Fides News English Agency Newsen-usASIA/JORDAN - Caritas Jordan welcomes Iraqi Christians put to flight by the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) - Almost a thousand Christians fleeing from northern Iraq, faced with the advancing of the jihadists militia of the Islamic State, will be welcomed in Jordan within the next few days thanks to the contribution of Caritas Jordan. This is confirmed to Fides Agency by Wael Suleiman, Director of Caritas Jordan. "So far", says Suleiman, "there are more than three hundred Christians who have arrived in Amman after escaping from Mosul and villages of the Nineveh Plain. Within the next week the number will increase to seven hundred. In the following days we will reach the figure of one thousand Christian". The majority of Iraqi Christians who have arrived in the Hashemite Kingdom have found so far hospitality in four Catholic parishes, receiving medical care, daily meals and basic necessities. Other parishes and convents are ready to accommodate the displaced Christians in coming days. Thanks to an agreement with the Royal Jordanian Airlines, Christians take the flight Erbil-Amman and the ticket cost is covered by Caritas Jordan, and also has the task of accommodating the refugees at the different centers. Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - More than 11,000 people fleeing due to the conquest of their city by Boko Haram - Boko Haram has conquered the town of Gwoza, in Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria, causing the flight of more than 11,000 inhabitants. This confirms the alarm launched by the Nigerian Bishops on the change of strategy of the Islamist sect that does not limit itself in carrying out attacks but intends to control areas of the national territory . <br />Gwoza is located at the border with Cameroon, whose territory is increasingly threatened by the activities of Boko Haram, as demonstrated by the abduction of foreign nationals that have occurred in the last year. <br />According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs since May 2013 to date, more than 650,000 people have been forced to flee the violence of Boko Haram . Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL – The "Ecumenism and the Missions" Symposium begins Paolo - The city of Vargem Grande Paulista will host between 21 and 24 August, the "Ecumenism and Mission" Symposium.<br />The event, which is organized by the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil in collaboration with the Pontifical Catholic University of Parana and the Board of Ecumenism, Laity and Mission of the Conference of Brazilian Bishops , will be based at the Mariapoli Ginetta Centre. <br />In addition to discussing the document "Christian Witness in a pluralistic world", prepared by the CMI, guests will be able to reflect on the historical path of the ecumenical movement in Brazil, having as a background the contribution of the Regional Conference of Bishops of the North-East and the Second Vatican Council. Parallel to this there will be an analysis of the challenges for the witness and Christian mission - as the name Symposium suggests - always in a theological perspective of inclusion and dialogue. <br />The note sent to Fides of the PMS in Brazil highlights the importance of this event after the increase of the formation activities of Christian communities in the region that are involving a huge number of participants. Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDIA - The Jesuits: the Government of Gujarat promotes extremism and violence in schools - The government of Gujarat promotes the principles of extremism and Hindu nationalism among school children: it has introduced, in more than 42,000 primary and secondary state schools, nine text books based on the principles of identity, racism and discrimination, typical of the radical Hindu groups, supporters of hatred and violence. This is the complaint sent to Fides by Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ, Director of "Prashant", Human Rights, Justice and Peace Centre, based in Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat. <br />As reported to Fides, the state of Gujarat orders to include nine textbooks in the school programme elaborated by Dina Nath Batra, founder of a cultural Academy, the "Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti", which aims to preserve the Hindu religion and culture. The academy is used as an ideological benchmark by violent groups who promote the ideology of Hindutva in India. These forces, says Fr. Prakash to Fides, "are now aiming at manipulating the public education system". <br />The books were published in January 2014 and praised by the then Prime Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, today Prime Minister of India. "Frozen until after the election, they are now being introduced into schools", explains the Jesuit. <br />"The books are full of myths and falsehoods, superstitions and prejudices, with gross distortions and manipulations. They propagate fascist ideology that is totally against the heritage of Indian culture, made up of inclusiveness, pluralism and the rights of all", says Fr. Prakash <br />The texts, according to the Jesuit "violate Articles 28 and 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, promoting a racist ideology". Speaking of "niggers", they teach hatred and prejudice toward Westerners, they accuse the English language "of having polluted the Indian culture", they subtly denigrate religious minorities such as Muslims and Christians and define Islam and Christianity "non-Indian religions". <br />The Jesuits of Prashant invite civil society to "protest strongly" in order not to allow Indian children to be educated according to these distorted and violent principles and ask the government for the immediate revocation of the introduction of such texts in public schools. Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - Cardinal Fernando Filoni: my mission among the sufferings of the Iraqi brothers City - Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who returned from Iraq last night after his visit as personal envoy of Pope Francis, met the Pope this morning to inform him about the mission entrusted to him. <br />In the following interview, the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation told Fides Agency about the meetings and impressions that marked the days spent in the devastated Middle Eastern Country <br /><br />Eminence, your visit was an emergency humanitarian trip which involved Christians and the other inhabitants of northern Iraq. What did you see? <br />It was a mission in the suffering accomplished especially among Christians who escaped from Mosul and the Nineveh Plain. Uprooted from their homes, from the simplicity of their daily lives, to end up catapultated in an unpredictable situation. To find oneself, from one day to the next, without a home, without clothes, without all the bare necessities that one takes for granted and that now no longer exist, such as no water to wash oneself, with a temperature of 47 degrees. Or sleep on the street or in the garden, under a tree or under a plastic cover. With women used to working in the house, who appear disorientated. With children who are perhaps the only ones who do not understand the drama of the situation, and they run to and fro. With the elderly thrown in a corner and the sick who do not know if there is a doctor or medicines for them. <br /><br />Is there an encounter, an event that particularly struck you? <br />A mother showed me her little 3 month girl, saying that while they were fleeing from Mosul, the baby’s gold earrings were removed. The object in itself is not important, but that violence also expresses contempt towards the little ones. I said: they have removed the earrings, but the most precious things are still with you: your child and your dignity. This wounded dignity that no one could take away. They were happy. They began to clap. <br /><br />How were you welcomed? <br />The fact that the Pope was unable to be present personally and immediately sent his personal envoy - not a diplomat, was a significant sign that he wanted to share everything with them. And I lived those days among them. I felt privileged compared to them, for the fact of having a room where to sleep and a bit of water to wash my hands. But I shared everything with them. I did not represent myself, but the Holy Father, and this sharing everything with them was a sign of the Pope’s closeness. I visited Christian and Yazidi villages. And then I participated in the life of the local Church. Even the Bishops, priests, religious men and women had to flee and had to find a place where to sleep. Through the envoy, the Pope wanted to encourage everyone, tell everyone that they have not been forgotten. <br /><br />Returning from Korea, Pope Francis recognized that the way to stop the unjust aggressor is to be sought in international bodies. <br />The Church as Church is and will always be against war. But these poor people have the right to be defended. They have no weapons, they have been driven out from their homes in a cowardly way, they have not engaged the enemy. <br /><br />How can one guarantee the right of these people to live in dignity in their own homes? <br />Certainly not giving way to violence and trying to contain it in every way. But we cannot hear the cry of these people who tell us: help us, and defend us. <br /><br />For this purpose, would it not be useful to know in the first place who provides money and weapons to jihadists, and aim at stopping the flow? <br />These are bodies and groups that operate showing that they are well supplied with arms and money, and one wonders how it is possible that all this passage of arms and resources escapes the control of those who have the duty to monitor and prevent such tragic developments. The question I heard from many is that on "remote control", on who moves things from far away. But I think that, for now, it is difficult to give an answer. <br /><br />You were Nuncio in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Can the current crisis be put in relation with the events of 2003 and the way in which an end was put to that regime? <br />Yes and no. On the one hand, an upheaval in the Country that has created many critical situations and suffering has been produced, even if we must never forget that before there was not a calm and ideal situation. On the other hand, more than ten years have gone by. The more we move away from those events, the more one wonders if what is happening today is just the fault of others and of those facts of the past, or if there are other responsibilities. And we need to ask what has been done in all this time, and what could have been done. <br /><br />Even the Pope has insisted that the victims of what is happening in Iraq are not only Christians, but all minorities. What does this emphasis suggest? <br />Obviously in the West, the situation of Christians is known. But, for example, the Yazidi have asked us to talk about them because - so I have been told - "we are a people with no voice and no one talks about us". The dramatic situations that I have seen and what they are experiencing really makes them the first victims. But there are Shiite villages from which all had to run away. And then the Mandaeans, and all other groups. <br /><br />You spoke with influential political leaders both in Iraqi Kurdistan and Baghdad. Do they still share a unifying perspective for the future of the Country or are the centrifugal forces unstoppable now? <br />Iraq is