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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
3 June 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch meets with children as they take part in a day of activities and prayers at a church in Damascus. (photo: CNS/Omar Sanadiki, Reuters)

U.N. plans no imminent aid airdrops in Syria, despite expired deadline (New York Times) The United Nations on Thursday dimmed any prospect of immediate airdrops of aid to Syrian civilians trapped by the war, despite an expired deadline imposed on Syria’s government to allow unfettered humanitarian access by land. United Nations officials said the World Food Program, its anti-hunger agency, had no imminent plans for airdrops even though the organization had known for more than two weeks about the deadline, which expired on Wednesday…

Syria’s Roma refugees find tenuous sanctuary in an Istanbul ghetto (The Guardian) On the north-western corner of Istanbul’s famous Taksim Square, a small gang of children dart through the traffic, tapping on car windows and trying to catch the attention of passers-by to sell bottles of water. These Syrian Roma children from a community known as the Dom are in many ways the forgotten faces of the Middle East crisis, which has left an estimated 26,000 refugee children homeless across Europe. The Dom speak a separate language which traces back to the Indian subcontinent; even in times of peace they have always existed on the fringes of society, and are used to facing almost universal discrimination…

Syrian refugees help bail out German towns amid massive flooding (Christian Science Monitor) As floodwaters sweep through Europe, some refugees are pitching in to help with the disaster relief efforts. “We know what it means to live in a crisis area and to lose your home,” Syrian Naja al Hassas told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, as he assisted with clean-up in the German town of Simbach am Inn…

More shipwrecks in Mediterranean claim migrants’ lives, spur recriminations (Washington Post) The death toll from a week of migrant-smuggling disasters in the Mediterranean spiked Friday with the discovery of more than 100 drowning victims off the Libyan coast amid searches for survivors of at least two other stricken boats in waters off Crete and Egypt…

Bulgarian Orthodox Church withdraws from Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete (Sofia Globe) The governing body of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod, signaled on 1 June its withdrawal from the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church to be held in Crete from 16 to 26 June. Strictly speaking, the Holy Synod demanded the postponement of the council unless its various demands were met, but given that this is unlikely to happen, the Synod’s decision effectively amounts to withdrawal. The Pan-Orthodox Council has been planned as the first such gathering in about 1000 years…

How one Jerusalem neighborhood has been left to fend for itself (Al Monitor) Kufr Aqab, an area of the Jerusalem municipality that is situated beyond the wall, is in “no-man’s-land.” The Israelis who hold sovereignty here fail to take their responsibility to provide services to the area and its residents, and the Palestinian Authority is not allowed to enter the area, leaving it unregulated with garbage often uncollected and water filling the streets…



Tags: Syria Jerusalem Migrants Bulgarian Orthodox Church Roma

2 June 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Armenian priests attend a meeting of the German parliament on 2 June, as legislators approve a resolution recognizing the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman government as a genocide. (photo: Mehmet Kaman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

German parliament declares Armenian deaths a genocide, angering Turkey (New York Times) The German Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a symbolic but fraught resolution on Thursday declaring the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 a genocide, escalating tensions with Turkey at a diplomatically delicate juncture. The Turkish government angrily denounced the vote as “null and void” and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recalled the ambassador in Germany back to Ankara for consultations…

India: Traffickers force 300,000 children to beg in streets (Vatican Radio) At least 300,000 children across India are drugged, beaten and forced to beg every day, in what has become a multi-million rupee industry controlled by human trafficking cartels, say police and trafficking experts…

As fighting surges again in Ukraine, an environmental disaster looms (Washington Post) Land mines and sniper fire, tank traps and unexploded shells have shut down Highway 20, the main artery into eastern Ukraine’s separatist stronghold of Donetsk. But despite the upheavals caused by two years of war, ordinary life along the route has struggled on. As violence surges again, that could change…

