Christians in northern Nigeria, in addition to suffering attacks by the terrorist Boko Haram group, are also facing a terrible situation as a result of the bloody attacks by Fulani herders against Christian villages in Nigeria’s so-called Middle Belt. 

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“This is a time bomb that threatens to ignite the whole region”, says Bishop William Amove Avenya of the diocese of Gboko. He was speaking to representatives of the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International). He described how in his diocese, located in Nigeria’s majority Christian Benue State, “Fulani tribesman, armed to the teeth, are murdering pregnant women and children and destroying our smallholdings”. Ever since 2010 the Christian villages have been the target of violent attacks by the nomadic, Muslim Fulani herdsman from the Sahel region, who have been armed with a wealth of modern weaponry. The result has been thousands killed and numerous communities forced to flee. “The Fulani have claimed far more victims during 2018 than Boko Haram, but no one is doing anything about it”, the bishop explained.

Image: Bishop William Amove Avenya of the diocese of Gboko pleading with the authorities to do something to stop the violence against the (mostly Christian) farmers. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need. 

How ACN is helping the local Church in Homs to distribute aid for fuel and heating

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Remond Ziade was 72 years old during the first year of the war in Homs, one of the cities most heavily involved in the fighting since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011. Widespread street protests were met with harsh repression and Homs became the seedbed of some of the first groups of rebel fighters, earning it the nickname the “capital of the revolution”. The main areas of fighting were in the City of Old Homs and the Al-Hamidiya district, an area with a significant Christian presence. By around 2012 life had become unbearable and almost all the inhabitants fled the area, leaving only a few elderly people behind.

As one of the leading exporters of crude oil, Venezuela was once the most affluent country in South America. Today, the country has reached up to one million per cent inflation and large parts of the population are becoming ever more destitute. During a visit to the German national office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Manuel Felipe Díaz Sánchez (63) talked about how the church is working to support the people in need and to contribute to the unity of the country. Archbishop Sánchez has headed the Archdiocese of Calabozo since 2008; the diocese is located about 300 kilometres south of the capital city of Caracas. The interview was held by Tobias Lehner.

ACN 20181001 77357 Easy ResizeArchbishop Manuel Felipe Díaz Sánchez Archbishop of Calabozo (Venezuela):
“We could not survive without the solidarity of Christians worldwide.”

ACN: Venezuela was once one of the most affluent countries in South America. Today, Venezuela has reached up to one million per cent inflation and large parts of the population are becoming ever more destitute. How are the people affected by the crisis in concrete terms?

Archbishop Manuel Felipe Díaz Sánchez: Here is an example that can be seen on a daily basis: somebody goes into a store and asks how much a specific item of food costs. He leaves to go get the money and comes back one hour later – only to learn that the price has in the meantime gone up. There is a shortage of everything. A lot of people are only living from rice and beans. The situation in the hospitals is especially critical. Medicines are in short supply. In some cases, the patients have to procure them themselves and sell their last valuables in order to do so. Many people see emigration as the only solution.

Pope lights Candle for Peace in Syria

“My beloved Syria is being tormented by a war already lasted for eight years” stated Pope Francis and appealed for peace, “at this time, I would like to make mine the hope of the children in Syria.” With these words, immediately following the noon Angelus prayer at St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Pope Francis lit a large candle for peace and reconciliation in Syria - a country torn apart by a war that has now lasted longer than World War II.

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With this act the Holy Father marked the start of the Candles for Peace in Syria initiative, an Advent campaign of the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) aimed at raising awareness and support for the suffering Christians in this country. “May the flame of hope also reach all those who are suffering in these days from conflicts and tensions in various other parts of the world, near and far”, stated the Pope. “Let us pray and help Christians to remain in Syria and the Middle East as witnesses of mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation”

On Thursday, 15th November, at 2AM a Kenyan Jesuit, Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo, 62, was killed during the attack against the Jesuit community in Cueibet, South Sudan. Three other members of the community, who were already asleep during the incident, are reported safe. A letter with condolences was addressed to the Eastern Africa Provincial, Fr. Joseph Oduor Afulo, by the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa.

Fr. Victor-Luke, SJ was born on 20th January 1956, entered the Society on 4th July 1978, and was ordained a priest on 22nd August 1987. He took his final vows on 30th May 1993. At the time of the attack he held positions of the Principal of Mazzolari Teachers’ College (MTC) and the acting Superior of the Community (since 30th January 2017). He had worked in South Sudan for approximately 10 years before this incident. Prior that he served in the Starehe Boys Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, and in Loyola High School in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

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