Fides News Englishhttp://www.fides.org/Fides Agency Newsen-usASIA/INDONESIA - Each year 50 thousand deaths due to contaminated water and poor sanitationhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37373-ASIA_INDONESIA_Each_year_50_thousand_deaths_due_to_contaminated_water_and_poor_sanitationhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37373-ASIA_INDONESIA_Each_year_50_thousand_deaths_due_to_contaminated_water_and_poor_sanitationJakarta - Heavy pollution of river water by household and industrial waste in the Indonesian province of West Java, in particular Ciliwung and Citarum, is threatening the health of at least five million people living on the riverbanks, say government officials and water experts. Poor sanitation and hygiene cause 50,000 deaths annually in Indonesia, with untreated sewage resulting in over six million tons of human waste. People use the river for a toilet and children play in it because they have nowhere else to swim. Fishermen on the Ciliwung use blast fishing bombs made of kerosene and fertilizer to kill fish so they are easier to catch - which has worsened pollution.<br />According to KRuHA, which represents more than 30 Indonesian NGOs focusing on safe water access, said none of the capital’s rivers could be viewed as safe for human use. 90 percent of ground water in Jakarta is contaminated by E.coli bacteria. Many infant deaths are caused by this bacteria. E.coli is the main threat to human life from these rivers. The World Health Organization estimates that nationwide more than 20,000 children in this age group die every year from diarrhoea. <br />Dengue fever and malaria, both spread by mosquitoes that thrive in stagnant water, account for an additional 3 percent of overall child deaths: The Ministry of Environment is using educational campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of unsafe water and to end defecation in rivers. Mon, 02 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100AFRICA - "Do not lose hope aroused by the Arab Spring", say the Bishops of North Africahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37372-AFRICA_Do_not_lose_hope_aroused_by_the_Arab_Spring_say_the_Bishops_of_North_Africahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37372-AFRICA_Do_not_lose_hope_aroused_by_the_Arab_Spring_say_the_Bishops_of_North_AfricaVatican City - "Our region is in full transformation, the universal Church knows major transformations, our local Churches are changing: we strongly feel the call of the Lord to be more than ever 'Servants of Hope' in North Africa", say the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of North Africa in their Pastoral Letter sent to Agenzia Fides, which was presented to Pope Francis today, March 2, on the occasion of their Ad Limina visit.<br />"The region of North Africa is geographically and culturally situated at the crossroads of Africa, Europe and the Middle East", the document states. <br />"The dynamics of the 'Arab Spring', issues of regional security and the Middle East, the European economic crisis and migration from sub-Saharan Africa, involve profound changes and new challenges for our region".<br />In particular, the so-called "Arab springs" distinctly had different dynamics in the two Countries included in the area of CERNA. "If in the course of a process of national dialogue Tunisia adopted a new Constitution in January 2014, Libya is experiencing a very worrying situation, where there are still tensions and violence due to the profound destabilization of the State", say the Bishops, who however reiterate: "these difficulties do not undermine the hope" originated from the "Arab spring".<br />The Bishops also argued that the process of democratization is a long phenomenon, "always in the making, in which any attempt to copy or impose existing models would be futile and inappropriate". The document confirms the specificity of the Church in North Africa, engaged in a "dialogue of life" with Muslims that intends to "give a contribution to life and the construction of society, with no political militancy, neither sought nor desired". Mon, 02 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100ASIA/JORDAN - The parish pastoral Councils answer the questions for the Synod on the familyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37371-ASIA_JORDAN_The_parish_pastoral_Councils_answer_the_questions_for_the_Synod_on_the_familyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37371-ASIA_JORDAN_The_parish_pastoral_Councils_answer_the_questions_for_the_Synod_on_the_familyAmman - The members of the Pastoral Council of the Catholic parishes in Jordan gathered on Friday, February 27 at Our Lady Center of Peace in Amman to talk about issues and problems regarding the next Synod on the family and answer the questionnaire of 46 questions sent to all local Churches by the Secretariat of the Synod, as a means of preparation and discernment in view of the synodal meeting scheduled in Rome for next October. The meeting was chaired by Archbishop Maroun Lahham, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and saw the participation of priests, deacons, religious and laity belonging to the pastoral Councils of Misdar, Jabal Luweibdeh, Jabal Al Hussein, Tla 'Al-Ali, Jubaiha, Irbid, Husun, Smakieh, and Zarqa.