Ancient Gaza monastery gets second life as children’s library (Al Monitor) Al Khodr Shrine, which is also known as the Khodr Monastery and St. Hilarius Monastery, is situated just 200 yards south of the Deir al Balah city center. The director general of antiquities and cultural heritage at the Ministry of Tourism, Jamal Abu Rayda, told Al Monitor that archaeological studies confirmed that at the bottom of this site is situated the monastery of St. Hilarius, which dates back to the third century and is considered one of the oldest that still exists in Palestine. The monastery is now being restored by the Iwan Center for Architecture Heritage of the Islamic University and the Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation and turned into a library for the children of the neighborhood…

First seed library sprouts in Palestine (Al Jazeera) A search for rare seeds may seem like something out of a fairytale, but for Vivien Sansour it is a quest to bring back what years of Israeli occupation practices and climate change have pushed to the brink of extinction. The agronomist from Beit Jala, a town near Bethlehem, is collecting seed varieties handed down by Palestinian farmers for generations — an effort that will culminate with a seed library which she hopes will sprout into others across the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip…



Tags: India Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Germany

1 June 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Refugees wait in a queue for food at a makeshift camp at the Jardin d'Eole in Paris on 28 May. (photo: Nnoman Cadoret/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Refugee camp to be built in Paris (Vatican Radio) Preparations are underway in the French capital of Paris to construct a new refugee camp. The mayor has expressed concern about the mounting death toll among people fleeing war and poverty. She made the remarks after officials said at least 1,000 migrants perished in the Mediterranean…

Bishops condemn attacks on Africans in India (UCA News) Bishops in India have condemned a series of attacks on Africans in New Delhi, terming it as a disturbing trend and against Indian culture. “Africans and for that matter nationals of any country are our esteemed guests. Treat them as per our culture,” Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said in a press statement…

New apostolic vicar of Harar in Ethiopia consecrated (Vatican Radio) Bishop Angelo Pagano was last Sunday consecrated as the apostolic vicar of Harar in Ethiopia. The colorful ceremony took place at Diredawa St. Augustine Catholic Church. The new bishop was welcomed to his vicariate on 28 May at the Diredawa airport by the archbishop of Addis Ababa, Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., and Archbishop Luigi Bianco, the apostolic nuncio to Ethiopia. Also present were other Catholic bishops of Ethiopia, the mayor of Diredawa, students and hundreds of Catholics as well as people of good will…

A century ago, Syrians took in Armenians; now, in Armenia, a Syrian family rebuilds (Forbes) One month ago, one more Syrian restaurant opened, this one in Yerevan, Armenia. “I love Armenia. It’s my job, I think, to love it. I want to live here. I don’t want to go anywhere else,” says Shaghig Rastkelenian, who fled to Armenia about four years ago from Aleppo with her family. “My mom is professional cook. She cooks Arabic food and Syrian food, and everybody knows her,” she says. As the Syrian refugee diaspora spreads across the world, restaurants are one of the first signs of their integration in new communities. Syrians are known throughout the Middle East for their craft skills, which include cooking…

In Egyptian village, attack on Christian grandmother fuels anger (AINA) Souad Thabet’s house no longer has a door. Inside, its walls are blackened with soot and a television lies shattered on the floor. The remains of a red nightgown stand out among the ashes. Thabet, 70, describes being dragged outside by Muslim villagers and stripped naked in the dirt roads of Alkarm, the Egyptian village where she spent most of her adult life. Her crime? Her son, a married Christian, was rumored to have had an affair with a married Muslim woman. The woman has since denied the affair took place on national television. President Abdel Fattah al Sisi has denounced the Alkarm attack, which underlines that Copts remain vulnerable three years after he took power and pledged to unite the country following years of political turmoil…

Conference of European Churches discusses women and children’s rights (Fides) Women and children figure prominently as refugees in mass movements of people in recent months, and their rights will be at the forefront of a meeting organized in Greece by the Conference of European Churches in Thessaloniki, from 31 May to 4 June…



