As a statue in Lisbon is ‘jokingly’ and ‘inappropriately’ fitted with a face mask, new restrictions have been imposed on the city following a spike in coronavirus cases. Portugal has gone from a European ‘miracle’ to a partial outcast in a matter of weeks, amid a series of setbacks to the country's reopening plans. The capital, Lisbon, and the surrounding metropolitan area woke up on 23 June to increased restrictions and more power for police to enforce them, following a series of illegal parties with as many as 1,000 revelers in recent days. Prime minister Costa imposed new controls just days after celebrating his government's Champions League final phase coup.
From Morocco to Iraq there are various forms of lockdowns, strains on hospitals, food shortages, even martial law. These strains put more pressure on already-stressed communities. The potential spread of the disease among refugees and displaced populations could be catastrophic. Many are persecuted believers with no financial safety net and poor medical infrastructures. For war-torn Syria, the pandemic has taken the situation from bad to worse. ‘We are free from the armed militia in Aleppo, but prices here are soaring’, said Kareem, ‘We have all signed up to receive bread from the government, and the needs are overwhelming.’ In Turkey, many are Iranian converts from Islam who fled Iran after being imprisoned or tortured for their faith. Turkish locals now blame them for the spread of coronavirus. The government has cut off all assistance, and many Christians have lost their employment. The Bible advises to go to the Lord with trials and problems; this virus is a serious problem.
Vincent al-Boustani’s local council runs a tight ship. Staff and volunteers conduct 24/7 patrols, cameras monitor the streets, and motorcycles are banned after 9 pm. A policeman stands guard to provide security amid rising crime as the economy collapses and the crisis pushes more Lebanese into poverty. Protesters are targeting the ruling elite and banks that have frozen depositors out of their savings. Some banks have erected steel barriers to shield against attack, as the economy crumbles and fear of crime increases. Boustani believes things will get even worse, saying ‘That’s why we must remain alert, aware of danger as we go towards the unknown.’ This financial crisis has developed in Lebanon since 2019, more and more families can’t cope as the currency collapses and the state offers little or no help. Pray for God's peace to fill the streets as Lebanon faces enormous threats to stability.
The Centre for Global Policy (CGP) has called on European governments to intervene urgently on behalf of 750 children of EU member states citizenship who are held in IS detention camps in Syria. CGP’s latest report said that urgent intervention and support was needed. The report, entitled ‘The children of IS detainees - Europe's dilemma’, was based on research that focused on two camps in northeast Syria where 70,000 women and children are being detained. At least 12,000 of the detainees are foreign nationals. While public opinion in EU member states is strongly opposed to repatriating IS members and affiliates, the report emphasised, ‘Leaving them in these camps will not keep anyone safe’.
International China Concern (ICC) has sent volunteers from around the world to China since 1993, bringing extra care and enjoyment to abandoned children with disabilities. Each year there are short-term teams, for those who want to spend a week or two volunteering at one of their project sites. They support care-givers with additional activities, outings, and playtime for children and young adults. ICC also have long-term volunteers to set high standards of care by training and modelling their core values day to day in therapy, nursing, social work, education, administration, and communications. These volunteers commit to up to two years’ service. Pray for more people to commit to serving these needy children.
Leaders of a megachurch in Phoenix installed air-purifying machines that they claimed ‘kill 99.9% of Covid-19 within ten minutes’ before hosting Donald Trump’s campaign rally on 23 June. They then backtracked shortly before he spoke, causing confusion Senior pastor Barnett said the alleged virus-killing technology, developed by members of their church, ‘ionised the air’ by ‘taking particulates out’ to create a pandemic-free atmosphere. Potential Trump supporters were told, ‘When you come into our auditorium, 99% of Covid is gone, you'll be safe and protected. Thank God for great technology.’ A university professor said the ‘technology’ was not going to do anything to protect people in that space: ‘We’re in the midst of a serious pandemic and health situation; the last thing people need is false information about air cleaning technology.’ May God’s hand direct scientists and academics to end the pandemic with a successful vaccine.
The WHO has sent out a fresh warning over the dangers of the new coronavirus, even as France staged an annual music festival and sent millions of children back to school. New outbreaks highlight the difficulties of fully eradicating the virus, even in role-model countries. Brazil confirmed over 39,000 new cases, with over 50,000 deaths altogether. The mayor of Mexico City cancelled plans to reopen businesses this week as the alert level remained at red. India and Pakistan have surges in infections and deaths; their healthcare systems are under strain. Iran fears a second wave of infections, with deaths having risen to 100 daily. Israel has a surge in cases, while Australia is sending 1,000 army personnel to assist with a spike in infections in Victoria. South Africa and Egypt have the largest African outbreaks, but testing is sparse in the continent - distorting how far the virus may have spread.
Eight armed drones and three ballistic missiles hit Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on 24 June. On 22 June a Saudi-led coalition had announced both sides intended to meet in an attempt to re-establish a 2019 deal that ended earlier fighting. Tensions between the two former allies in Yemen's war has surged after the expiry last month of the six-week ceasefire prompted by the pandemic. The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of famine. The media reporting on the most recent attack stated, ‘The Houthis said they had hit the Saudi defence ministry and a military base, while a Saudi-led military coalition said it had shot a missile down, making no reference to targets’. The area is currently quiet.