a composite Country. A political-geographical expression which appeared from 1920 onwards, where the extent of the Country is not perceived as uniformity but as multiplicity. The Authorities and the bishops speak of a mosaic of presences, cultures, and religions. Of course if this mosaic remains intact it has its own beauty and a future. But if one begins to remove the tiles, sooner or later everything can fall apart. <br />The unity of the State is guaranteed by the Constitution, but then it has to be realized in the life of the Country and this is difficult, partly because each group carries their trauma, suffering, long persecution, injustice. Now Iraq is a Country to be rebuilt, and can remain united only if such units and the respect of different identities find space. <br /><br />In the West, some take advantage of the events in Iraq to relaunch the contrast between Christianity and Islam. <br />There is a fact: as I have already said, the attacks affect Christians, Yazidis, Shiites, but also against Sunnis. So the question cannot be set as a conflict between Islam and Christianity. On the other hand, those who are carrying out these terrible actions against minorities do it in the name of an intolerant political-religious ideology. And this is something that should make one think. Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/HAITI - Elections postponed and there is growing uncertainty about the future of the Country au Prince - The Provisional Electoral Council of Haiti has announced that the planned legislative and municipal elections on October 26 have been postponed, causing tension in a Country which has been devastated for years by political and humanitarian crises, in particular the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010 which caused about 300,000 deaths, and the cholera epidemic that killed thousands of people. <br />Earlier this year, the majority of political parties in the Country had signed, through the mediation of the Catholic Church, the agreements that paved the way for the holding of elections . The new electoral law, however, is still blocked, making it impossible to hold the vote. <br />The international community has called on political actors in Haiti to take urgent and rapid measures to ensure that the elections can be held on the fixed date. <br />If the situation continues, this will only increase the chaotic situation in the Country and will discourage potential foreign investors. Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Violence against minorities: a 12-year-old Christian girl raped by a gang - Indignation and outrage in the Christian community of Lahore after the rape of a 12-year-old Christian girl. Muqadas, is the daughter of the Christian Liaqat Masih who has four daughters. As Fides learns Muqadas comes from a poor family and all four girls work as maids in the homes of middle class Muslims. The violence took place on August 2. Muqadas and her older sister Asma were returning home from work, when Muqadas was kidnapped by two Muslim men and three women. They took her inside a school and the two men, identified as Ashraf Alias Achi and Ghaffor Alias Paida raped her repeatedly in turn. <br />The girl was later abandoned. The family went to the police in Lahore and filed a complaint. One of the rapists was arrested and the other has asked for bail. Liaqat Masih’s family is in a state of shock and is assisted by the NGO LEAD, led by the Christian lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, who said to Fides: "We will do everything so that this violence does not go unpunished". The family has already received intimidation to withdraw the complaint. <br />"In Pakistan - Gill explains to Fides - rape is used as an instrument of arbitrary power over Christian girls, who come from poor and marginalized families. It is a form of violence that wants to reiterate the submission to Muslims. The rest of society is not outraged because the victims mostly belong to religious minorities, who are the most vulnerable. Rarely rapists are punished. "Furthermore, he concludes, "rape victims face terrible difficulties; they do not receive adequate medical treatment for sexual assault. Many girls are traumatized and become depressed and in need of psychological assistance". Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/SIERRA LEONE - Seven Recollect missionaries remain alongside the population threatened by Ebola - "Obliged by our pastoral responsibility, we collaborate with the government of Sierra Leone in the effort to raise awareness of the danger of the Ebola virus and how to prevent it from spreading", write the missionaries of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects that work in Sierra Leone, one of the states hardest hit by the epidemic of Ebola. <br />There are seven Recollects who have decided to stay in mission despite the risks. There are four Filipinos and three Spanish who work in two parishes in Makeni. Three other Filipino missionaries who are at home for a rest period cannot go back to Sierra Leone because it is prohibited to travel to Countries at risk. <br />"They take care of the people, they administer the sacraments, preside over the daily prayer with the faithful. This is what we call the apostolate of presence so that people do not feel abandoned. Those who have been affected by the virus feel accompanied, they highlight the fact that the Church suffers with them, that the Church works for them", said Fr. Lauro Larlar, Provincial of the Order for the Philippines. <br />The last toll of the epidemic is 1,350 deaths in West Africa . Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - "In Gaza, in Iraq and in Syria, we are faced with stark and horrifying evidence of the moral bankruptcy of modern warfare", say the Bishops - "In different parts of Africa, in Iraq and Syria and now in Gaza we are faced with stark and horrifying evidence of the moral bankruptcy of modern warfare", say the Bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland in a statement issued at the end of the Plenary Assembly of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference . <br />"War that has become interminable - or self-perpetuating, as in Gaza - solves nothing; it never reconciles but only succeeds in entrenching hatred and division", write the Bishops that invite to eradicate "the structural forms of violence" -"there is little hope for any lasting peace". <br />Bishops define the expulsion and the "martyrdom" of the Iraqi Christian community, heir to a tradition that dates back almost 2,000 years, "absolutely revolting". <br />"The total destruction of ancient dioceses, parishes full of fervor and families because of their attachment to faith is a crime against humanity", reads the document which adds that "we carry in our hearts even other religious traditions of Iraq that suffer the same fate as the Christian community".<br />"We admire many of the great religious teachings of Islam, in particular the focus on the poor and needy. We invite the faithful Muslims who believe in our common humanity to put pressure on the extremists so that they stop oppressing religious communities and instead seek the peace that Islam is committed to promoting", the message concludes. Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/SYRIA - Mission of the Patriarchs in Iraq. The Chaldean Patriarch: no to sectarian militias - The defense of the attacked is an absolute right. But only "the forces of the State should take charge of this defense", while the creation of differentiated militia on ethno-religious basis "can destroy Iraq".<br />This is how - according to Lebanese sources - the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Louis Raphael I expressed himself during his participation in the initiatives and meetings organized by the Delegation of the Patriarchs of the Eastern Churches that arrived on Wednesday, August 20 in Erbil, capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, to express their closeness to refugees from Mosul and other cities which have fallen under the control of the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate. On 18 August, the President of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan Masud Barzani said he was willing to provide weapons to Christian volunteers to form self-defense militias with a mandate to defend their villages currently in the hands of the jihadists. The Chaldean Patriarch also added that in the present situation, speaking in constitutional terms, the proposal to establish an autonomous area in the Nineveh Plain for Christian populations has become possible and according to him "acceptable", adding that such result is obtained "through dialogue and not through conflict". <br />The delegation of the Patriarchs currently on a visit to Iraq are, besides the Chaldean Patriarch, the Maronite Bechara Boutros Rai, the Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III, the Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III and Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II. Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/ARGENTINA - The Church launches an alarm regarding the increase of suicides among teenagers del Estero - "Young people and teenagers are the most valuable asset of a nation and should be a major concern of all those who have responsibilities in their formation" said Mgr. Torrado Mosconi, Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago del Estero , in a message in which he addresses a pressing appeal to families and to the civil community to deal with the tragedy regarding the increase of suicides among teenagers. <br />Mgr. Torrado Mosconi emphasizes the role of education in instilling positive values in young people in order to face the difficulties of life. "One can love children even if one says no to some of their needs. God should be present in homes through daily family prayer, the appreciation of spiritual realities and domestic peace. One should strive to offer important values that give meaning to the effort and sacrifice for the sake of an ideal", wrote the Bishop in the message sent to Fides. <br />"Unfortunately, many young people grow up without the consciousness of God's presence. Without hope, without adequate family support, without real friends, without faith formation, without the opportunity to study or work. There are many who are marginalized by society and are often treated as "leftovers". <br />They want to escape from their situation, sometimes to the point of committing suicide", concluded Mgr. Torrado Mosconi. <br />A report by the Direccion General de Salud y Asistencia Social asserts that in Argentina the number of youth suicides has increased in parallel to the growth of violence among adolescents. Also in Argentina, in 1991-2000 the suicide mortality rate increased from 1.5% to 6.1%, especially in the age group between 15 and 24. "Psycho-social diseases, lack of goals, drug use, lack of role models and values, are key triggers of suicide", says the Argentine report. Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - "Ill-gotten wealth from oil bunkering could be used to destabilize", said the Bishop of Umuahia - Ill-gotten wealth from the theft of the country’s crude oil and its illegal refining could be used to destabilize the country. This is the alarm launched by Bishop Lucius Ugorji, Bishop of Umuahia. The Bishop gave the warning in his keynote address to participants at the one-day Interactive Meeting of Stakeholders of the Niger Delta region.