Tags: India Egypt Ethiopia Armenia France

31 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




A child celebrates safe landfall at the port of Cagliari, Sardinia, on 26 May, two days after being rescued near the Libyan coasts. (photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

U.N. children’s agency ‘alarmed’ at deaths in the Mediterranean (U.N. News Center) The United Nations Children’s Fund has expressed alarm at the number of migrant and refugee deaths in the past week in the Mediterranean, many of whom were believed to be unaccompanied minors. In anticipation of a major summer upswing of child migrants using the dangerous crossing between Libya and Italy UNICEF will shortly begin an operation with the Italian Government and partners to provide protection support, the agency said yesterday in a press release…

Pope Francis asks for prayers for Syrian children (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis urged the faithful to join in prayer on Wednesday, 1 June, International Children’s Day, with a special thought for the children in Syria. Speaking after the Angelus Prayer in St. Peter’s Square the pope greeted all the deacons present in Rome for their jubilee, thanking them for being present for the occasion but also for their presence in the church…

Iraqi bishop: ISIS drove us to unity (AINA) Archbishop Nicodemus Sharaf Daoud, the Syriac Orthodox bishop of Mosul, visited France and Belgium from 19 to 24 May and gave a series of lectures on the situation of Assyro-Chaldeans in Iraq. He and his congregation were forced into exile to Iraq’s northern region since ISIS attacked and took over Mosul in 2014. The archbishop expressed disappointment in the international community’s response, and hope for solidarity among the region’s Christian communities. “This tragedy made us walk towards unity,” he said. “Arriving in Mosul, ISIS’s men chased the Christians indiscriminately. So why should we make differences? In Erbil, I am constantly in contact with Bishop Petros Moshe, Syriac Catholic archbishop of Mosul, and Bishop Bashar Warda, the Chaldean archbishop of Erbil. We work together on all subjects…”

Syria cease-fire strengthens Al Qaeda branch (AINA) Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria has recruited thousands of fighters, including teenagers, and taken territory from government forces in a successful offensive in the north, illustrating how the cease-fire put in place by Russia and the United States to weaken the militants has in many ways backfired. The branch, known as Al Nusra Front, has churned out a flood of videos — slickly produced in the style of its rival, ISIS — that show off its recruitment drive…

How the war on Syria left its mark on Lebanon’s economy (Al Monitor) The economic and social impact of the Syrian crisis — now entering its sixth year — is one of the most critical issues facing Lebanon. The total number of displaced Syrians who took refuge in Lebanon since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011 stands at 1.5 million — meaning one in four people in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee. This has strained the public financial capacities and the provision of environmental services in Lebanon. The crisis is also expected to increase rampant poverty among the Lebanese and widen the income inequality gap…

Christians, Muslims, Yazidis and Mandaeans praying for peace (Chaldean Patriarchade of Babylon) At the invitation of Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I, a get-together event was held on Monday evening, 30 May, to pray for peace in Iraq, Syria and the region, at the Virgin Mary Church in Baghdad. Christian clergy of various churches participated in this event, in addition to Muslims — both Shiites and Sunnis — and representatives of Mandaean and Yazidi communities. Several ambassadors, and members of the Iraqi parliament also joined the large crowd of faithful in prayers…

Bishop to donate kidney to poor, lower-caste Hindu in India (Crux) Catholic news from India often pivots these days on anti-Christian bias, even outright persecution from the majority Hindu population. The way one Catholic bishop has chosen to put mercy into practice, however, is a reminder that interreligious tension and conflict is hardly the only narrative. Syro-Malabar Catholic Bishop Mar Jacob Muricken, 52, an auxiliary in the Palai diocese in Kerala, received the necessary clearances from a governmental medical college in Kottayam to take one of his healthy kidneys and have it transplanted into a 30-year-old poor and lower-caste Hindu man from Kottakal…



