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World news in brief

21 July 2023


A Russian representative at the UN Security Council in New York on Monday, during a debate on the Russian rejection of the Black Sea Grain initiative

A Russian representative at the UN Security Council in New York on Monday, during a debate on the Russian rejection of the Black Sea Grain initiative

Grain deal: millions at risk, says Christian Aid

RUSSIA’s decision to pull out of the Black Sea grain deal, which allows commercial food and fertiliser exports from three Ukranian ports in the Black Sea, will put “millions at risk from rising food prices”, if ships are prevented from reaching countries in Africa and the Mediterranean, Christian Aid has warned. “While food prices have come down from their peak, more countries are still falling further into hunger due to insecurity, climate change, and the rising cost of living,” the charity’s humanitarian and hunger policy adviser, Lydia Mbogoro, said on Monday. “The loss of millions of tonnes of these key staples from the Black Sea will further push countries closer to famine.” The Financial Times reported that Russia “lost interest in the deal after efforts to ease pathways for its own food and fertiliser exports ran afoul of western sanctions”.


Roman Catholic universities confer on AI

CATHOLIC universities have a duty to inform people about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and help to steer it “towards an approach that is willing to respect human dignity, to avoid delegating moral responsibility to machines”, an international conference organised by the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities (SACRU) heard last week, Vatican News reports. Professor Marco Carlo Passarotti, of the Sacred Heart University, in Milan, also told the delegates — more than 80 professors and researchers from around the world — that AI would end the separation between humanities and science disciplines. SACRU has launched a five-year project to educate young people and foster co-operation among its members.


Churches urge resumption of aid to Ethiopia
FOOD aid to Ethiopia by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and World Food Programme must be resumed, a group of church bodies said last week. Aid was suspended in June, with USAID referring to a “widespread and coordinated campaign . . . diverting food assistance from the people of Ethiopia”. In a letter sent to the Administrator of USAID last week, the signatories, including the World Council of Churches, expressed their agreement with Orthodox, Evangelical, and Catholic Churches in Ethiopia, whose statements were appended. “The concerns that have been identified regarding misuse of food aid are serious and warrant thorough investigation and correction,” they write. “Meanwhile, the people and communities in urgent need of this aid must not suffer the consequences of this situation.” More than 20 million people in the country rely on aid in the midst of civil conflict and the worst drought for four decades.


Chaldean Patriarch announces his retirement

THE Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, has announced his intention to “retire from the Patriarchal See in Baghdad and move to a church, a mission, in one of the monasteries of Iraqi Kurdistan”, Vatican News reports. The announcement, published on Saturday, follows a decision by the President of Iraq, Abdul Latif Rashid, to revoke a decree established in 2013 by the previous head of state, Jalal Talabani, recognising Cardinal Sako as Patriarch of the Chaldean Church. In May, European representatives spoke out in support of Cardinal Sako in response to hostility expressed on social media after his criticism of the “Babylonian Brigades”: a paramilitary organisation and political party that describes itself as Christian, despite being aligned with pro-Iranian Shia militias.

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