<br />During the meeting, the participants reflected and analyzed the individual questions and then responded to the list of 46 questions, handing the completed questionnaires to Archbishop Lahham. Mon, 02 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Testimony of Mgr. Vidal: "Promises arrive in Cúcuta, never decisions"http://www.fides.org/en/news/37370-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_Testimony_of_Mgr_Vidal_Promises_arrive_in_Cucuta_never_decisionshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37370-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_Testimony_of_Mgr_Vidal_Promises_arrive_in_Cucuta_never_decisionsCúcuta - "So far Cúcuta is related more with Venezuela than with Colombian hinterland. This is a very busy border, where many cucuteños have family in Venezuela. Venezuelan students come here to study. I thought Cúcuta is like birds, that have no boundaries", says His Exc. Mgr. Julio Cesar Vidal Ortiz, Bishop of the Diocese of Cucuta, Colombia, in a long interview to the newspaper "El Colombiano" sent to Fides.<br />Mgr. Vidal speaks of this Christian community at the border with Venezuela, where he was appointed Bishop on July 16, 2011, after 10 years of episcopate in Montería. Drug trafficking and violence are among the main problems. <br />"In the region there are the FARC, the ELN, the EPL which destabilize the region and Cúcuta" explains the Bishop.<br />The testimony of Mgr. Vidal is very timely after the order of Venezuela to close its borders to prevent alleged military or paramilitary operations by Colombian groups. In this regard, the Bishop said: "The closure of borders has created a serious problem to simple people, poor people, because many here went shopping in San Antonio, in Venezuela".<br />Regarding the support of the Colombian government for this border area, the Bishop said: "Promises arrive in Cúcuta, never decisions. I know they have asked to become 'free zone', to pay less tax or reduce VAT. Several proposals have been made, but there has been no response. So I think that the central government is in debt with Cúcuta in seeking an objective and appropriate solution to the situation that exists here". Mon, 02 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100EUROPE/SPAIN - Not always employment is the way out of social exclusionhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37369-EUROPE_SPAIN_Not_always_employment_is_the_way_out_of_social_exclusionhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37369-EUROPE_SPAIN_Not_always_employment_is_the_way_out_of_social_exclusionCadiz - 24% of the population of the province of Cadiz is in a situation of social exclusion, we are talking about 297,000 people. This reality affects more than 100,000 families in Cadiz. Of these 42,000 live in a situation of extreme poverty. The percentage of people who are at risk of social exclusion in the province is very similar to the rest of Andalusia and Spain. <br />However Cadiz is characterized by the fact that four out of five families have broken up, since one or more members have gone elsewhere in search of work and better living conditions. These data, sent to Fides from the Diocese of Cadiz and Ceuta, were presented to the press by the head of the diocesan Caritas and the Bishop of the diocese, His Exc. Mgr. Rafael Zornoza Boy, the result of tow years of analysis. A staff member of Caritas, at the presentation of the analysis, said: "Unemployment is the gateway for many families to poverty and social exclusion, but employment is not always the way out of social exclusion because the salary received is not sufficient to meet the minimum requirements of a dignified life". Mon, 02 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100AMERICA/COSTA RICA - Unexpected increase of cases of rotavirus in children: a thousand a weekhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37368-AMERICA_COSTA_RICA_Unexpected_increase_of_cases_of_rotavirus_in_children_a_thousand_a_weekhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37368-AMERICA_COSTA_RICA_Unexpected_increase_of_cases_of_rotavirus_in_children_a_thousand_a_weekSan Jose - The most common cause of severe diarrhea in children is due to infection known as rotavirus. Each year, health authorities in Costa Rica are ready to face the peak of the disease starting from the month of March. This year, however, perhaps because of climate change, over a thousand cases had already been recorded at the National Pediatric Hospital in the last weeks of February. A statement from the hospital director, sent to Agenzia Fides, says that fortunately the cases are not serious, even if the sick hospitalized so far are very young children. Many students are also affected by the rotavirus and are cared for at home by family members through proper hydration. In fact, due to dehydration, blood flow is compromised and, for the first days young children vomit, and then suffer from diarrhea which can last up to over a week, and this is why it is necessary for them to be hospitalized. Mon, 02 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100AFRICA/LESOTHO - For observers of the Church: "Elections were held in a peaceful manner"http://www.fides.org/en/news/37367-AFRICA_LESOTHO_For_observers_of_the_Church_Elections_were_held_in_a_peaceful_mannerhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37367-AFRICA_LESOTHO_For_observers_of_the_Church_Elections_were_held_in_a_peaceful_mannerMaseru - "We read that there was 'tension in Lesotho'. There was no tension before or during the elections", says a note of the election observers of the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa on the parliamentary elections, held in Lesotho on February 28 .