Tags: Syria India Iraq Interreligious United Nations

27 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrians gather their belongings as they leave a refugee camp due to ISIS attacks in the Azaz district of Aleppo, on 27 May. (photo: Ali Demir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

U.N. relief chief calls for more assistance for Syrians (U.N. News Center) Following a visit to Hatay in southern Turkey, the top United Nations humanitarian official has called for greater assistance for Syrians in need, both inside the country and across the region, warning that the humanitarian situation for millions of people remains “unrelentingly distressing and dire…”

Syria’s ruined cities will need decades, not years, to recover (AINA) While diplomats wrangle in Geneva over a nascent, faltering peace process kick-started by the United Nations, other organizations are scratching their heads over the huge challenge of reconstructing and rebuilding a country that has been torn apart. In 2014, a U.N. study suggested that it would take Syria at least three decades to recover. The World Bank is trying to come to grips with the nuts and bolts of the destruction. Using satellite imagery of six Syrian cities, the organization came up with assessments for the damage wrought on these urban centers. A conservative estimate on the losses in public infrastructure sits at $6 billion…

Civilians trapped in Iraqi city of Falluja are starving (Vatican Radio) Around 50,000 civilians trapped in the Iraqi city of Fallujah face starvation as government forces continue their assault to retake it from ISIS militants. The grim assessment came from the Norwegian Refugee Council, an NGO that has been delivering aid to those civilians who managed to escape from the outlying areas of Fallujah before the assault commenced…

Returning home to Iraq’s city of Ramadi means facing hidden dangers (Los Angeles Times) After more than a year away from the war-ravaged Iraqi city of Ramadi, Osama Ismail felt it was safe enough to return to check on the condition of his abandoned home. The government, after all, had declared the city “liberated” from Islamic State extremists. Ismail, a father of four, walked through the house last month surveying the damage, eventually reaching the bedroom he shared with his wife. They had left clothes and other items behind in their rush to leave the city and he was curious to see what remained. Then, an explosion. Family members said the blast threw the 42-year-old teacher against a wall and killed him instantly. The house, local officials said, had been booby-trapped with an improvised explosive device by Islamic State fighters…

‘Disaster in the making’: The many failures of the E.U.-Turkey refugee deal (Der Spiegel) The internment of Syrian refugees raises new doubts over the controversial refugee agreement between Europe and Turkey. Indeed, it appears that the deal is on the verge of falling apart, only two months after the program began…

Coptic Orthodox Church confirms mob attack on Christians in Minya village (Ahram Online) The Coptic Orthodox Coptic Church said in a statement on Wednesday that a mob attacked Christian homes in a village in Minya last Friday, and stripped an older Christian woman of her clothes during the assault…



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Turkey United Nations

26 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Muslims and Christians alike visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in the village of Harissa, near Beirut. (photo: CNS/Dalia Khamissy)

In Lebanon, Muslims and Christians visit Marian shrine at Harissa (CNS) High on a summit overlooking the Mediterranean, Our Lady of Lebanon stands majestically with her arms outstretched, welcoming her children. Muslims and Christians alike come to the shrine, 16 miles north of Beirut. To Muslims, Mary is known in Arabic as “Seidatna Maryam,” Our Lady Mary. Even though Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, in the Quran, a chapter is devoted to Maryam…

Egypt: Muslim crowd burns seven homes of Copts (ANSAmed) A crowd of some 300 Muslims attacked and set on fire seven homes of Coptic Christians in a village of central Egypt and forced a Christian woman to strip naked in public. The incident was reported in a statement by the Coptic church of the governorate of Minya, quoted by Egyptian media like Al Masry al Youm and occurred near Abu Qurqas on Friday night. The homes were “attacked, burned, ransacked and destroyed” at around 8 p.m., the statement said, reporting that police reached the location two hours later, arresting six people. The crowd of attackers was “chanting slogans” and the “deplorable incidents” followed “reports of a sentimental relationship between a Coptic Christian man and a Muslim woman…”