<br />The Bishop posed several questions on the worrisome aspects of the illegal activities being carried out in the country’s oil-rich region - Expressing concern at the aftermath of illegal oil business activities in the region, Bishop Ugorji declared: “From all indications, a lot of money is being made and laundered by many individuals and groups and many others are having their palms well greased by proceeds from the trade.” - He continued: “ .. . what guarantees that these individuals and groups in desiring to maximize their access to crude oil resources or even have exclusive control over them will not turn around and use their ill-gotten gains to wage war against hapless Nigerians or the State?”<br />The local ordinary of Umuahia Diocese added: “Furthermore, how can we prevent this massive looting from becoming a factor in the electioneering process, or be used to fund violence during elections. There are many more questions of this kind that can be raised on the matter of oil theft.” The Bishop further remarked that the already polluted waters of the Niger Delta creeks are further aggravated by toxic wastes from these local artisans adding:”All these pose a great threat to the eco-system and to the welfare of present and future generations in the Niger Delta and beyond.” <br /> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/LEBANON - Maronite Patriarch Rai: united also with Hezbolllah to block the road to the infiltration of the ISIL - The Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites Bechara Boutros Rai said he was ready to meet soon the leader of Hezbollah Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah in order to address together the growing concerns about possible infiltrations in Lebanon of the threat posed by jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that proclaimed the Caliphate in the regions which have fallen under their control in Syria and Iraq. The willingness to meet with the leader of the Lebanese Shiite Party was expressed by the Patriarch on Wednesday, August 20, during statements released to the Lebanese National News Agency at the airport in Beirut, while Cardinal Rai was leaving for Erbil where he is participating in the visit to Iraqi refugees by a delegation of leaders of the Christian Churches of the East which includes Greek Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III, Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III and Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II. In the statements released at the airport, Patriarch Rai criticized the superpowers and the Arab Countries that did not intervene in aid of the Christians who were put to flight by the militia of the Islamic State. With regards to the relations with Hezbollah, Patriarch Rai stressed that "A Dialogue Committee between Bkerké and Hezbollah already exists, and we are ready to hold meetings in this regard". The Primate of the Maronite Church also called on the entire Lebanese people to "unite and take responsibility, in order to face together the great danger of the ISIL which has begun to penetrate in Lebanon". Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Security agents release South Sudanese news editor South - South Sudanese editor who was detained by the country’s national security services on Saturday has been freed.<br />David Ocen, the news editor of the Catholic-owned Bakhita radio, was picked by security agents after the station aired a news bulletin on clashes between pro-government forces and rebels in Unity state . The journalist said he was still in shock because he was held in a dark room for three days where he could not tell day from night. <br />The station was consequently closed and it opening has been delayed over what officials described as demands by the national security agents "for instructions on how the radio will operate". "They want to reduce political programs and this is what we shall discuss tomorrow with them", a Bakhita FM staff told Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity Tuesday.<br />Presently, South Sudanese journalists operate in a vacuum of laws as President Salva Kiir is yet to sign the media bills passed by the national assembly last year. Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - "Only mercy can make justice a reality", said Cardinal Salazar Gómez - "Colombia is capable of mercy", said Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez at the III World Apostolic Congress on Mercy WACOM, held in Bogota from August 15 to 19, which was attended by 4 Cardinals, 7 bishops, 50 priests and several hundreds of religious and lay people from all over the world. <br />The Cardinal said in his speech that despite 50 years of fratricidal war, "only in God's mercy the attitudes of hatred can be abandoned and one can build a country based on social justice, forgiveness and peace".<br />During the Congress, Cuba began the meeting of the victims of the conflict with the delegations of the government and the FARC guerrillas involved in the peace talks . "It was a historic event, a meeting of silence and forgiveness, characterized by deep respect, without indifference", said Fr. Darío Echeverri Gonzalez, Secretary of the Commission for National Reconciliation who attended the event. Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christian leaders in Pakistan: "The international community must wake up" – Condemnation regarding the violence and the massive migration of Iraqi Christians; appeal to the international community to ensure safety to all religious minorities in Iraq: is what Christian Pakistani leaders gathered in Lahore in recent days for an interfaith meeting dedicated to the dramatic situation in Iraq ask for. As Fides learns, Christian leaders of different confessions were present. They all agreed to point out that Christians have been in Iraq since the first century after Christ, and there the apostles Thomas and Thaddeus preached the faith of Christ, therefore they have the right to inhabit the land as all others, Muslims or other religions. <br />Rev. Shahhid Meraj, of the Church of Pakistan , dean of the Cathedral of Lahore, has asked the government of Pakistan to officially condemn the killing of Iraqi Christians and other minorities, helping to ensure the end of cruelty. <br />"The international community must wake up and protect the right of every human being to live according to their beliefs", he said. The Church of Pakistan in this period has prayed for religious minorities in Iraq, for the people of Palestine and Kashmir and for those who are suffering in Pakistan. <br />The Catholic, Fr. Inayat Bernard, rector of St. Mary Seminary in Lahore, thanked Pope Francis, who showed his concern towards Christians and all other religious minorities in Iraq.<br />Special prayers were raised for justice in Pakistan and for the freedom of every person to profess their faith. Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - The number of migrants who are victims of human trafficking increases - "Human trafficking is modern-day slavery that affects mainly women and children", said Mgr. Raúl Vera López, Bishop of Saltillo , who denounced that the number of people who are victims of human trafficking and exploitation is on the rise while authorities do little about it. <br />"Migrants are the sector that suffers the most in Coahuila, and they are part of the population who are completely unprotected", said Mgr. Raúl Vera López. The bishop noted that the problem of trafficking derives from the forced migration of people who seek a better future in the United States, challenging the risks arising from criminal gangs who take advantage of their condition. "Those who are passing are the first victims of organized crime - reiterated the Bishop - there are those who extort money, those who force them to commit illegal activities, and some even prevent them from crossing the border". <br />Mgr. Vera, wants to encourage migrants to denounce these facts, because even now, for fear of reprisals there are very few who do so. Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - Barzani: ready to arm Christian volunteers - The Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, announced that the government of the autonomous Region of northern Iraq is ready to open its doors to Christian volunteers among the Kurdish armed forces by providing them with the means to create self-defense forces in their villages and defend themselves from jihadi militias of the Islamic State . This willingness was expressed in a statement issued by the Presidency of the Region on Monday evening, August 18, after a meeting between Barzani and the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Basil. The statement reiterates that the Government of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan will do "everything in its power" for Christian refugees, and calls on Christians "not to think about emigrating and leaving the Country, because the threat of terrorism is temporary and terrorists will be defeated". On August 14, Barzano had received Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Personal Envoy of the Pope in Iraq. Already on that occasion, Barzani had hoped that Christians would remain in Iraq, recognizing in them a part of the most ancient culture and tradition in the Country. Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200VATICAN - Cardinal Filoni thanks the Pope for his prayers City - Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said he was very moved and thanked Pope Francis for his spontaneous prayer for the "suffering people in Iraq" and for his personal Envoy in those lands. The prayer was expressed at the end of the prayer of the faithful during the Mass for peace and reconciliation celebrated in the Cathedral in Seoul, at the conclusion of Pope Francis' visit in Korea. After praying for world peace, for the Church, for the places of war, for those who suffer from separation and division, for the marginalized and the poor, he also added an unscripted prayer "for Cardinal Filoni who was supposed to be with us but was sent by the Pope to Iraq to help all minorities who suffer in that country. May the Lord be near him in his mission". Tue, 19 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/HONDURAS - The church calls on the authorities to change the situation in prisons Rosa de Copán - "The detainees are in the "suburbs" of society where they suffer from total exclusion, despair and depression", says the National Commission for Prison Pastoral Care of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras in a statement that denounces the terrible situation of detainees in the prisons of the Country. <br />"The conditions of prison centers hinder healthy coexistence and the rehabilitation of inmates", says the document sent to Fides, which recalls that "in 2012 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights had declared the State of Honduras responsible for the deaths of 107 prisoners for structural negligence".<br />The Commission for Prison Pastoral denounces that Honduran prisons are characterized by infernal "unbearable heat, humidity, lack of toilets and showers, deprivation of space for a minimum of privacy, to read, study and pray". It is an environment suitable for group fights and even riots. It is relatively easy to see prisoners infected with various diseases", exacerbated by the "total lack of medicines in small prison infirmaries".<br />The statement concluded with a request to authorities to change this situation despite the economic crisis that the country is experiencing. Tue, 19 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0200