Displaying items by tag: War
Up to 1,000 people – including priests and church leaders – were killed in recent attacks in Ethiopia. A Belgium-based nonprofit organisation released reports of 1,000 people hiding in an Orthodox church in Aksum, thought to contain the Ark of the Covenant. They were brought out and shot in the square. 750 were definitely murdered, and possibly more of the injured died later. Inside Ethiopia there is political conflict. The government’s term of office ended in September, and the May elections were cancelled due to coronavirus. This has created political unrest where Christians and Muslims are dying in a long line of fatal assaults against innocent people in the Tigray region. 154 were killed in December in Maryam Dengelat, and ten from one family were killed on Christmas Day. Also, Eritrean troops have been killing dozens.
Fighting continues despite an agreed ceasefire; the Red Cross reports ‘hundreds killed’ in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey and Israel are offering drone support and technologies. Azerbaijan wants to gain control of as much of its claimed territory as possible. Armenians have mobilised to stop it. The Red Cross reports indiscriminate shelling by both sides into towns and cities far from contested areas. On 21 October Russian bombers made a powerful air strike on a convoy and assembly point with Syrian mercenaries in Nagorno-Karabakh. However researchers found old video footage re-edited and wrongly labelled as portraying recent events. While the majority of online media is news reports, official government information or campaign slogans and images, there is doctored or old footage. Disinformation in conflicts is not uncommon, where accessing accurate information can prove difficult. Pray for peace in this part of the Caucasus: it’s a crisis entangling Russia, Turkey, Israel, Iran, and Azeri and Armenian diasporas.
Starvation is being intentionally used as a war tactic in South Sudan’s brutal conflict, a UN-backed human rights panel report stated. South Sudan gained independence in 2011 but descended into conflict 2½ years later, following tensions between President Salva Kiir and his deputy. Most South Sudanese are Christian, whereas the majority in Sudan belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. Religion deeply influences governance and daily life, playing a dominant role in the nation's politics. The brutal fighting has caused incalculable suffering to civilians, and resulted in staggering levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition. 7.5 million South Sudanese, in several areas, currently require humanitarian assistance. Both governments and opposition forces have deliberately used the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in these areas, sometimes as an instrument to punish non-aligning communities, as in the case of Jonglei.
Yemen’s Saudi-backed government has accused the Houthis of covering up a large outbreak of coronavirus in areas that they hold, and has called for urgent global assistance to help their war-ravaged health sector deal with coronavirus. The United Nations warned that the country could suffer a ‘catastrophic’ food security situation due to the pandemic. The WHO said that the virus is spreading undetected among the population in the country, control of which is divided between the government in the south and the Houthi group in the north.
At a time when Yemen is scrambling to respond to coronavirus and ensure that hospitals can treat the patients, the country has entered the sixth year of a war that has all but decimated its healthcare system. The multiparty war has not spared hospitals or health workers. More than the violence and destruction, the new threat of the virus will complicate an already disastrous and entirely man-made humanitarian crisis. Yemen’s president has called for new measures and efforts to confront the spread of coronavirus and instructed the health ministry to send medical supplies and medical teams urgently to cities with the virus. The former deputy prime minister said, ‘A comprehensive cease-fire in Yemen and the release of all detainees, prisoners and abductees are humanitarian necessities, in order to devote efforts to protect the Yemeni people from the potential coronavirus pandemic.’
It has been almost ten years since the horrific war began. The Syrian army has retaken most of the land (except Idlib). Many believe that what happens here could be the culmination of the entire war. Recent devastating airstrikes and ground operations have forced millions to run again. But to where? No nation wants them. Refugee camps are full, and it is winter. This has the potential to be the worst refugee and humanitarian crisis in Syria yet. An incredibly fragile ceasefire was declared, bringing a tense calm. But for these traumatised masses, it was too late. Bad news has been coming out of Syria for so long, we hardly even notice any more. But Jesus does. Let us not give up praying for peace in the nation and in every heart in Syria.
Haya was nine months pregnant when she fled from IS soldiers with her family and miraculously reached a hospital just as she went into labour. Fighting was fierce and staff were caring for the wounded as she gave birth. Then bombing increased and everyone had to leave the hospital. Haya couldn’t move. Her temperature was dropping fast; she told the nurses she was dying, and asked them to give her baby to her husband and leave her behind. Not long afterwards she felt a very warm hand touching her, moving her down the stairs, and a voice said, ‘Do not be afraid: I am the Lord Jesus Christ, and I am by your side.’ Upon arriving at the exit doors, she felt a surge of energy and was able to flee the bombing. She is now safe with her family and baby, and says on that day there were two new births: her baby and herself, as she became a strong believer in Christ.
Syrian forces backed by Russian fighter jets recaptured key government positions as Turkey warned of swift revenge if more of its troops are attacked. Syria's army is trying to capture all of the country's last rebel-held territory. Consequently, more people have fled from fighting in Syria over the past 10 weeks than at any other time in the nine-year-old conflict. Pray for all the internally displaced Syrians from western Aleppo’s countryside, fleeing with the only belongings that they can carry, uncertain if they will ever return to normal life. Pray for those who have sheltered in the city of Idlib. On 11 February two UN agencies said it could become a graveyard if hostilities continue. Currently Syrian government forces are shelling their way northwards. Turkey, which backs the rebels and is fearful of additional refugees, has retaliated militarily. Displaced civilians are caught in between. 700,000 people have fled since December, mostly women and children.
Bible translator Angus Abraham Fung, working with the Aghem Bible translation project in Cameroon, was among seven people said to have been killed in an overnight attack. His wife’s arm was cut off, according to a ministry source. The attack was carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Cameroon’s violence-ridden Anglophone region where separatists are fighting for independence. Fung, in his sixties, had worked for years on a New Testament translation in the Aghem language. Although it was completed in 2016 and over 3,000 copies have been published, distribution has not happened because of the war in the region. Pray for the swift recovery of his wife and for God’s comfort to all who mourn the death of the seven men. Pray also for the success of all literacy efforts to bring the word of God to people whose language has never been written down before, both in Cameroon and across the nations.
In 2014 Abu Jaber's al-Shaitat tribe stood up to challenge IS in their oil-rich lands. IS hunted 700 - 1,000 men, shot some and beheaded others, filming their slaughter as a lesson for others. The 90,000 members of the al-Shaitat tribe in villages along the Syria-Iraq border were defeated. IS was at its peak, holding an area the size of Britain. Abu Jaber went on the run. Now is the moment that he has waited for - he wants revenge. IS’s defeat is of great global significance. However, for the sons, nephews and cousins of the al-Shaitat men who were massacred, it is an intimate affair. The victory has levelled towns and villages, leaving hundreds of civilians dead. We can pray for God to send mission workers to the area to help with rebuilding homes and transforming the lives of communities; giving hope, healing wounded souls and creating spaces for healthy rebirths.