Lebanese leaders hope pope-imam meeting leads to new relationships (Catholic Philly) Lebanese leaders in Muslim-Christian dialogue said they hoped Pope Francis’ meeting with Ahmad el Tayeb, grand imam of Al Azhar University, would lead to new relationships. Maronite Father Fadi Daou, chairman of Adyan, a foundation for interfaith studies and spiritual solidarity based in Lebanon, told Catholic News Service that he hopes the meeting will be the forerunner to a “new dimension of interreligious relations.” Mohammad Sammak, secretary-general of Lebanon’s Christian-Muslim Committee for Dialogue, said the meeting likely would “open a new page of cooperation on the basis of building real citizenship — equal citizenship — between Christians and Muslims all over the Middle East…”

Msgr. Sullivan describes his experiences in Iraq (Catholic Charities) Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined a small delegation in early April led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), to Iraqi Kurdistan. During this mission they visited families displaced after ISIS swept through Iraq in the summer of 2014. They spent time in displacement camps filled with Christians, Muslims and Yazidis who fled to these camps and looked at health clinics, schools and churches that sprung up to serve them. As part of the delegation, Msgr. Sullivan spoke one-on-one with those forced to flee their homes as well as with sisters, priests and bishops…

Dozens feared dead as migrant boat capsizes in Mediterranean (TheGuardian) Dozens of people are feared to have drowned in the second shipwreck in as many days in the southern Mediterranean, amid tentative signs that some Syrians may be trying once again to make for Europe from Libya…

Uproar over police brutality against Israeli Arab (Al Monitor) Israeli passersby documented border police officers beating an Israeli-Arab youth working in a Tel Aviv grocery store…



Tags: Iraq Egypt Lebanon Israel Migrants

25 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Internally displaced Iraqis leave a Catholic church after celebrating the liturgy in a camp in Ain Kawa, Iraq, in April. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Tom Gallagher: The desperate plight of Iraqi Christians (Greenwich Time) In mid-April 2016, as an act of solidarity with the suffering Christians and other religious minorities, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, as chairman of the Board of Directors of the 90-year old New York City-based papal agency, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), made a pastoral visit to Erbil and Dohuk, a town near the Turkish border. I went as a journalist for the National Catholic Reporter. Our small delegation visited multiple health clinics and displacement camps for Iraqi Christians and Yazidis. At each stop the displaced repeated the plea to be able to “just go home…”

Christian schools at risk as Israeli government reneges on promise (Fides) A few days before the end of a difficult school year, which started with a 27-day strike, 47 Christian schools operating in Israel are facing a financial emergency because the Ministry of education has not honored their commitment to transfer 50 million shekels to the Christian schools, a condition of the agreement that ended the strike in September. As of today, the government is more than 50 days past its deadline…

Iraqi priest: Violence, divisions have created a sense of brotherhood with Muslims (Herald Malaysia Online) The Rev. Samir Youssef, pastor in the Chaldean Eparchy of Amadiya, in Iraqi Kurdistan, has been taking care of 3,500 Christian, Muslim and Yazidi refugee families since 2014. Over this time, ISIS, violence, political divisions and partisan interests have created a new sense of brotherhood among them. In the past, people lived side by side, but today, refugees have a new desire of community, which is “expressed in what they do but also what they say,” not only among children and youths, but also among adults “who have overcome their initial distrust,” Father Youssef says. “When Muslim and Yazidi children call me ‘Abouna’ [“father” in Arabic], and come to visit me in church, this is God’s victory…”

Syrian bishop’s plea as blasts cause carnage (AINA) A bishop in Syria has described desperate efforts to tend to the injured and the dying following multiple ISIS attacks in Tartous and Jableh, which left more than 200 dead and nearly 650 injured. Bishop Antioine Chbeir stressed that Monday’s attacks in his diocese were the first of their kind in an area where displaced Syrians had gathered in their hundreds of thousands, believing it to be one of the last remaining safe areas of the country…