<br />"When visiting the polling stations both in Maseru and rural areas, we saw voters queue up early in the morning until the opening of the polls, the delegates of the different political parties controlled the arrival of the voters, and double-checked their name. There was a local leader to confirm the identity of the persons in case problems arose in the verification of documents. Everything was well organized", says the note sent to Agenzia Fides.<br />The delegation of IMBISA, which was welcomed wherever it went, did not notice any form of undue pressure on voters or election publicity in the vicinity of the polling stations.<br />Before the vote, in a pastoral letter, the Bishops highlighted the fact that the benefits of the elections are for the entire nation and not just a part. Referring to the coup attempt in early September, the document urged politicians "to put aside their personal aspirations for the good of the nation". Mon, 02 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100ASIA/SYRIA - Anguish for Christians held hostage by jihadists; Syrian Catholic Archbishop Hindo: avoid unnecessary alarmhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37366-ASIA_SYRIA_Anguish_for_Christians_held_hostage_by_jihadists_Syrian_Catholic_Archbishop_Hindo_avoid_unnecessary_alarmhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37366-ASIA_SYRIA_Anguish_for_Christians_held_hostage_by_jihadists_Syrian_Catholic_Archbishop_Hindo_avoid_unnecessary_alarmHassaké - The number of Assyrian and Chaldean Christians of the villages on the river Khabur taken hostage and deported by the jihadists in their strongholds increases to more than three hundred. "If the first reports spoke of 90 seized - refers to Agenzia Fides Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo - "now we can say that the hostages in the hands of the jihadists are around 350".<br />According to what Samir Taji, a member of the Al-Nusra Front said to the Kurdish website ARA News, the militia of the Islamic State first held Assyrian prisoners - including women and children - in a detention center at Mount Abdulaziz, then dispersed them in areas and centers under their control, including their stronghold of Raqqa. Among the prisoners there are forty Kurdish soldiers and Assyrian militiamen of the Brigade of self-protection Sutoro.<br />Meanwhile, at the moment, the flow of displaced people to the cities of Hassaké and Qamishli and other urban centers has ended. Yesterday even fifty Arab Bedouins, fleeing from the offensive area of the jihadists, arrived in Hassaké.<br />In this uncertain context, Archbishop Hindo says it is important to avoid the spread of uncontrolled and unverifiable rumors. "The Christians who have fled from the villages of Khabur - the Syrian Catholic Archbishop explains to Fides - tell us that during the assault of the jihadists, four Assyrian militants, members of the self-defense militia known as the Assyrian Sutoro were killed. Another Christian must be added to the list, who was burned to death because his shop was set on fire by jihadists. Perhaps he was also armed and had tried to oppose those of the Islamic State. At the moment, there are is no confirmed news of more deaths".<br />Mgr. Hindo also renewed his criticism regarding the management of yet another humanitarian emergency on behalf of aid organizations: "Only yesterday - reports the Archbishop - Red Crescent distributed 125 food parcels, when thousands are available here in Hassaké. So far, the refugees had received aid only from the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate". Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100ASIA/INDIA - New episodes of violence against Christian churcheshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37365-ASIA_INDIA_New_episodes_of_violence_against_Christian_churcheshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37365-ASIA_INDIA_New_episodes_of_violence_against_Christian_churchesNew Delhi - New episodes of violence against Christian communities and buildings in India have taken place. A case of vandalism in the church was reported in Goa, western India. Unidentified men hit and damaged a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in a parish in a village. The faithful are concerned about the desecration of the place.<br />In another Indian state, Kerala, south India, a Christian cemetery in the district of Pathanamthitta was vandalized, where graves and tombstones were destroyed for two consecutive days. Even the cemetery wall was defaced by graffiti.