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Current Issue
Summer, 2016
Volume 42, Number 2
  
29 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrian army soldiers patrol area on the outskirts of Aleppo on 28 July. (photo: AFP/Getty images)

Airstrikes kill dozens in Syria (AP) U.S.-led coalition airstrikes targeting a village in northern Syria held by Islamic State killed 28 civilians, including seven children, Syrian activists said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition aircraft struck the village of Al-Ghandour on Thursday night...

Trapped, under attack in Aleppo (Doctors Without Borders) The siege on east Aleppo has left an estimated 250,000 people trapped and struggling to survive, with the only road into non-government held areas cut off. Now the population, and crucially the war-wounded and seriously ill, have no way out, while vital food and medical supplies cannot get in. This siege has added more to the already woeful numbers of people living in besieged areas in Syria...

Turkey targets media in crackdown (Time) In recent days the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued orders shutting down 131 media organizations, and issued arrest warrants for at least 89 journalists and other media personnel over alleged ties to the coup plot...

Copts look to new law to end religious discrimination (AFP) Egypt’s Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian minority, have long struggled to obtain official permission to build churches. They are now hoping a new law on building houses of worship — both mosques and churches — will curb discrimination against them...

Patriarch calls political paralysis in Lebanon “shameful” (Fides) “It is shameful that the Lebanese people should have to wait for years while other countries in the region choose who shall be the new President of their country/” This is how Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Rai stigmatized yet again the institutional paralysis and cross vetoes between the national political forces and foreign interference which for more than two years has prevented the election of a new head of state for Lebanon, an institutional post which Lebanon’s complex system reserves for a Maronite Christian...

New app connects Russian Orthodox Church with believers (BBC) The Russian Orthodox Church is to launch a new messaging app in order to help priests to keep in touch with believers. It’s being made by the same designers behind the Church’s dedicated social network, Elitsy, which was launched in 2014. The app, which is currently in development, will “satisfy the needs of the faithful for interaction and continuous contact between parishioners and the Church,” according to Elitsy’s press service, cited by Tass news agency. It adds that the app has the blessing of the Church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill...



28 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis speaks to journalists aboard his flight from Rome to Krakow, Poland, 27 July. The pope is attending World Youth Day in Krakow. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope erects new eparchy in Great Britain (Vatican Radio) The Holy Father on Thursday, has erected the Eparchy of Great Britain of the Syro-Malabar Church based in Preston and has appointed the Rev. Joseph (Benny Mathew) Srampickal, a member of the clergy of the Eparchy of Palai, until now Vice-Rector of the Collegio De Propaganda Fide in Rome, as the first bishop of the Eparchy...

Pope Francis: ‘The world is at war’ (CNS) The world, not religion, is waging a war in pieces, Pope Francis said. While it “is not at as organic” as past world wars, “it is organized and it is war,” the pope told journalists 27 July on his flight to Krakow. “Someone may think that I am speaking about a war of religions. No, all religions want peace. Others want war,” the pope said. He spoke one day after the murder of a priest during Mass in a Catholic church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France. Two men, armed with knives, entered the church during Mass. The attackers murdered 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel, slitting his throat...

Patriarch: displaced Iraqi Catholics losing hope (Crux) The displaced Syriac Catholics of the Iraqi areas of Nineveh and Mosul are fast losing hope that they will ever return home, according to their spiritual leader, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan. Some 100,000 Iraqi Christians were forced to flee to the Kurdistan region in the north in the summer of 2014, where they are languishing in expectation of a return that never comes. In an interview with Crux, the Patriarch — spiritual shepherd to some 200,000 Syriac Catholics worldwide — shared something of the despair of his people at what they regard as the foot-dragging of the western nations...

Russia to open ‘exit corridors’ from Aleppo (BBC) Corridors are to open to allow unarmed rebels and civilians to leave besieged areas of the Syrian city of Aleppo, Russia — Syria’s key ally — has said. Three routes would be opened and a fourth for armed rebels, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said. Syria’s president has also offered an amnesty for rebels laying down arms and surrendering within three months...