Christianity in India and the challenges of Hindu extremism (The Tablet) Christians and Muslims have been persecuted at the hands of Hindu nationalists associated with the ruling B.J.P. party, which espouses Hindutva, the ethno-religious political ideology that claims India as a “motherland” for Hindus and regards Islam and Christianity as alien elements in Indian society. The Syro-Malabar Church, with 4 million members, is the largest of southwest India’s churches, claiming descent from the mission efforts of the Apostle Thomas. It is one of the 23 Eastern Catholic churches in communion with Rome. Whether Thomas actually arrived in India in the year 52 is disputable, but it is clear that Christianity was established on the Malabar coast at least as early as the sixth century, and thereafter lived in cultural symbiosis with both Hinduism and Buddhism. So far, the level of interreligious violence has been low in Kerala compared with other states, but, warns Cardinal George Alencherry, “there is an undercurrent of communal tension here too…”



Tags: Syria India Iraq Israel Iraqi Christians

24 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Solidarity groups protest behind a line of riot police during the forced evacuation of a makeshift camp close to the Greece-Macedonia border near the village of Idomeni on 24 May. (photo: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images)

Greece begins to clear migrants from Idomeni camp (TIME) Greek authorities have started removing thousands of migrants and refugees from a makeshift camp near the Macedonian border, where they have been stranded since Macedonia closed its border in February…

Rabbis launch campaign against religious hatred, ‘price tag’ gangs (Fides) Israel-based Rabbis for Human Rights have announced that a new campaign will be launched in the Knesset this week. ‘Price tag’ attacks are hate crimes directed mainly at Palestinians and Christians by extremist right-wing Israeli Jews. These crimes often go unpunished…

Terra Santa middle school in Aleppo hit by a missile (Custodia Terrae Sanctae) On Saturday, 21 May, missiles fell on the Terra Santa Middle School in Aleppo, Syria. One person died and two were seriously injured, including elderly people who had sought refuge there. Until this event, the school, with its large park, was considered to be one of the city’s few safe places. A year ago, the friars opened up classrooms in order to accommodate about 20 elderly people after their homes were bombed. “The explosion was extremely violent, and it was strongly felt,” said Brother Firas Lutfi, O.F.M., the school principal, in a telephone interview. “There is a no longer one place in Aleppo that is 100 percent safe…”

Egypt Parliament to discuss easing restrictions on building churches (WorldWatch Monitor) The Egyptian Parliament is considering a proposal on the construction of churches that Christians hope will narrow the country’s religious inequality gap. The construction of each new church typically had to be authorized directly by the Egyptian president, although attempts have been made to grant church-building permits from governors and the security authorities…

Surge in eastern fighting kills seven Ukrainian soldiers (Reuters) Ukraine said on Tuesday seven of its servicemen had been killed in the past 24 hours as a result of increased attacks by pro-Russian rebels, the highest reported daily casualty figure since August…

Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of the East open talks (AINA) Official dialogue between the Church of the East and the Russian Orthodox Church opened in consideration of the full-scale persecution of Christians in the Middle East, suffered especially in Iraq and Syria, on 18 May. The Commission recognized the importance of the Russian Orthodox Church’s solidarity with the Church of the East and all persecuted peoples of the Middle East…



Tags: Syria Ukraine Israel Migrants Greece

23 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Iraqi pro-government forces advance towards the city of Fallujah on 23 May, as part of a major assault to retake the city from ISIS. (photo: Ahmad Al Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

Iraqi Army liberates strategic city in Anbar (Al Masdar News) The Iraqi Army has had a very successful day in the Anbar governorate, liberating several sites from ISIS terrorists around the city of Fallujah. However, the biggest surprise in Anbar came from Al Karma, where the Iraqi Armed Forces overwhelmed ISIS units to liberate this strategic city near the Iraqi capital…

