicide bombing in northern Sinai which killed 30 Egyptian soldiers…

Expulsion from Rafah threatens war with the tribes (Al Akhbar) Along the border with the Gaza Strip, the Engineer Corps of the Egyptian army is carrying out ground clearing operations following the demolition of hastily evacuated citizens’ homes, in preparation for creating a buffer zone with the Strip. Masad Abu Fajr, an expert on tribal affairs from Sinai, considers the expulsion of the residents to be tantamount to a declaration of war by the Egyptian state against the tribes of Sinai…

Memories of war haunt Gaza’s doctors (Al Monitor) “It’s pure madness.” This was how the head of the reception department at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, Ayman al-Sahbani, described the situation experienced by the doctors who dealt with the thousands of wounded during the 50-day Israeli war on the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the health sector has suffered and was still suffering from numerous crises, including shortages of medicine and fuel and delayed salaries for doctors…



Tags: Iraq Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank Iraqi Christians Iraqi Refugees

5 November 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 11 October photo, a man waits in a tent for the opening of a center to help people displaced by fighting in eastern Ukraine. (photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

In pictures: Ukraine’s exposed war-displaced (Al Jazeera) With freezing temperatures creeping over eastern Ukraine, thousands of people in Donetsk find themselves struggling to survive what is expected to be a harsh winter in a time of war…

Chaldean patriarch: Iraqi Christians due more government support (AINA) The Iraq government has given Christian leaders a commitment that it will do more to protect their dwindling followers in strife-torn areas terrorized by the group calling itself the Islamic State…

Life in Raqqa under Islamic State (Al Monitor) Behind the walls of the de facto Islamic State, life in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa goes on. The city, once the summer capital of the Abbasid dynasty, has become a fundamentalist metropolis, where thousands of Islamic State fighters, families, immigrants and locals live under the sort of tailored circumstances that could only fit the society created by its self-appointed caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi…

Coptic pope links extremist groups to West (Fides) Extremist groups upsetting the geopolitics of the Middle East are a product of strategies pursued in the West, according to Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II…



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Iraqi Christians Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II

30 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobane after an airstrike on 27 October near the Mursitpinar border crossing in Turkey. According to a Syrian activist group, the death toll has reached 815 during 40 days of fighting in and around the Syrian town. (photo: Kutluhan Cucel/Getty Images)

Syrian bishops: If the world wants to help us, stop sending us weapons! (Fides) At their autumn assembly, the Catholic bishops of Syria issued a statement to the international community, once again urging an end to the arms trade fueling the ongoing war. The meeting was held in Damascus on Tuesday and Wednesday, 28-29 October, and included Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch; 11 Catholic bishops from 6 different churches; Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio; Msgr. Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum…

Syria: Neighbors straining under refugee crisis (Vatican Radio) The director of the United Nations humanitarian operations is warning that some of Syria’s neighbors are at their “breaking point” — caught between a sense of duty to keep their borders open to refugees and a responsibility to their own citizens. The director of the Operational Division at the U.N. Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, John Ging, said Wednesday that Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan likely will have the refugees “for many years to come…”

Iraqi Kurdish forces enter besieged Kobane to battle Islamic State (Los Angeles Times) The first contingent of Iraqi Kurdish fighters crossed the Turkish border and arrived in the besieged Syrian city of Kobane on Thursday, aiming to help fellow Kurds fight off the militants of the Islamic State, Syrian activists said. Kobane, just yards from the Turkish frontier, has become an emblem of the West’s confrontation with the Islamic State, which has seized control of a large swath of Syria and Iraq…

Looters raid Jordanian crypts in search of gold, jewels and artifacts (Washington Post) In Jordan, there is a long tradition of “treasure hunting.” But the gold fever driving a surge in tomb-raiding in the Hashemite Kingdom is the worst in years. No one knows exactly how they started, but rumors have been flying from rough kebab shops to fancy dinner parties — of buried treasure, of Ottoman gold and Byzantine jewels, of jars heavy with Roman coins. It sounds nutty. But it is destroying Jordan’s rich cultural heritage, piece by piece, one looted Bronze-era funerary relic at a time…

Pope Tawadros II received by Patriarch Kirill (Coptic Orthodox Church UK) Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, accompanied by a papal delegation, was received by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at the Russian Patriarchate on 29 October 2014. The visit, that included a formal meeting of delegations, followed by lunch, marks 26 years since the most recent visit of the last patriarch of Alexandria, the late Pope Shenouda III…