Kerala church allows cremation for priests (The Times of India) Across the country, and particularly in Mumbai, the Christian community has been clamoring for more burial grounds. Over the past three years, large morchas were led through civic wards from Goregaon to Dahisar where there is a vast population of Catholics. Now this nationwide shortage of space for burial has prompted the Mar Thoma Church which is headquartered in Kerala to allow cremation for its clergymen. Earlier, laypersons alone could opt for cremation after securing written permission from their bishop. Now that privilege has been extended to priests as well...

Could Gaza become a tourism hub? (The Guardian) Somehow, elements of another Gaza have survived what has been — literally and metaphorically — its darkest decade: stylish, civilised, worthy of a history stretching back five millennia. While few other cities have been more fought over or occupied — by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, Byzantines, Abbasids, Crusaders, Mamluks, Turks, British, Egypt again and Israel — there have also been long periods when Gaza was a centre of culture and learning, as well as a flourishing port and trading center...



27 July 2016
Greg Kandra




A policeman reacts as he secures a position in front of city hall after two assailants killed 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel and took five people hostage during a weekday morning Mass at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France, near Rouen on 26 July.
(photo: CNS/Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)


Muslims denounce attack on priest in French church (The Local) France’s Muslim leaders have denounced Tuesday’s apparent terror attack at a church, and called for the country’s Muslims to band together in support. The nationwide French Council of the Muslim Faith (Conseil français du culte musulman or CFCM) denounced the attack as a “terrifying and horrifying act” and expressing its solidarity with “all Catholics of France...”

French president calls Pope Francis after priest is killed (Vatican Radio) French president Francois Hollande telephoned Pope Francis on Tuesday following the death of the elderly priest The Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, who was killed when two Islamic assailants entered his Church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray as he was celebrating Mass. Hollande said “that when a priest is attacked, all of France is wounded,” according to a statement. He assured the Pope that everything would be done to protect Churches and places of worship...

Dozens dead in Syrian bomb blast (The Guardian) A twin bombing has struck a crowd in a predominantly Kurdish town in northern Syria, killing 44 people and wounding dozens more, Syria’s state-run news agency and Kurdish media have reported. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack...

Thousands of Russian Orthodox gather in Kiev despite threats (AP) Thousands of Russian Orthodox Christian pilgrims have reached the center of Ukraine’s capital to finish their procession to the city’s most revered monastery after their march was disrupted on Tuesday...

For many Christians in the Middle East, intimidation or worse (The Wall Street Journal) The attack on a French church signals the arrival in Europe of a type of intimidation long familiar to Christians in the Middle East, whether from religious extremists, other armed groups or even secular governments. In areas of Syria and Iraq under its control, Islamic State has seized churches, dismantling crucifixes and vandalizing paintings depicting scenes out of the Bible — considered to be idolatry in their hard-line interpretation of Islam. Many Christians flee when the militants sweep their areas; thousands escaped from northern Iraq when Islamic State took over in summer 2014...

Phoenix eparchy’s new bishop says world needs ‘witness of Christ’s unconditional mercy’ (CNS) n a liturgy packed with rich symbolism and ancient tradition, the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Eparchy of Phoenix celebrated the enthronement of Bishop John S. Pazak as its fifth bishop. Archbishop William C. Skurla of the Byzantine Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, and a former bishop of the Phoenix-based eparchy, prayed the words of enthronement over the new bishop during a Divine Liturgy that took place at St. Helen Catholic Church in Glendale 20 July. The Byzantine Catholic Church is one of the Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with Rome...



26 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrians carry a wounded man away from the rubble of a building that was destroyed during a barrel bomb attack on 26 July 2016. Syrian government forces seized a rebel-held neighborhood on the northwest outskirts of Aleppo, tightening their siege of the opposition-controlled parts of the city, a monitor said. (photo: Karam Al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian troops tighten hold on Aleppo (AP) Syrian government forces on Tuesday captured new ground on the northwestern edge of the city of Aleppo, tightening the siege on rebel-held parts of the metropolis where some 300,000 people live, activists said. The Syrian army also called on the opposition fighters to drop their weapons and give themselves up to authorities...