<br />In Mangalore, in the state of Karnataka, in central India, the windows of a Catholic prayer hall on the outskirts of the city were shattered. According to local Christians "some anti-social elements are trying to create panic and insecurity in society".<br />A forum of Christian NGOs said that "the attacks and the frequent acts of vandalism against Christian targets in different parts of the country are worrying: the civil authorities have a duty to stop the violence, ensure peace and harmony in society, protect the rule of law and religious freedom". Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100AMERICA/MEXICO - The number of child laborers, exploited and often unpaid continues to increasehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37364-AMERICA_MEXICO_The_number_of_child_laborers_exploited_and_often_unpaid_continues_to_increasehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37364-AMERICA_MEXICO_The_number_of_child_laborers_exploited_and_often_unpaid_continues_to_increaseMexico City - In 2013 about 2 million 500 thousand working children, between 5 and 17 years of age were registered in Mexico. They represent 8% of the total child population in this age group. Seven out of 10 live in places with less than 100 thousand inhabitants, 22% are subject to the economic conditions of the family, and 23% suffer constraints in order to study. This is the outcome of the findings in the latest report prepared by the Network for the Rights of Children in Mexico that highlights structural problems regarding the welfare and economic development of boys, girls and adolescents. The conditions of poverty and inequality of Mexican children force thousands of children to work, 15% of them work more than 48 hours per week and 40% do not receive any financial remuneration. The data shows that 36% of working children do not attend school, and 61% work and study. <br />9 out of 10 minors who work as domestic servants, are girls or teenagers. Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100AFRICA/BENIN - Service centers for more than 500 needy childrenhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37363-AFRICA_BENIN_Service_centers_for_more_than_500_needy_childrenhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37363-AFRICA_BENIN_Service_centers_for_more_than_500_needy_childrenPorto-Novo - There are many children who live in a state of poverty in Benin. To address this phenomenon, there are various initiatives. Among these is an ongoing project of the Spanish NGO Educo together with the local organization Foyer Don Bosco, to help more than 500 children from various cities of the southern African Country, Ouémé, Plateau and Littoral. Twice a week, educators go around the markets in search of children who live on the streets, to ensure their safety and provide assistance in the "shacks" that the organization has in these villages. These shacks are a kind of makeshift classrooms, where educators and experts assist children in recreational, cultural and sports activities, as well as providing basic education, especially literacy. Educators also try to meet the children’s parents to determine, through social studies, their condition and evaluate whether there is a chance for them to return to their families or at school. Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100AMERICA/MEXICO - 5 months after the death of the students of Ayotzinapa: a calm but critical attitudehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37362-AMERICA_MEXICO_5_months_after_the_death_of_the_students_of_Ayotzinapa_a_calm_but_critical_attitudehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37362-AMERICA_MEXICO_5_months_after_the_death_of_the_students_of_Ayotzinapa_a_calm_but_critical_attitudeZacatecas - Yesterday, February 26, five months after the disappearance of the 43 students of Iguala , the Bishop of the diocese of Zacatecas, His Exc. Mgr. Sigifredo Noriega Barceló, said that this fact represents a very sad reality that changes the vision and personality of the country. Mgr. Noriega expressed his confidence in the authorities and civil society. This means there is a calm, but always critical attitude, because it is the best way to find solutions. "We are not just talking about the students and their families, but here we have a very old problem that we have not been able to overcome; I hope this moment will help us to become better Mexicans with regards to reflection and criticism".<br />This is what Mgr. Noriega Barceló said during a meeting with students of the "Benemérita Escuela Normal Manuel Ávila Camacho" , in which he had been invited to propose a conference on Education regarding values.<br />The note sent to Fides by the diocese informs that, after describing the moral, ethical and religious values, the Bishop called on young people to carry out the synthesis of the transformation of Mexico starting from classrooms. He reiterated that "the educational model does not respond to the new times because the importance of values goes towards technology and science, but this is not enough". "Technique, knowledge and abilities are not able by themselves to restore the social fabric, an integral, non-exclusive, open and tolerant vision for a pluralistic society with a transcendent vision is needed" he concluded. Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100AFRICA/DR CONGO - A priest killed in the east of the Country; the Bishop of Goma denounces insecurity in the areahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37361-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_A_priest_killed_in_the_east_of_the_Country_the_Bishop_of_Goma_denounces_insecurity_in_the_areahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37361-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_A_priest_killed_in_the_east_of_the_Country_the_Bishop_of_Goma_denounces_insecurity_in_the_areaKinshasa - The treasurer of the parish of Mweso , Father Jean-Paul Kakule Kyalembera, was killed in an apparent robbery attempt on the evening of 25 February.<br />"It appears to be an act of banditry" says to Agenzia Fides His Exc. Mgr. Théophile Kaboy Ruboneka, Bishop of Goma. "The priest was closing the doors of the church when he discovered one or more gunmen who were hiding somewhere. The criminals fired without hesitation, hitting him in the abdomen and head. Fr. Kakule died immediately".<br />Mgr. Kaboy adds that "three suspects have been arrested and are being subjected to questioning. The body of Fr. Kakule was transported to Goma. The Mass and the funeral will be celebrated tomorrow".<br />The Bishop of Goma highlights that "in our diocese there are many gangs that terrorize the population and there are too many weapons in circulation. Nuns are among the victims of violence and extortion, who are threatened with death if they do not pay a ransom of $ 4,000. The situation remains very dangerous", concluded Mgr. Kyalembera.<br />According to information sent to Agenzia Fides, the pastor of the same church in which Fr. Kakule was killed, had escaped an murder attempt in November. <br />Also in North Kivu, there has been no news of the three Assumptionist priests kidnapped in their parish of Notre-Dame des Pauvres in Mbau, 22 km from Beni since October 19, 2012. A fact that was recalled in a note of the Congolese Bishops' Conference on the killing of Fr. Kakule, which concludes: "after the abduction of the three Assumptionist priests, the Church of the DRC is still mourning the killing of a priest whose reasons remains unclear". Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100AMERICA/VENEZUELA - The Bishops: "Stop murderous violence!"http://www.fides.org/en/news/37360-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_The_Bishops_Stop_murderous_violencehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37360-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_The_Bishops_Stop_murderous_violenceSan Cristobal - The Bishops of Venezuela have asked Venezuelan authorities to stop violence and not to resort to "methods or weapons that are contrary to the law", making clear reference to the death of the 14-year-old Kluiverth Roa, who was killed by a policeman. "We urge civil authorities, military and police not to employ methods or weapons in contrast with the law and the dignity of human beings", said the statement signed yesterday, February 26, by His Exc. Mgr. Mario Moronta, Bishop of San Cristobal, the city where the boy was murdered , and sent to Fides.<br />Mgr. Moronta reminded the security forces that "it is their duty" to maintain order, be respectful of the law and human rights", at the same time reiterated that "to protest is a civil right", to be exercised within the law and must be "peaceful".<br />Also yesterday, February 26, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, asked the government to "prohibit the use of lethal force to control demonstrations" and called for "the punishment of those who are guilty", both regarding the murder of Klievert Roa and other young students, victims of police officers.<br />In the note, also signed by the auxiliary Bishops of Caracas, sent to Agenzia Fides, Cardinal Urosa said: "We deplore the recent murders of several young people in Táchira, Zulia and Caracas; two of them by security officials of the State". At the same time, he expressed his condolences to the families.<br />"We must overcome attitudes such as the desire of easy wealth and corruption, political pride, arrogance and lust of power, selfishness, laziness, hatred and violence. And we have to save the principles of legality, legitimacy and morality that support the fabric of social life", said the Cardinal, who concludes with the sentence:"Stop murderous violence". Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100ASIA/INDONESIA - Lenten Mission in the suburbs in Jakartahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37359-ASIA_INDONESIA_Lenten_Mission_in_the_suburbs_in_Jakartahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37359-ASIA_INDONESIA_Lenten_Mission_in_the_suburbs_in_JakartaJakarta - For the faithful in Jakarta Lent is a special time for mission in the suburbs. The communities of the archdiocese, from the biggest parishes to the smallest, from religious congregations to lay groups and associations, trying to respond to the appeal launched by Pope Francis, have launched a special pastoral commitment to reach and bring the Gospel in situations of hardship, poverty, marginalization.