By Maria Lozano

“Hope is coming back to the Nineveh Plains” reports the Middle East section head of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) after returning from a fact-finding mission from the Iraqi Christian villages liberated last November from ISIS. Fr Andrzej Halemba, stated that, “despite the many urgent questions that need clarification, people are willing to return to their villages”. When asked about the nature of these urgent questions Fr. Halemba referred to the concerns of illegal property appropriations of the abandoned homes, an investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the destruction of Christian houses and for those Christian families who contemplate going home, the ongoing security fears of violence from isolated militant and fundamentalists who do not wish to see the Christians return.

By Murcadha O Flaherty

A Church source in Egypt has told a Catholic charity that extremist Islamists are carrying out daily atrocities against Christians – including kidnapping and murder.   

By Maria Lozano

South Sudan, located in the heart of Africa, is the youngest nation in the world; it gained independence from Sudan in July 2011. Two years later, a civil war broke out, pitting the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) against the opposition; the conflict has since become a brutal tribal war. The “Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan,” signed by both factions in August 2015, brought but temporary peace, with fighting flaring up again since last summer. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens of South Sudan suffer hunger and are caught in the fighting. The UN estimates that there are 1.7 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the country, 75 percent of whom are struggling to survive in the three states hardest-hit by conflict, Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei.  

By Murcadha O Flaherty and Mónica Zorita

Father Luis Montes, Latin Episcopal Vicar for Kurdistan, told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need: “Approximately 60 percent of the homes on the Nineveh Plains were burned down. The terrorists not only seized all of their belongings. They riddled the region with land mines.”  

By Jaco Klamer

“I don’t understand how people can harm each other so much,” sighs security guard Louis Petrus. Today, Louis has returned to his hometown for the first time: the Christian city of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, which he had to flee on 6 August 2014, when IS occupied the city. “Look at my house: it is damaged, most of my furniture has been stolen and my household effects are broken. Other inhabitants of Qaraqosh had prepared me for what I would find in the city. I had heard stories and seen pictures of the destruction caused by the jihadists. Now that I am seeing the city with my own eyes, I do not know what to feel. The IS terrorists have destroyed a lot of my possessions, but I am still quite well off, considering the damage that I can see in my neighbours’ houses: many houses have been burned or even completely destroyed. I have been blessed.” 

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