Yazidis living in fear on Mt. Sinjar (Al Jazeera) Thousands of Yazidis who fled ISIS are living in a sprawling mass of tents made or amended with old tarps, carpets, blankets, wood and corrugated iron in the valleys below the peak. Outside many are in the vehicles their owners escaped in: ubiquitous Opel saloons, rusted tractors, and battered mopeds. Others still litter the steep road leading up from the town’s northern edge, abandoned when they could go no further...

Report says detainees in Turkey subjected to torture, rape (NPR) Turkey has detained thousands of people in the wake of a failed coup attempt earlier this month. Now, Amnesty International reports that it has evidence that some detainees in Istanbul and the capital Ankara have been subjected to torture and rape...

Indian author who put ‘God’ in book title attacked in Kerala (The Times of India) Writer PJimshar (26), whose debut collection of short stories titled ‘Padachonte Chitrapradarshanam’ is scheduled to be released on 5 August, was badly beaten up by four unidentified people here on Sunday night. He has been admitted to the hospital. ‘Padachon’ is colloquially used to refer to ‘god, the creator,’ and the writer had received threat calls and messages on WhatsApp ever since he announced his new book...

Bishop speaks out against attacks on Copts (Independent Catholic News) Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, issued a statement on 25 July concerning increased attacks against Egypt’s Christian community...

Ethiopia becomes tourist destination (CNN) “Tourism was on the back burner for a long time,” says Solomon Tadesse, CEO of the Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO). “The country was going through major changes and the government’s priorities were health, education, communication.” Not to mention drought, famine and revolution. “There were fundamental reasons why tourism infrastructure was not in place.” According to Tadesse, the government finally decided in 2013 that tourism could generate jobs, income and wealth just like any other economic sector...



25 July 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, the Vatican’s Secretary of State expresses his concern for Christians in Turkey, where a failed coup attempt has resulted in a three-month state of emergency and a government crackdown on educational and health-care institutions. (video: Rome Reports)

Turkey seizes more than 2,200 institutions in crackdown (The Washington Post) In a new tactic against suspected coup plotters, Turkey on Saturday announced it had seized more than 2,250 social, educational or health-care institutions and facilities that it claims pose a threat to national security...

Doctors raise concern over Internet restrictions in Ethiopia (Fides) “Since the Ethiopian government restricted access to the Internet it has become impossible for us to obtain scientific information on the web or discuss cases of serious illnesses which we are unable to manage.” This testimony comes from a Spanish pediatrician coordinator of a hospital for children in Meki, Oromia, Ethiopia...

Report: 250,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are unable to attend school (Fides) More than half the 500,000 school-age refugee children from Syria, registered in Lebanon cannot attend school because of limited availability of resources and strict Lebanese government residence policies. This was reported by Human Rights Watch in a recent survey. The same report also highlighted positive steps towards giving access to free schooling for Syrian children refugees...

Families of Gaza war victims protest lack of aid (Al Jazeera) Hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza have taken to the streets this month — some even setting up tents to sleep in the protest camp overnight — to demand payment from the Palestinian Authority (PA). Amid a dire economic crisis in the Gaza Strip, thousands of residents have not received their monthly allowances from the PA, making it increasingly difficult for them to survive...

ISIS slaughter moves singer to focus on refugees (Catholic Register) It was February 2015 and American singer-songwriter Audrey Assad was working with fellow Catholic artist Matt Maher on his new album. She was sitting in Maher’s backyard when she came across the shocking video online. Twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christian men were about to be beheaded by the Islamic State on a Libyan beach. Assad watched in horror as the men whispered prayers in Arabic. “I watched most of the video and I was horrified,” Assad told The Catholic Register. “I just remember feeling this overwhelming emotion and this need to make something good out of that feeling...”



22 July 2016
Greg Kandra




This image from May 2015 shows the interior of the damaged Immaculate Conception Church in Suez, Egypt. Vatican Radio reports today on the dramatic rise in attacks on Christians in Egypt.
(photo: John E. Kozar)


Bishop in Turkey: Catholics watchful during crackdown after failed coup (CNS) Bishop Ruben Tierrablanca Gonzalez, apostolic vicar of Istanbul, said Catholics were following closely the government crackdown that followed an attempted coup. He told Catholic News Service 21 July there had been no news of detentions or injuries among local Catholics, or reports of restrictions on church life. He said most religious leaders had “stood with the civil community against violence and injustice” in the wake of the failed coup...