Tags: Syria Jordan Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II Patriarch Kirill Syrian Catholic

29 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Medical staff provide checkups for children brought by the Dominican Sisters to a
CNEWA-supported clinic in Ain Kawa, Iraqi Kurdistan. (photo: Don Duncan)


Over the weekend, Michel Constantin, CNEWA’s regional director for Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, submitted a brief report on the needs of refugee children in Iraq:

CNEWA has been in continuous contact with the local church in Erbil and with the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, showing solidarity and providing support to ease the suffering of the refugees and the displaced — including religious minorities such as Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims.

In partnership with the sisters, CNEWA is equipping a new dispensary and a new center for people with special needs, and providing children with clothing, milk and diapers.

Presently, there are 120,000 Christian refugees in Erbil and other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, living in schools, churches, monasteries and parks after being forced from their homes in Mosul and other cities of the Nineveh Plain by forces of the Islamic State.

As the needs continue to mount, the condition is continuing to deteriorate for these internally displaced people. Although food and other essential items are being provided through local and international charities, CNEWA is the only organization addressing the need for milk for infants and children and the provision of diapers for babies. Further, thousands of refugees will soon have to endure harsh winter conditions. The climate in Kurdistan is arid, with a temperature that reaches around 120 degrees in summer and falls below freezing in winter.

The 57 Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, who were displaced from Qaraqosh, have been very active in providing support and relief work to the displaced. They have identified 1,794 displaced Christian families in Ain Kawa as those most in need among the displaced.

Among these families, around 1,922 babies urgently need milk, diapers and winter clothing.

CNEWA staff will revisit northern Iraq in mid-November to accompany suffering children and respond to some of their needs. Despite of the efforts of many charity organizations to provide emergency aid, massive efforts are still needed.

To help provide these critical resources to those most in need, click here. Please keep the children of Iraq in your prayers.

(photo: Don Duncan)



Tags: Iraq Children Iraqi Christians Iraqi Refugees Relief

8 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Antonina Harutinian sits in her domik home in, Gyumri, Armenia. Though meant to be temporary shelters for those displaced by the 1988 earthquake, the tiny domik structures remain the only home many Armenians have known in the decades since. To read more about challenges facing Armenian pensioners, read Shaken by the Earthquake of Life, in the Summer 2014 issue of ONE. (photo: Nazik Armenakyan)



Tags: Armenia Poor/Poverty Caring for the Elderly Pensioners

8 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobane after an air strike, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing near Suruç, Turkey, on 4 October. (photo: Stringer/Getty Images)

Syrian Kurds say airstrikes push ISIS back from Kobane (Daily Star Lebanon) U.S.-led air strikes Wednesday pushed ISIS fighters back to the edges of the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani, which they had appeared set to seize after a three-week assault, local officials said. The town has drawn international attention since the Islamists’ advance drove 180,000 of the area’s mostly Kurdish inhabitants to flee into adjoining Turkey. Ankara has infuriated its own restive Kurdish minority and its NATO partners in Washington by refusing to intervene…

Air strikes leave 65 civilians dead in Iraq’s Anbar (Fars News) A large number of Iraqi civilians were killed during the massive air strikes launched by the warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition in Anbar province on Monday. A military source told National Iraqi news agency that the strikes on ISIS in the city of Ramadi left 65 civilians dead…

More than 300 killed in Ukraine since cease-fire (Al Jazeera) At least 331 people have been killed in clashes in eastern Ukraine since Kiev and Russian-backed rebels signed agreements to enact a cease-fire and create a demilitarized buffer zone last month, the United Nations said Wednesday. Hostilities persist in the main rebel-held city of Donetsk, as well as around the towns of Debaltseve and Schastye…

The Franciscan priest kidnapped after he had appealed to court (Fides) The Rev. Hanna Jallouf, O.F.M., was kidnapped along with his parishioners after his recent visit to the Islamic Court, the body set up to administer justice according to Islamic law in the areas not controlled by the Syrian government. He had gone to report harassment and abuse the convent had suffered in recent weeks by the brigades of Islamists who control the area…

