Middle East: Refugees hit by more violent winter storms

Independent Catholic News

The most violent winter storm for two decades swept across conflict-affected areas of the Middle East last week bringing heavy snow, rainfall, high winds and freezing temperatures. Syrians, Gazans, and Iraqis struggling to cope with war in their own countries or as refugees far from home are facing freezing weather conditions.

“War has left us without any way to defend ourselves against the cold. We have no electricity most of the time, no fuel and no gas. We have no way to stay warm apart from putting on many layers of clothes, which don’t help so much in -8 degrees,”  said a staff member from Caritas Syria in Damascus. Continue reading Middle East: Refugees hit by more violent winter storms

DR Congo unrest: Kinshasa Catholic schools shut

BBC

Demonstrators burn tyres to set up barricades during a protest in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa on 20 January 2015 The opposition accuses the president of trying to stage a "constitutional coup"
Demonstrators burn tyres to set up barricades during a protest in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa on 20 January 2015 The opposition accuses the president of trying to stage a “constitutional coup”

The Roman Catholic Church has shut its schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, as protests against President Joseph Kabila continue for a third day.

Church head Cardinal Monsengwo Pasinya called on people to peacefully oppose government moves to delay presidential elections until a census is held.

The highly influential Catholic Church runs many schools in the country.

At least 11 people have so far been been killed in the protests. Continue reading DR Congo unrest: Kinshasa Catholic schools shut

As South Sudan hopes for peace to hold, the displaced cope with trauma

National Catholic Reporter

Chris Herlinger

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Sr. Cathy Arata (Chris Herlinger)

It happened in South Sudan. From almost the first moment I landed there in late March, I heard about Malakal, a city in the northeast part of the country. Malakal had experienced some of the worst bits of fighting in a civil conflict that began a year ago and has never really been settled.

It was a story of killings and rapes in hospitals and desecration of churches; of bodies not buried for days and then weeks; of town squares and village centers laid waste. It was also a story of acts of courage, kindness and resilience; and, for many, the new challenges and difficulties now posed by trauma and guilt. Continue reading As South Sudan hopes for peace to hold, the displaced cope with trauma

Reflection: This week’s Charlie Hebdo cover is a huge mistake

Independent Catholic News

By: Canon Pat Browne

Canon Pat Browne gave the following homily at Holy Apostles, Pimlico, central London, on Peace Sunday.

I believe the publishing this week of the cartoon of the prophet Mohammed on the cover of Charlie Hebdo was ill-judged, badly timed and a huge mistake.

Yes the publishers have every right to say what they want and publish what they like but that does not mean they should do so in every case. Why seek to offend when you could befriend? Is it necessary to use your freedom to insult others if you are serious about building a peaceful, just and diverse society? I’m sure Charie Hebdo like to think of themselves as a free-thinking liberal and enlightened publication. But they have played into the hands of extreme right-wing racist groups whose purpose is to rid France and other European countries of all immigrants. They have contributed to setting the white host population in these countries against minorities and those immigrants who live settled, peaceful lives contributing to society through their work, their taxes and their gifts – people in many cases who have no voice and no agenda other than to be good citizens. Continue reading Reflection: This week’s Charlie Hebdo cover is a huge mistake

DR Congo rocked by anti-government protests

Al Jazeera

Activists urging president to resign clash with police in capital, resulting in four deaths, including officers.

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At least four people, including two policemen, have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, after security forces clashed with thousands protesting moves that will pave the way for President Joseph Kabila to extend his hold on power, police say.

At least 10 protesters were also injured after police fired live bullets to break up the rallies in some parts of the capital on Monday, witnesses said. Continue reading DR Congo rocked by anti-government protests

Five pupils, policeman hurt as protest over school land marred by violence

Daily Nation

By OTIATO GUGUYU

School children from the Lang'ata Road Primary School scramble up a bridge on January 19, 2015 in Nairobi to escape tear gas after police attempted to break up their demonstration against the removal of their school's playground, which was allegedly grabbed by a powerful politician. Children were in the front line of people pulling down a wall erected around the playground. AFP PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA
School children from the Lang’ata Road Primary School scramble up a bridge on January 19, 2015 in Nairobi to escape tear gas after police attempted to break up their demonstration against the removal of their school’s playground, which was allegedly grabbed by a powerful politician. Children were in the front line of people pulling down a wall erected around the playground. AFP PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA

Five children and a police officer were injured as violence marred demonstrations to save the Lang’ata Road Primary School playground from a land grabber on Monday.

In scenes, reminiscent of the 1976 South Africa riots under apartheid — when police descended on protesting school children — police officers lobbed tear gas on the children and the adults accompanying them, causing chaotic scenes that spilled over to Lang’ata road. Continue reading Five pupils, policeman hurt as protest over school land marred by violence