Attacks on Christians in Egypt on the rise (Vatican Radio) Egypt has seen a sharp rise in sectarian violence, with particular emphasis on Christians. This week a Christian man was stabbed to death by a mob of Muslim men, causing tensions to rise within the Christian community which has seen several attacks on both men and women in the last month alone. Vatican Radio’s Georgia Gogarty spoke with Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s (CSW) Egypt Advocacy Officer, to find out why there has been a sudden spike in violence, and why little is being done to resolve it...

Church joins project to resettle Syrian refugees (CNS) The Catholic Church in England and Wales has joined a government project to resettle an estimated 20,000 refugees from the Syrian war. A parish in the Diocese of Salford will be the first to welcome a family from a refugee camp in the Middle East as part of a sponsorship plan, which involves welcoming and helping to rehabilitate families of Syrian refugees...

Syrian refugees suffering on Jordan’s border (Al Jazeera) After a suicide car bomb at the remote Rukban border crossing in northeastern Jordan in late June, the government declared the area a closed military zone. It barred access even for the UN and aid agencies that have provided food, water, and medical care to the refugees. More than a dozen newborn infants and elderly have since died in the camp, according to activists. They say the bodies are buried near the road to Damascus...

Report: both sides in Ukraine conflict using secret detention and torture (Amnesty International) Both the Ukrainian government authorities and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine are holding civilians in prolonged arbitrary and sometimes secret detention and torturing them, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint report released today. The report “‘You Don’t Exist.’ Arbitrary Detentions, Enforced Disappearances, and Torture in Eastern Ukraine,” is based on interviews with 40 victims of abuses, their family members, witnesses, victims’ lawyers and other sources...

Syrian children hold Pokemon photos praying ‘world will find them’ (The Telegraph) Children in war-torn Syria have been pictured holding up photos of Pokémon in a ‘plea to the world to come to their rescue’. The Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office shared photos of the children which have been widely circulated on social media...



21 July 2016
Greg Kandra




A mother and her daughter mourn after the airstrikes carried out by Russian and Syrian war planes targeted a school, in which refugees had taken shelter, in Aleppo, Syria, on 21 July 2016. The city has been under siege for 13 consecutive days.
(photo: Ibrahim Ebu Leys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Half a million people trapped in Aleppo (Al Monitor) The city of Aleppo has been under siege for 13 consecutive days. The Syrian regime imposed the blockade on the areas under the control of the Syrian opposition after government forces took over strategic areas on 7 July in al-Mallah region in northern Aleppo province. As a result, the regime forces were able to closely monitor Castello Road, the only road leading to the northern and western countryside of Aleppo and the sole humanitarian route that allows the daily passage of merchandise and food from Aleppo’s countryside and from the Turkish-Syrian border areas to the neighborhoods in Aleppo that are in the grip of the armed opposition...

Turkey declares three-month state of emergency (CNN) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the nation is imposing a three-month state of emergency in the aftermath of last week’s bloody coup attempt. Erdogan met Wednesday with his national security council and council of ministers, the latter of which approved the state of emergency recommendation...

Report: churches targeted during attempted coup in Turkey (Pakistan Christian Post) Two churches in cities in eastern Turkey infamous as the sites of historic killings of Christians were vandalized during the attempted coup on 15 July, reports Middle East Concern...

Sectarian clashes in Minya, Egypt (Fides) Four Christian Copts and five Muslims were injured in sectarian clashes which broke out in recent days in the village of Edmo, located in the governorate of Minya in Upper Egypt. After the clashes, the police have increased the level of control in the village, with the intent to prevent new clashes...

The dangerous route of Ethiopian migrants (The New Yorker) The modern flow of people to the Middle East waxes and wanes as wars and crises afflict the countries surrounding Djibouti. Over the past decade, though, the number of migrant arrivals in Yemen from the Horn of Africa has increased more than threefold, to about ninety-two thousand last year...