Greek Orthodox denounce Israeli law on Aramaic Christians as divisive (Ecumenical News) The Greek Orthodox Christian Patriarchate in east Jerusalem has slammed an Israeli law recognizing Aramaic Christians as a nationality, describing it as an attempt to divide the Palestinian minority. The Greek Orthodox Church said in a statement that the law, which separates Christians from Arabs, would split minorities living in Israel, eventually weakening Palestinians, reported The Jerusalem Post. “Palestinian Christians are an important part of the Arab and Palestinian nations; we are proud of the Aramaic identity as it reflects history and culture shaped by Arab Muslims and Christians,” the report quoted Christian Orthodox Church spokesperson Father Issa Musleh as saying…

Pope: Divisions between Christians are wounds in the church (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed for Christian unity on Wednesday at his weekly General Audience. Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the pope invited those present to ask themselves: “Are we resigned, or even indifferent to this division? Or do we firmly believe that we can and we must walk together towards reconciliation and full communion?” Divisions between Christians — he continued — wound the church and wound Christ…



Tags: Syria Ukraine Israel Violence against Christians Christian Unity

7 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A destroyed car sits outside a school in Homs, Syria. Two car bombs exploded near the school on 1 October, killing at least 47 students. (photo: CNS/courtesy Jesuit Refugee Service)

Jesuit based in Syria urges caution as Canada debates military action (Catholic Register) As Canada debated joining the United States and other nations in military intervention to stop Islamic State militants, a Jesuit priest based in Syria urged caution and called for renewed efforts to find peace. “I am not a political man,” said the Jesuit Rev. Ziad Hilal, pastor of Holy Savior Parish in Homs and project manager for Jesuit Refugee Service. “What I want to say, the Syrian people need peace and security…”

Syrian priest and Christians kidnapped by fighters linked to Al Nusra (Fides) The Franciscan Fathers of the Custody of the Holy Land confirm that the Rev. Hanna Jallouf, O.F.M., parish priest in Knayeh, was taken by some brigades linked to Al Nusra Front on 5 October. Along with Father Hanna, several men of the Christian village were also taken. The number of those who were kidnapped is not specified…

Syria border town ‘about to fall’ as hundreds dead (Daily Star Lebanon) Jihadists are on the verge of seizing the key Syrian border town of Kobane, Turkey warned Tuesday after a three-week assault by ISIS that has left hundreds reported dead…

Islamic State using water as a weapon in Iraq (Washington Post) The Islamic State militants who have rampaged across northern Iraq are increasingly using water as a weapon, cutting off supplies to villages resisting their rule and pressing to expand their control over the country’s water infrastructure. The threat from the jihadists is so critical that U.S. forces are bombing the militants close to both the Mosul and Haditha dams — Iraq’s largest — on a near-daily basis. But the radical Islamists continue to menace both facilities…

Chaldean bishop: ‘Our people have been abandoned’ (Aid to the Church in Need) The Government of Iraq is guilty of not helping Christians desperate to flee Islamic State militia, according to a leading Catholic bishop from the country. Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said Iraq’s national government in Baghdad “has done nothing, absolutely nothing” for 120,000 Christians seeking sanctuary away from areas terrorized by the extremists…

Pope Francis convokes consistory on Middle East (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday convoked a consistory of cardinals and patriarchs to discuss the situation facing Christians in the Middle East. The consistory will take place in the Vatican on 20 October…

‘What truce?’ ask residents of Donetsk, where battles continue to rage (Euronews) A ceasefire may still be officially in place in eastern Ukraine, but try telling that to the owners of burning homes in Donetsk. Battles are raging unabated between Ukrainian forces and separatist fighters, mainly around the city’s airport. And nearby neighborhoods are often caught in the crossfire…



Tags: Syria Iraq Pope Francis Ukraine Iraqi Christians

6 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Men gather for class in Navachaithanya, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center established in 1991 by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Irinjalakuda, in Kerala. (photo: Cody Christopulos)

Al Jazeera recently published this video, calling attention to Kerala’s high rates of alcohol abuse:



In the July 2005 issue of ONE, we shined a spotlight on this issue, and on one institution the Syro-Malabar Church created to help address this problem:

Kerala has the highest consumption of alcohol per capita in the country (about 20 percent of Indians drink alcohol, and of that number 5 percent are alcoholics, reported The Hindustan Times last year). Each year, the state consumes 2.2 gallons of liquor per capita, about three times the national rate, according to India’s Outlook magazine.

