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World news in brief

14 January 2022

COAST Foundation

A fire has ripped through the Cox’s Bazar camps in Bangladesh

A fire has ripped through the Cox’s Bazar camps in Bangladesh

‘Devastating’ impact of fire at Rohingya camps

A FIRE that has destroyed 600 shelters in the Cox’s Bazar camps housing more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is a “devastating setback”, Tearfund’s disaster manager in Bangladesh, James Badaiya, said on Wednesday. The fire, which broke out on Sunday, has caused “considerable damage to sections of the largest camp of its kind in the world, affecting both refugees and members of the host community”, the UN reports. No deaths have been reported. “So much work goes into making Cox’s Bazar a safe and dignified place to take refuge,” Mr Badaiya said. Tearfund is supporting those affected by providing blankets. Other organisations are providing clothing, food, shelter, and medical assistance.

Coptic activist released from pre-trial detention

AN EGYPTIAN Coptic activist, Rami Kamil, was released on Sunday, pending trial, after spending more than two years in pre-trial detention, in contravention of the Egyptian Penal Code, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports. Mr Kamil is a founding member and coordinator of the Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic human-rights organisation that emerged after more than 20 Coptic protesters were killed when the military attacked a protest in October 2011 sparked by the burning down by Salafi Islamists of a church (News, 17 August 2012). He is currently facing terrorism charges, but CSW reports that it is “widely believed he was targeted because of his human-rights work documenting violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief”.

Online crackdown on religious activity in China

NEW regulations concerning the sharing of religious content online, due to take effect on 1 March, were published by the Chinese government last week, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports. According to the state-run Global Times, the new measures stipulate that “overseas organizations and individuals are not allowed to operate online religious information services within the Chinese territory.” Online religious activities and ceremonies are prohibited, as is content that “induce[s] minors to believe in religion”. In October, Open Doors reported that the Chinese authorities were restricting social-media use by Christian groups (World news, 22 October).

Tributes to European Parliament president

POPE FRANCIS has paid tribute to David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament since 2019, who died on Tuesday, aged 65, after a short illness. In a telegram to Mr Sassoli’s wife, Alessandra, the Pope remembered him as a man “animated by hope and charity, a competent journalist and an esteemed man of the institutions who, calmly and respectfully, in his public role and responsibility, did his utmost for the common good with rectitude and generous commitment”, Vatican News reports. The general secretary of the Conference of European Churches, Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen, said: “His astounding efforts toward a democratic and sustainable Europe will always be cherished by the churches.”

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