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World news in brief

03 January 2020


Solidarity with the suffering: the cross of Lampedusa is carried through the streets of Malaga, Spain, during a procession of solidarity with migrants who died trying to reach European coasts. The cross, made with pieces of wood from a boat that sank in Lampedusa, Italy, with 366 migrants on board, in October 2013, has been blessed by Pope Francis. It is travelling around the world at his request, and will be in Malaga until 5 January. See gallery for another picture story

Solidarity with the suffering: the cross of Lampedusa is carried through the streets of Malaga, Spain, during a procession of solidarity with migrants...


Guterres puts his faith in young people for 2020

YOUNG people are the “greatest source of hope” for “a world at war and a warming planet” and global uncertainty, the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, has said in his New Year message. “From climate action to gender equality to social justice and human rights, your generation is on the frontlines and in the headlines,” he said on Sunday. “I am with you. The UN stands with you — and belongs to you.” The organisation will mark its 75th anniversary in 2020. “We are launching a Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.


Children suffer ‘deadly decade’ of violence

GRAVE violations against children caught up in world conflicts have risen “three-fold” in the past decade: an average of 45 violations a day, UNICEF has reported. Its executive director, Henrietta Fore, said on Monday: “Attacks on children continue unabated as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children.” In 2018, the UN verified more than 24,000 grave violations against children, including killing, maiming, sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access, child recruitment, and attacks on schools and hospitals. This figure is more than two-and-a-half times higher than that recorded in 2010. During the first half of 2019, the UN verified more than 10,000 such violations against children.


Chinese pastor sentenced to nine years

A PASTOR of Early Rain Covenant Church, Chengdu, in China, has been sentenced to nine years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegal business operations”, it has been reported. Pastor Wang Yi, who is 46, has been in detention since he was arrested in December 2018 along with 150 members of his church. Most have been released, including his wife, Jiang Rong, who was freed on bail on 11 June and is under house arrest with their 12-year-old son. Pastor Yi was sentenced by the People’s Intermediate Court in the city on Boxing Day. He has also been fined about £7000. An elder of the church, Qin Defu, is serving a four-year prison sentence on the same charge. The chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas, said that Pastor Yi had been convicted on “baseless criminal charges simply for standing up for his beliefs”, and called on the Chinese authorities to drop the charges.


Leprosy sufferer to carry 2020 Olympic torch

A 92-YEAR-OLD Japanese man with leprosy, Yasuji Hirasawa, will carry the Olympic torch in Tokyo 2020 — more than 50 years after he was barred from entering the 1964 Olympic stadium in the same city because of discriminatory laws covering leprosy at the time. Mr Hirasawa told the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi that being a runner in the torch relay would “help comfort the spirits of my friends who were left to die disappointed. It’s a heavy cross to bear, but I want to carry the torch with their thoughts in my heart.” The national director of the Leprosy Mission England and Wales, Peter Waddup, said that the “heartwarming” story was a “beacon of change to the world to attitudes surrounding leprosy”.

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