“In Kerala, people tend to start drinking once they are 18 years old, which is the legal age for being able to purchase liquor,” said Father Titus Kattuparambil, a Syro-Malabar priest of the Eparchy of Irinjalakuda and assistant director of Navachaithanya.

“Among the bad cases, you’ll see people who earn about three dollars a day, and they’ll blow two dollars of that on alcohol.”

Both national and local governments have acknowledged the problem of alcoholism, and alcohol advertising is illegal. Kerala’s state government also funds several detoxification centers at public hospitals. But at the same time, Father Titus pointed out, the government in Kerala — as in other Indian states — draws revenue from liquor taxes and therefore has a fiscal disincentive to curb alcohol consumption.

Nonetheless, in 1996 the state government banned the consumption of arrack, a potent liquor made from fermented palm sap (and not to be confused with the arak liquor of the Arab world). The government thought the ban on arrack, which is much stronger than toddy, would help curb alcoholism. The prohibition, however, only encouraged illegal traffic and production. Hundreds of Keralites have been killed or blinded from drinking bad batches of home-brewed arrack. And alcohol consumption continues to rise.

It has largely been left to religious organizations and NGOs to treat Kerala’s alcoholics.

“Alcohol has always been a problem here, it’s not just recently,” said Syro-Malabar Bishop James Pazhayattil of the Eparchy of Irinjalakuda. “Several years ago, people approached me about the problem in our community and we started Navachaithanya.” Since then, the center has treated more than 8,000 men for alcoholism or drug addiction, though alcohol is by far the area’s larger problem.

Read the rest here.



Tags: India Kerala Health Care Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Alcoholism

6 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this June photo, Islamic State fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The United Nations reported that the Islamic State has committed a “staggering array” of human rights abuses in Iraq, causing many in Mosul to flee. (photo: CNS/Reuters)

Mosul residents fear U.S. airstrikes and sectarian revenge (Christian Science Monitor) Four months after a band of Sunni jihadists captured their city with shocking ease, residents of Mosul are bracing for possible United States-led airstrikes. As the U.S. and its allies have stepped up a bombing campaign in Iraq against the Islamic State, Sunni residents of Mosul say militants have lowered their profile and switched up tactics…

Most ISIS ammunition from U.S. and China (New York Times) In its campaign across northern Syria and Iraq, the jihadist group Islamic State has been using ammunition from the United States and other countries that have been supporting the regional security forces fighting the group, according to new field data gathered by a private arms-tracking organization. This suggests that ammunition transferred into Syria and Iraq to help stabilize governments has instead passed from the governments to the jihadists, helping to fuel the Islamic State’s rise and persistent combat power…

Kurds repel attack on Syrian town (Daily Star Lebanon) Kurdish forces defending a Syrian town near the Turkish border clashed with the Islamic State Monday after repelling a wide-ranging militant assault the day before in battles that left dozens dead on both sides…

Hezbollah pushes back Syrian militant offensive in Bekaa (Yahoo! News) At least 16 insurgents from Al Qaeda’s Syrian wing, Al Nusra Front, were killed in clashes with Shiite group Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on Sunday after launching a major offensive, a source close to Hezbollah said…

Abbas pushes U.N. statehood plan forward (Al Monitor) Palestinians seek to restart negotiations with Israel, on equal footing. “Permanent status negotiations between the state of Palestine and the state of Israel is what we want to see in 2015,” said a senior political Palestinian source in Ramallah. The Palestinian Authority will move forward on four tracks toward a “make it or break it” year…

Many killed as rebels storm Ukraine’s Donetsk airport (Vatican Radio) At least some 12 pro-Russian rebels have reportedly been killed in fighting around the airport of Ukraine’s eastern city of Donetsk. Pro-Russian rebels could be seen dragging the body of a fellow fighter to a truck in one of the bloodiest clashes since a ceasefire was agreed last month…



Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Ukraine Palestine

3 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In Gangapar, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, a brick house protects the children of Jasvir Singh from floods. The children attend a school run by the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Bijnor and funded by CNEWA. To read more about life in Gangapar, read Caste Aside, published in the Summer 2014 issue of ONE. (photo: John Mathew)



Tags: India Children Indian Christians Indian Catholics Catholic education





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