Chaldean patriarch urges U.S. not to arm ‘Christian militias’ (AINA) Christian anti-ISIS forces in Iraq are set to benefit from a defense spending bill headed for authorization by the U.S. Congress. Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I, however, urges against giving weapons to self-styled “Christian” militias. “There are no ‘Christian militias,’ but only politicized groups and simple people who are in desperate need of a salary…”

Israel allows building supplies to enter Gaza again (New York Times) The Israeli military authorities on Monday allowed building supplies to start flowing into Gaza again, lifting a suspension that had blocked work for more than a month on thousands of houses destroyed in the 2014 summer war. About 90 truckloads of cement were expected to cross into Gaza on Monday, according to the office of the special coordinator for the peace process…

Syria’s Catholic and Orthodox children to pray together for peace (AINA) Children from Syria’s different Christian denominations will be joining together to pray for peace in the country on International Children’s Day. The plan, which is being backed by Syrian church leaders, was described in a joint message from the country’s Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs. They wrote: “On this International Day of the Child, Christian children in many of the towns and cities of Syria are going to gather together and pray that peace may come at last…”

Wave of bombings kills scores in area of Syria loyal to Assad (Washington Post) A wave of coordinated bombings in Syria claimed by ISIS killed at least 78 people Monday in the usually calm coastal area where Russian troops are based, Syrian state media reported…

Egyptian press announces resumption of dialogue between Holy See and Al Azhar (Fides) ”In Egypt, great importance is given to the meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar; even the most popular newspapers dedicate large space to the event on the front page, and report that the decision to resume official dialogue between the Holy See and the largest Sunni theological institution has already been taken,” says Anba Kyrillos William Samaan, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assiut…



Tags: Syria Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank

20 May 2016
Greg Kandra




The video above explains how Syrian bishops, religious organizations are seeking to stop sanctions on Syria, as a new report reveals countries are not delivering on aid they pledged to the war-torn country. (video: Rome Reports)

Israeli defense minister resigns (The New York Times) The Israeli defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, announced on Friday that he was resigning, an abrupt move that comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly conducts negotiations with a far-right party to join his government. As part of those negotiations, Mr. Netanyahu is believed to have offered the position of defense minister to Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party...

Air disaster adds to Egypt’s litany of woes (NPR) The cause isn’t yet known, but the loss of an Egyptian plane into the Mediterranean has already delivered a new round of trauma to a beleaguered country struggling on several fronts. President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi’s hardline rule faces mounting criticism at home and abroad. An ISIS-linked group is waging an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula. The tourist industry has been in the doldrums for years. And the EgyptAir plane that vanished early Thursday marked the country’s second aviation disaster in just over six months...

Report: Countries not fulfilling pledges to help refugees (The Guardian) Countries who attended a London summit to help Syrian refugees have so far only committed a sixth of the money they pledged for 2016, a report shows. The money is due to be allocated to help countries in the region surrounding Syria, primarily Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, with a focus on Syrian children’s education and improving the chances of refugees finding paid work...

Over 100 reported killed by floods, landslides in Ethiopia (Al Jazeera) About 100 people have been killed by floods and landslides across Ethiopia that started last month, government officials say. At least 20,000 families have been made homeless, according to the UN, while local officials say there are a number of people still missing. Meteorologists have blamed this year’s particularly powerful El Niño weather phenomenon for the country’s high rainfall...

Aid from UAE headed to Iraqi refugees (Fides) The eleven Iraqi Christian refugee families in Mosul who found hospitality in Naur, western urban area of the municipality in Amman, will also receive this year material aid reserved for them from the United Arab Emirates...

Commission says suicides on the rise in Gaza (Gulf News) Independent Commission for Human Right’s (ICHR) figures show six suicides in Gaza since the beginning of this year whereas five Gazans took their lives in the entire 2015. The commission urged the situation in Gaza be addressed by the entire society which must establish a national mental health committee to tackle the suicides. The ICHR said there is a sharp increase in the rate of suicide attempts, too...







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