<br />The mission in the suburbs is the central theme of the pastoral Letter issued for Lent by the Archbishop of Jakarta, His Exc. Mgr. Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, and delivered to all local communities. <br />In the text, the Archbishop asks us to pray "so that each of us, families and our communities are grateful and caring" encouraging all the faithful to "embody the spirit of gratitude".<br />Lent is "a time of spiritual pilgrimage that will be more meaningful if it is marked by prayer", which allows you to "reap the fruits of redemption of the new life given to us by God", writes Mgr. Suharyo.<br />The Archbishop reflects on "the dynamics of the Eucharist" and proposes it as a model for every believer: every Christian is called to "become bread" offering himself for the lives of others. Im particular accompanying and taking care of "the lepers of our time", the marginalized of today, those who are rejected and abandoned, live in poverty, are victims of human trafficking or crime, and their human dignity is widely trampled. Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100AFRICA/LESOTHO - Elections: a delegation of Bishops of Southern Africa as observer in the national electionshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37358-AFRICA_LESOTHO_Elections_a_delegation_of_Bishops_of_Southern_Africa_as_observer_in_the_national_electionshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37358-AFRICA_LESOTHO_Elections_a_delegation_of_Bishops_of_Southern_Africa_as_observer_in_the_national_electionsMaseru - A delegation of the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa is in Lesotho as observer in the national elections to be held on February 28th. In a note sent to Agenzia Fides, His Exc. Mgr. José Luis, Bishop of Manzini , recalls that IMBISA is a liaison and pastoral collaboration body among the Episcopal Conferences of Angola and Sao Tome ; Lesotho ; Mozambique ; Namibia ; Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland ; and Zimbabwe .<br />In 2012 on the occasion of the elections that were held in Zimbabwe, IMBISA decided to form a group of Bishops, one for each member Country, as an election observer.<br />Over the years, the IMBISA team was able to meet several southern African leaders, such as President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, and that of Mozambique, Armando Guebuza, and has visited several Countries to learn from the experience of other election observers.<br />The group sent to Lesotho consists of the Bishops of Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland and two lay people from Mozambique and Zimbabwe, as well as Fr. Dos Reis who coordinates the IMBISA office for Justice and Peace.<br />Early elections in Lesotho are very important because they take place six months after a failed coup . Thu, 26 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Military offensive in Mindanao; the Bishop in Basilan: "For peace, sincerity is needed"http://www.fides.org/en/news/37357-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Military_offensive_in_Mindanao_the_Bishop_in_Basilan_For_peace_sincerity_is_neededhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37357-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Military_offensive_in_Mindanao_the_Bishop_in_Basilan_For_peace_sincerity_is_neededBasilan - There is no peace in Mindanao. After the massacre in Mamapasano, on 25 January, in the southern Philippines, armed forces have launched a military offensive against fighters of the "Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters" , to "protect communities attacked by radical elements", as have informed the leaders of the military command of Western Mindanao. "There are at least 20,000 displaced people, victims of violent attacks by the BIFF in the hinterland villages. We will do our best to protect people and allow them to return to their homes", said a military spokesman.<br />In parallel, another military operation has been launched to hit the militants of the "Abu Sayyaf" terrorist group in the province of Sulu, small islands that connect Mindanao to Malaysian Borneo. At least 14 terrorists have been killed and 19 injured: this is the toll from clashes in which about 300 Islamic militants are engaged against the Rangers and Special Forces.<br />"Tension has increased after the episode in Mamapasano. There have been demonstrations of Islamist rebel groups. Now we have heard via radio of this military offensive that is worrying. But with these terrorist groups, it was inevitable that, sooner or later, one would reach military confrontation", says Mgr. Martin Jumoad, Bishop of the Prelature of Isabela, on the island of Basilan. <br />"For peace – he notes - an effort of sincerity is needed, especially by Islamic groups. One cannot speak of peace when weapons are used. The galaxy of Muslim groups is often indistinct: legal groups and recognized as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and illegal groups and terrorists tend to mix up. Muslim groups have to isolate the terrorists "notes the Bishop. On the "Bangsamoro Basic Law", which is before Parliament, the Bishop said: "The law must serve to draw an agreement that is respectful of the Constitution, a peace that