Displaying items by tag: Asia
India has made ’impressive gains’ in its fight against malaria. The number of cases and deaths caused by the mosquito-borne disease has seen a marked drop, according to the WHO. From nearly 20 million cases in 2000, there were just 5.6 million in 2019. In the past two years India has reduced cases by 18% and deaths by 20%. Malaria is now limited to some hilly parts of India, with most of the districts able to reduce it to almost nil. While nearly a billion Indians live in malaria-endemic areas, 80% of cases are reported by just 20% of the population living in the forest-fringe, tribal, and foothills hard-to-reach areas of the country. The people in these places have low awareness of disease prevention and access to health care. India’s prime minister has pledged to eradicate malaria by 2030.
A rare insight into the persecution endured by Christians living under the totalitarian North Korean regime has been given by Sookyung Kang, a Christian who fled her homeland to be able to worship freely without risking her life. She said, ‘The regime tries to control people by idolising and divinising the leaders. I believe the Gospel gives freedom to everyone. But the regime takes away freedom and won’t allow people to think freely.’ North Korea has set up ‘quarantine camps’ for Covid-19 patients, where they are deprived of food and medicine, causing many to die of starvation. Some believers have been executed simply for owning a Bible. Tens of thousands of Christians - sometimes entire families - have been incarcerated in labour camps where they are abused, tortured and worked to death.
A high court in Chhattisgarh state has ordered the district administration of Kondagaon to facilitate the safe return of Christians displaced from three villages after twelve people filed a Public Interest Litigation demanding that security be provided for them. In September the Christians were called to meetings where they were told to recant their Christian faith. When they refused, they were attacked by radical Hindu nationalists and their homes were destroyed. Since the attack, these Christians have remained displaced. ‘We ran for our lives’, said a survivor. ‘The death threats they hurled against us were very frightening. There was no other way than to flee from the village. Our lives are in danger. The villagers have vowed to kill us if we return. Our lives are being badly affected by the dangerous atmosphere created by the villagers.’
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. Early childhood education is critical for all children, particularly during a crisis like the Covid pandemic. For children who have experienced war and displacement - many of whom have lived their whole lives as refugees - it can be a lifeline, healing emotional and developmental wounds caused by years of trauma. The pandemic has hit displaced and vulnerable families the hardest, as in-person programmes have been put on hold for safety concerns. Now the IRC has adapted and uses digital tools to reach children and their families directly in their homes. It equips parents to create a nurturing and predictable home learning environment that fosters children's resilience during times of crisis and provides caregivers with ways to manage their own stress.
Iran has detained a number of foreign nationals and Iranian dual citizens in recent years, many of them on spying charges. Human rights groups have accused Tehran of using the cases as leverage to try to gain concessions from other countries. On 25 November Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian academic serving a 10-year sentence for espionage, was freed in a swap for three jailed Iranians. She has strongly denied all charges against her, as has British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who since 2016 has been in prison, also on spying charges. Her husband Richard said, ‘Nazanin and I are really happy for Kylie and her family. It is an early Christmas present for us all that one more of us is out and on their way home; one more family can begin to heal.’ Amnesty International said, ‘There may now be renewed grounds for hoping that UK-Iranian dual-nationals like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori will also be released in the coming days or week.’
Praise God for the rescue of three teenage girls from online child sexual exploitation in the Philippines. They are receiving trauma-informed care from the city social welfare department. Also, a group of 13 women and men were struggling to rebuild life in freedom after being rescued. An NGO bought new bicycles for them and helped them set up small businesses delivering milk and cloth in their community - where they now earn steady incomes. Pray for more creative ways to support survivors long-term. Praise God that there have been over 100 convictions by government prosecutors for cases of online exploitation of children.
The kings of Jordan and Bahrain flew to Abu Dhabi for an important meeting with crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as Bahrain’s foreign minister Abdullatif al-Zayani was in Israel meeting his Israeli and American counterparts. These important and unprecedented meetings illustrate the tectonic changes emerging in the Middle East. The tone was different in Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi. A Gulf Air flight which arrived in Tel Aviv, with Zayani and US envoy Avi Berkowitz on board, was the first of its kind; very likely Gulf Air will soon join Flydubai and Etihad, which have announced regular flights to Israel. Meetings about peace and the brave new world illustrates how Israel and the Gulf States are moving toward. This area improvement has been midwifed by the USA.
Armenia has begun handing over liberated territory to Azerbaijan as part of a peace accord that ended six weeks of fierce fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Residents of Azerbaijan's Kalbajar district have been occupied by Armenian forces for decades. Now they begin a mass exodus of the mountainous province in the days leading up to the official withdrawal day at the end of November. Some set their homes on fire rather than leave them for Azerbaijanis. A Russian peacekeeping contingent has set up checkpoints and positions as part of the terms that Armenia yields territory which Azerbaijan's forces gained in the fighting. Putin told his Azerbaijani counterpart to take care of churches, monasteries and shrines in areas that Azerbaijan gets under this cease-fire agreement. Moscow's peacekeeping mission, which the military said included soldiers who previously were stationed in Syria, comprises some 2,000 troops for a renewable five-year mission.
With over one billion people, Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world. The majority of them have never heard the name of Jesus, and fewer than 2% of Protestant missionaries are serving among them. In India, Hinduism is much more than a religion; it is a way of life and a cultural identity. Acts of violence and intimidation by militant Hindus are on the rise, particularly against Christians. The barriers to the Gospel are many. But prayer opens doors. Join Christians around the world in prayer for Hindus from8 to 22 November. During this time, Hindus will be celebrating one of their most important holidays, the Festival of Lights (Diwali). Despite the candles and fireworks, these millions remain in darkness, separated from the only true source of light - Jesus Christ. Together let us watch and pray.
Beijing’s new laws will disqualify state elected legislators if they support Hong Kong's independence, refuse to acknowledge China's sovereignty, ask foreign forces to interfere in the city's affairs, or in other ways threaten national security. Four legally-elected legislators have been ejected, causing a mass resignation of most of Hong Kong's pro-democracy lawmakers from parliament. This is an ‘open challenge’ to China’s authority. Many now see Hong Kong's limited democracy as in its death throes. The UK government accused China of breaching its commitments to protect Hong Kong's autonomy. They were promised they could keep some unique freedoms for fifty years. Dominic Raab said, ‘Beijing's imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong constitutes a clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration, breaking its promises again and has undermined Hong Kong's special degree of autonomy.’ The USA called it a move towards one-party dictatorship.