Displaying items by tag: India
Over 1,200 girls in Rajasthan started a movement against child marriages, which saw a spike during the Covid pandemic. Nearly 30% of South Asian women aged 20 to 24 were married before they turned 18. While the Indian government has not maintained comprehensive data, international organisations say child marriages could be a major fallout of the pandemic. By June 2020, only three months into lockdown, 92,203 interventions had been made by ChildLine. 35% of those interventions were about child marriages. Saira Bano, 17, wants to be a teacher and help other girls become independent. She heard of a group of girls from marginalised communities who were starting a campaign to create awareness around child marriage. ‘That got my hopes up,’ said Saira. ‘I attended their meeting and learned that the state government has a scholarship scheme in place to ensure girls like me don’t drop out of school.’
Christians are increasingly being persecuted violently: by brutal IS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Hindu extremists in India. Release International issued a report on persecution trends in 2021. It is a wake-up call to take our prayers for our persecuted family to new levels. Nigerian attacks are driven by Islamist ideologies to destroy ‘the infidels’. 300 Christians remain detained without trial inside Eritrea. The Chinese government is increasing its ‘clean-cup’ of anything that does not advance the communist agenda. North Korea’s policy against Christians is the longest, harshest persecution in recorded history. Iranians constantly fear they are under surveillance when they meet secretly. The pressure has led to an exodus from Iran that will continue in 2021. Egyptian Christian converts from a Muslim background will continue to pay a high price for their faith and will be expelled from their families, divorced, and lose their employment.
Across Nigeria 1,470 Christians have been murdered and 2,200 abducted since January. The most recent offence was in Kaduna State when eight Christians were killed and a church was burned down. Pray for an end to such attacks by Fulani Muslim herdsmen and jihadists. In Burkina Faso jihadists ambushed a baptism and killed 15 of the Christians. Al-Qaeda and IS have been growing in West Africa since January. Pray for God's peace for the many who are living in fear and protection over those who ran away. In India’s Rajasthan state 15 radical Hindu nationalists carrying swords, sickles, and a gun attacked the family of a pastor after they all refused to renounce their Christian faith. The assailants killed the pastor’s 52-year-old father. Pray for God to strengthen and encourage church planters and house churches in different Hindu-dominant villages. Armenian Christian gravestones are used to build roads in Azerbaijan as they seek to eradicate evidence of Armenian culture and identity.
Cyclone Yaas has hit the eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal. Nearly two million people were evacuated from West Bengal prior to its arrival. Yaas is the second powerful cyclone to hit India in just over a week, bringing tidal surges with waves higher than rooftops and gusts above 95 mph. Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed, two airports were closed, and train services were cancelled ahead of the storm. West Bengal reported 20,000 mud houses and temporary shelters damaged or destroyed. Last week Cyclone Tauktae resulted in mass evacuations and over 150 deaths. Both Yaas and Tauktae halted Covid prevention efforts, as mass evacuations took precedence. Odisha officials said they had suspended testing, vaccinations, and a door-to-door health survey in three districts. The coastguards have deployed ships and hovercraft along the coast to execute the relief operation.
Tauktae, the strongest storm on record to hit India, killed over 40 people after it made landfall on 17 May. Branches of the air force and navy are scouring the sea to rescue personnel from oil rigs and vessels that were in the path of the cyclone. One barge sank with 261 people: 188 were rescued, 26 died, and 47 are missing. Other barges ran aground. Deaths were caused by lightning strikes, collapsed buildings, falling trees, floods and fallen live electricity poles in Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and Goa. The cyclone caused winds of 125 mph when it made landfall. As Tauktae battered the west coast, another cyclone is likely to hit the east coast. A low-pressure area is very likely to form over the north Andaman Sea and the adjoining east-central Bay of Bengal around 22 May, with the potential to intensify into a cyclone.
The entire Indian delegation in the UK for G7 talks must self-isolate after two Covid cases were detected. India's foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar pulled out of face-to-face talks, saying he was aware of exposure to possible Covid positive cases. India is not in the G7 group of nations, but delegates from the country had been invited as guests. Jaishankar met home secretary Priti Patel in person on 4 May, but will now meet delegates virtually. The G7 consists of seven advanced economies - UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the USA. Their official summit will be next month, but ministers from India, Australia, South Korea and South Africa have been invited as guests as the UK tries to deepen ties with other regions. India is currently on the UK's red list, meaning travel from there is banned, but some people are exempt, including representatives of a foreign country.
Hospitals rely on daily oxygen deliveries, but they are constantly sending desperate messages for extra supplies. A doctor described the situation: ‘Once you've emptied your main tank, there is nothing to fall back on’. Delhi is running out of cremation space for Covid dead. Pyres burn in families’ gardens. One doctor says hospital patients dying without oxygen prevents him sleeping: ‘I should be concentrating on treating my patients, not running around to get oxygen.’ Many hospitals face the same ordeal. Federal officials reported ‘no shortage of oxygen’, and say the challenge has come from transportation. People are paying a price for political wrangling between the state and federal governments. The price is their life. In November a parliamentary standing committee on health warned of inadequate oxygen supplies and ‘grossly inadequate’ government hospital beds. On 5 May the Supreme Court decided against immediately punishing Indian officials for failing to end an erratic supply. However, significant amounts of oxygen and ventilators are now reaching India from Europe and the USA.
Harrowing scenes from India have shocked the world, as it struggles with soaring Covid cases. But the outbreak isn't just India’s crisis - it's a crisis for everyone. ‘Viruses don’t respect borders, nationalities, age, sex or religion; what’s playing out now unfortunately has been played out in other countries’, said the World Health Organisation's chief scientist. We can pray for travel restrictions, multiple tests and quarantine to prevent infections leaking out and for enough vaccines to be available across the nation. Pray for misinformation and mistrust to be replaced by trust and positive take up of Immunisation. Dr Jeff Barrett, director of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative, said, ‘The higher the number of cases a country has, the more likely new variants will emerge. Every single infection gives the virus a chance to evolve.’ A major concern is that mutations could arise, rendering vaccines ineffective. Pray for God to give medics stamina and hope as they double down on hospital care and vaccination.
Kumbh Mela began this month. Hundreds of thousands of ash-smeared devout Hindus jostled to dip into the Ganges hoping to wash away their sins, while India reported a record surge in coronavirus infections. Huge crowds entered the river on special bathing days in the month-long festival. Health authorities had to pull back a Covid testing crew to avoid a stampede-like situation. 650,000 devotees bathed in the river on bathing day; many failed to observe social distancing. Infections in the city are over 500 daily since Kumbh Mela. It was just 25 to 30 last month. Hotels are isolation shelters for those infected. The government refused to call off the festival, fearing backlashes from religious leaders in the Hindu-majority country. New Covid cases hit a record 184,372 in 24 hours, more than double the figure at the start of the month. The festival has become a super-spreader.
The NHS said anyone who currently qualifies for their Covid-19 jab (aged over 50 or in at-risk categories) should book their first dose of Covid-19 jabs before 29th March when slots are set to dry up. Officials expect a slowdown in vaccine supplies in April and medics will be focusing on providing second doses. Ministers say the plan to offer a first dose to all adults by July is on track. However NHS England said no first appointments should be booked next month for people under the age of 50 unless they fall into a higher priority group (those who are clinically vulnerable). The reduction in the UK's Covid vaccine supply is partly due to delays in deliveries from India of five million Oxford-AstraZeneca doses. Indian foreign ministry sources said they have placed a temporary hold on all exports of vaccines amid a rising number of domestic cases.