Canadian Church seeks open door for immigration (Catholic Register) As Canada launches another overhaul of immigration policy, the Church has an interest in maintaining open doors, whether it’s to refugees, regular immigrants or temporary foreign workers. “We’re a country of immigrants and we’re a Church of immigrants,” said Canadian Church historian the Rev. Terry Fay, author of New Faces of Canadian Catholics: The Asians. “If we can think of ourselves as any other type of Church, we’re not. We’re not establishment people. We’re a Church of immigrants...”

Order of Holy Sepulchre launches new website (Fides) The initiatives and projects implemented and supported especially in Holy Land by the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre now have a new instrument in order to be known throughout the world: the new international Web site of the Equestrian Order www.oessh.va, inaugurated recently by Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. The site is already available in five languages...



20 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Family members of detained Turkish soldiers wait in front of the Istanbul Justice Palace on 20 July, following the failed military coup attempt of 15 July. The government has launched a massive crackdown on those believed to be connected to the coup attempt.
(photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)


Thousands suspended, fired after failed coup in Turkey (CNN) Turkey has now fired or suspended about 50,000 people after a failed coup over the weekend as it intensifies its vast purge — battering the country’s security forces and many of its democratic institutions...

Ukraine journalist killed in car bombing (The Guardian) A prominent journalist working for a Ukrainian online investigative newspaper has been killed by a car bomb in central Kiev. Pavel Sheremet, who wrote for Ukrayinska Pravda, was driving to work in the car of the newspaper’s owner on Wednesday morning when it was blown up, an adviser to the interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, said...

Indian Christians step up caste protests (Episcopal News Service) Churches throughout India are stepping up protests against the country’s discriminatory caste system which disadvantages Dalit Christians and Muslims. The caste system is a Hindu-based status system that grades different groups of people on a social scale. The National Council of Churches in India have designated a national day of protest on 10 August “to raise our protest to the continual negligence of the government to the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians in the country...”

Gaza couples struggle with financial difficulties (Mondoweiss.net) Gaza’s crippled economy leaves more and more graduates unemployed and incapable of achieving economic independence, which in turn prevents them from forming secure and stable marriages. Every year, 32,000 students graduate from Gaza schools, only to face bleak prospects of ever finding jobs, leaving the Gaza Strip with soaring unemployment rates that reach up to 70 percent among youth. In response, some local and foreign charities launched programs to aid in mitigating the social crisis resulting from the suffocating Israeli restrictions...

Photo of kidnapped priest posted on Facebook (Fides) “We have no further news, and today, with technical means available, everything is possible in this field. But the photo may be authentic. There are those who, however believe that father Tom is still alive. And I also think he is alive.” This is how Bishop Paul Hinder, OFMCap, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, comments on the publication of the photo which appeared on Father Tom Uzhunnalil’s Facebook account. The Indian priest was kidnapped on 4 March in Aden by terrorist commandos who stormed a nursing home, slaughtering four Missionaries of Charity, along with 12 other people...

Russian Orthodox Church Synod rejects status of Crete Council (Interfax) The Council, which took place in Crete on 20-25 June cannot be regarded as pan-Orthodox, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said in Moscow on Friday. “The Holy Synod determined that the Council, which took place in Crete, cannot be regarded as pan-Orthodox, and the documents it approved as expressing a pan-Orthodox consensus,” said the head of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations Vladimir Legoyda, commenting on the results of a Synod meeting...

Indian archdiocese welcomes African migrants (Vatican Radio) The Archdiocese of Bangalore in Karnataka welcomed migrants from Africa with open arms at the St. Josephs Boys School, where the Archdiocesan Commission for Migrants organised an event just for them on 17 July. Msgr. Bernard Moras, archbishop of Bangalore, told AsiaNews that “the Jubilee of Mercy provided the impetus for the meeting. It is important to take care of the pastoral needs of migrants and dedicate ourselves to their well-being...”



19 July 2016
Greg Kandra




In this photograph from last month, Syrian Kurdish women mourn during the funeral of eight members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who died during an assault against ISIS in the town of Manbij. A monitoring group says US-backed forces led airstrikes against the town Tuesday, killing at least 56 civilians. (photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)

Airstrikes kill 56 civilians in Syrian town (Al Jazeera) At least 56 civilians, including 11 children, have been killed in US-led air strikes against areas in Syria held by the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), a monitoring group said. “We believe that the raids which were carried out Tuesday were by US [or] allied planes, but it was by mistake,” Observatory director Rami Abdel-Rahman told DPA news agency...