guarantees the welfare of all, with an inclusive approach, considering Muslims, Christians and lumads . This is the path towards good, just and lasting peace in Mindanao". Thu, 26 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100ASIA/HOLY LAND - Arson attack against the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Jerusalemhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37356-ASIA_HOLY_LAND_Arson_attack_against_the_Orthodox_Theological_Seminary_in_Jerusalemhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37356-ASIA_HOLY_LAND_Arson_attack_against_the_Orthodox_Theological_Seminary_in_JerusalemJerusalem - In the early hours of today, Thursday 26 February, an arson attack damaged the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate's Theological Seminary of Jerusalem, not far from the Old Town. The fire devastated a hall of the seminar and some annexes. The unknown attackers also wrote blasphemous sentences against Christ on the walls, written in Hebrew.<br />The act was immediately Condemned, with a statement sent to Agenzia Fides - by the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.<br />The way in which the attack was carried out and the writings on the walls suggest that the attack against the Greek-Orthodox Seminary represents yet another episode in the long series of desecration and intimidation committed by groups of extremist Jewish settlers to the detriment of Christian monasteries, churches and cemeteries starting from February 2012. Since then, militant extremist groups close to the settler movement have also led attacks against mosques frequented by Palestinian Arabs of Muslim religion. Yesterday Jewish extremists burned a mosque in the city of Jabaa, southwest of Bethlehem. Thu, 26 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100ASIA/SYRIA - The jihadists of the Islamic State deport Christian prisoners of the villages of Khaburhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37355-ASIA_SYRIA_The_jihadists_of_the_Islamic_State_deport_Christian_prisoners_of_the_villages_of_Khaburhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37355-ASIA_SYRIA_The_jihadists_of_the_Islamic_State_deport_Christian_prisoners_of_the_villages_of_KhaburHassaké - The number of Christians in the villages of the valley of Khabur captured by the jihadists of the Islamic State in the northeastern Syrian province of Jazira increases. According to updates by Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, ordinary of the Syrian Catholic Archieparchy in Hassaké-Nisibis, more than 250 Assyrian and Chaldean inhabitants of the villages appear to be in the hands of the jihadists, and were deported by them towards their strongholds in the Sheddadi area, 40 km south of Hassaké.<br />"From there - refers Archbishop Hindo - unconfirmed rumors say that the jihadis are celebrating. We are trying to open up channels of negotiation through Arab Muslim leaders in contact with some sheikh. We are concerned about the fate of the hostages, among whom there are many elderly people, many women and children".<br />The Archbishop does not confirm rumors concerning murders and rapes committed by jihadists against the Christian populations, and raises questions about the raids carried out by international contingents against the positions of the Islamic state in Syria. "Before - refers to Fides Mgr. Hindo - we heard the planes at about three in the morning. In the past four days air operations have been suspended. I wonder why". Thu, 26 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - A simple ambulance service can save the lives of hundreds of mothers and childrenhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37354-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_A_simple_ambulance_service_can_save_the_lives_of_hundreds_of_mothers_and_childrenhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/37354-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_A_simple_ambulance_service_can_save_the_lives_of_hundreds_of_mothers_and_childrenJuba - In South Sudan, 90% of women give birth at home. In situations of complications related to childbirth, it is necessary to intervene with an emergency service. A network of mobile phones, an always active ambulance service, the continued availability of quality health services in the hospital by a committed staff, although extremely small, have allowed the hospital in Yirol, in the State Lakes, to increase the number of births - 100% in three years, from 2011 to 2014, reaching 1,461. This is thanks to the partnership between the Italian NGO, Doctors with Africa Cuamm and the Ministry of Health, with the support of the Health Pooled Fund , fund backed by the governments of Britain, Australia, Canada, Sweden and the European Union with special focus on maternal and child health in South Sudan. In the district of Yirol West, Lakes State, a note sent to Agenzia Fides by CUAMM highlights that potholed roads and floodings during the rainy season makes the simplest of movements towards the hospital in the county almost impossible. An ambulance service and a handful of committed staff beats bad roads and saves mothers’ lives. Thu, 26 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0100