UN renews commitment to rebuilding Haiti
THE secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, has renewed the organisation’s commitment to Haiti, ten years after the earthquake that devastated the country (News, 15 January 2010). In a video message on Sunday, Mr Guterres said: “On this day, we remember the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their lives, and the millions gravely affected by the devastating earthquake that struck their country ten years ago.” About 220,000 people were killed, including 102 UN staff, when their headquarters in the country collapsed.
US Episcopalians condemn governor’s refugee ban
THE Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, should reverse his decision to reject refugee resettlement in the state this year, the Episcopal Church in the US has said. A spokesman said that the Church condemned Mr Abbott’s decision, since “refugee resettlement embodies the Texan spirit and our faithful commitment to assisting the least among us”. State and local authorities were given authority by President Trump to stop resettling refugees last year. In a separate case, the son of the Anglican Bishop of El Salvador, the Rt Revd David Alvarado, faces deportation from the US. He was arrested by immigration officials in November. Bishop Alvarado said that his son, Josue Alvarado Guerra, had been forced to flee El Salvador because his life was in danger.
Colombian bishops call for resumption of peace talks
ROMAN CATHOLIC bishops in Colombia have called for a “global solution” to the humanitarian crisis there. In a statement published this week, they call for a resumption of “the path of peace” to promote “human rights, people’s rights and international humanitarian law” in Colombia. They ask their fellow-citizens to pray and commit themselves to building a fair, fraternal and violence-free country. A peace agreement between the government and FARC guerrillas was reached in 2016 (News, 2 September 2016), but this led to a power struggle in several regions.
Peer troubled by closure of Nigerian orphanage
LORD ALTON, a Lords crossbencher, has raised concerns with the BBC over its reporting of the closure of a Nigerian orphanage. The report last week stated that the orphanage, the Du Merci Centre in Kano state capital, had been raided by the police for operating illegally, and its founder, Professor Richard Tarfa, had been arrested. Lord Alton wrote to the BBC that, in 2002, in the wake of a similar raid, the High Court had ruled that the Du Merci Centre was duly registered and was conducting a “legitimate endeavour”.
West Africa faces rise in terrorist violence, UN is told
WEST AFRICA and the Sahel is experiencing a “devastating” surge in terrorist attacks, the UN Security Council was told last week. The UN special representative and head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, described the humanitarian consequences as alarming. He said that deaths from terrorism in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger had risen from hundreds to thousands in the past year. The attacks were increasingly threatening West African coastal states. Climate change was one factor in the increasing violence, he said, as well as “incomplete national reconciliation processes”.
Cubans’ religious freedom deteriorating, says CSW
THE situation for all religious groups in Cuba remains “dire”, the head of advocacy at Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Anna-Lee Stangl, said this week. The organisation released a report that argues that the Cuban government “continues to routinely and systematically violate freedom of religion or belief”. It had received 260 documented cases of violations in the past year, and attributed the cause to weakened protection for believers under the country’s new constitution. Ms Stangl praised the formation of the Cuban Alliance of Evangelical Churches, and the rising number of Cubans who were speaking out, “despite the potential repercussions”.