Alleged coup supporters to face trial in Greece (The Wall Street Journal) Greece faces a delicate balancing act as it confronts the spillover of Turkey’s failed coup on its territory: Eight Turkish officers who supported the coup and fled to Greece want asylum, while Turkey wants them handed over swiftly...

Gaza tunnel collapse kills terror operative (The Times of Israel) A Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror operative was killed in the Gaza Strip Monday night when a tunnel used by the group collapsed east of the town of Khan Yunis, according to various media reports...

In Lebanon, Syrian refugees fear rising discrimination (AFP) Lebanon hosts more than one million Syrian refugees — roughly a quarter of its population — and has regularly been praised for opening its borders to those fleeing the brutal conflict in its neighbor. But the refugee influx has strained resources and tempers, with some Lebanese viewing the years-long presence of Syrians as a burden, even an imposition...

Olympic champion: world must not forget about Ethiopia’s food crisis (Reuters) Millions of Ethiopians in the grip of a severe hunger crisis are at risk of being forgotten by the international community and urgently need more aid to help them recover, former Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie said on Monday...

In Egypt, law on the construction of churches delayed (Fides) The start of parliamentary debate on the new Egyptian law that should regulate the construction of churches and places of worship had been announced for the end of May, but almost two months later, the text of bill has not yet been brought into parliament, and is subjected to constant changes...

During trip to India, Cardinal Dolan celebrates Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, praises CNEWA (CardinalDolan.org) Today, we in America praise Jesus for your priests, sisters, and lay faithful whose deep Catholic faith, joy, and sense of family is an inspiration to us all. I praise Jesus Christ for the apostolic work of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, which allows us to accompany you with our prayers and alms, and am glad that Monsignor John Kozar is here with us. I praise Jesus Christ for the lessons Mar Ivanios has taught us: especially his trust, his emphasis on the Imitation of Christ, and his thirst for unity and reconciliation...



18 July 2016
Greg Kandra




At a funeral in Adana, Turkey, on 18 July, relatives mourn around the coffin of Turkish police officer Yunus Ugur, who was killed during the failed military coup attempt.
(photo: Muzaffer Cagliyaner/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Turkey crackdown continues after attempted coup (The New York Times) Turkish authorities moved to widen their purge of perceived opponents on Monday by removing thousands of police officers from their posts, part of the crackdown that followed a failed military coup that was aimed at toppling the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan...

Syrian army takes main road leading to Aleppo (CNN) The Syrian army and pro-government forces have taken control of the main road leading into rebel-held areas in Aleppo, effectively cutting off the rebels’ main supply route, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Sunday...

Report: Poorest countries shouldering responsibilities for world’s refugees (CNN) The world’s six wealthiest countries host less than 9 percent of the world’s refugees, according to a new Oxfam report. While the United States, China, Japan, Germany, France and UK make up more than half the global economy, last year they only hosted 2.1 million refugees and asylum seekers — just 8.88 percent of the world’s total, the aid organization said in its report released Monday...

Report: 15 arrested for arson attacks on Copts’ homes (Christian Today) Police have arrested 15 people after an arson attack on homes belonging to Coptic Christians in an Upper Egyptian village, in the latest of a series of attacks on Christians in the country. The arson attack on five houses in Abou Yaboub in the Minya governate came on Saturday after rumors spread about a church being built in the area. The arrests reportedly came hours later...

Ethiopia’s ancient sites fueling tourism boom (Quartz.com) Named the world’s best tourist destination of the year in 2015, Ethiopia says it post a 20.7 percent spike in tourism dollars last year hitting a record of $3.4 billion. Much of the growth of Ethiopia’s tourism has been due to its nine UNESCO world heritage sites, such as the 13th century rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, which continue to be a big draw...

Cardinal Dolan: India is an example (UCANIndia.in) Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, said that India constituted a great example of good relations among religious groups and that rare outbursts of hostilities among the groups were exceptions not representing the country. This is Cardinal Dolan’s first visit to Kerala and he was speaking to reporters in Kochi yesterday...







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