August 30, 2016

EGYPT: Orthodox Church, Govt Reach Agreement on Church Building Law

Church in egypt

CAIRO AUGUST 26, 2016(CISA) – The Coptic Orthodox Church has reached an agreement with the government on the articulation of the church building and renovation draft law.

The church stated that the phrasing of the draft law was agreed upon through discussion between the representatives of the church and state officials, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Sherief Ismail.

Spokespersons of the Evangelical Church and the Catholic Church told Egypt’ Aswat Masriya Newspaper that they had approved the Orthodox Church’s decision.

The bill has yet to be reviewed by the Council of Ministers and the parliament.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said on August 23 that the government is keen to fully cooperate with the Coptic Orthodox Church in releasing a draft law to organize the building of churches.

Meanwhile, the parliament is waiting to review the draft law after it passes through the State Council and the cabinet as per the provisions of the Egyptian constitution.

Egypt’s 2014 constitution states: “In its first legislative term following the effective date of this Constitution, the House of Representatives shall issue a law to regulate constructing and renovating churches, in a manner that guarantees the freedom to practice religious rituals for Christians.”

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church said last week that they were disappointed after its representatives attended a meeting with governmental officials to discuss the draft bill.

“The Church was surprised to find unacceptable alterations and impractical additions and it announced that they will pose a danger to Egyptian national unity because of the complications and obstacles that [the law] contains,” the Church wrote in an official statement.

Following the Orthodox Church’s announcement that an agreement with the government has been reached, young Christians began an initiative to collect signatures in opposition to the draft law.

A member of the campaign and rights activist, Ramy Kamel, said that the petition aims to raise awareness about the “dangers” of the draft law as it “outwardly defies the values of citizenship stated in the constitution.”


NIGERIA: 475,000 Children face Malnutrition, UN warns

drought in S africa

NORTHEASTERN NIGERIA AUGUST 26, 2016 (CISA) – Nearly half a million children around Lake Chad face “severe acute malnutrition” due to drought and a seven-year insurgency by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, UNICEF said yesterday.

According to the United Nations’ child agency, which is appealing for $308 million to cope with the crisis, of the 475,000 deemed at risk, 49,000 in Nigeria’s Borno state, Boko Haram’s heartland, will die this year if they do not receive treatment, Reuters reported.

However, to date, UNICEF said it had only received $41 million, 13 percent of what it needs to help those affected in the four countries – Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon – that border Lake Chad.

Boko Haram is thought to have killed as many as 15,000 people since the launch of its insurgency in 2009.

At the start of 2015, Boko Haram occupied a large part of Northern Nigeria but has since been pushed back over the last 18 months by military assaults by the four countries.

Most of its remaining forces are now hiding in the wilds of the vast Sambisa forest, southeast of the Borno provincial capital, Maiduguri.

UNICEF said that as Nigerian government forces captured and secured territory, aid officials were starting to piece together the scale of the humanitarian disaster left behind in the group’s wake.

“Towns and villages are in ruins and communities have no access to basic services,” UNICEF said in a report adding, in Borno State, nearly two thirds of hospitals and clinics had been partially or completely destroyed and three-quarters of water and sanitation facilities needed to be rehabilitated.

Despite the military gains, UNICEF said, 2.2 million people remain trapped in areas under the control of Boko Haram or are staying in camps, fearful of going home. Boko Haram has turned to suicide bombings, many involving children.

UNICEF said it had recorded 38 cases of child suicide bombings so far this year, against 44 in the whole of 2015 and just four the year before that.


SOUTH AFRICA: Bishops welcome Municipal Election Results


JOHANNESBURG AUGUST 26, 2016(CISA)-Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) has welcomed the results of municipal elections that took place on August 3, noting that all parties have accepted the results as fair. “Democracy itself was the victor,” the bishops proclaimed.

These elections should herald in a new phase in the history of our democracy involving coalition government, realistic opposition politics, and greater responsibility in the exercise of power,” reported Fides August 23.

The elections, which saw an erosion of support for the dominant African National Congress, were seen by the bishops as a call for government reform.

“In this election the people have spoken; they demand change;” the bishops said; “they expect service and they are tired of corruption, maladministration and being ignored.”

The bishops appealed to various political parties to avoid “a winner-take-all mentality.” “Our Country faces huge problems of social trauma; unemployment, inequality, racism, violence, drugs abuse and family breakdown.

Politicians are encouraged to take care of these wounds by recalling that the quality of life of the nation is measured by the care given to the poor, to children of all ages and all the marginalized,” the bishops said.


KENYA: Implement Peace deal or Face Sanctions, Kerry warns South Sudan


NAIROBI AUGUST 23, 2016 (CISA) – US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged South Sudan’s leaders to fully implement a previously signed peace deal or face a UN arms embargo and sanctions.

“It’s really up to the people, the leadership of South Sudan to lead and to do the things that they’ve promised to do,” Kerry said today in an interview with South Sudan’s “Eye Radio” broadcast, Reuters reported.

“If they don’t, then obviously it may be that the UN arms embargo and sanctions are going to be the tools of last resort. It’s not what people wanted to have to do, but our hope is that the government, the transition government will seize the bull by the horns here and get the job done,” he added.

His warning followed meetings in Nairobi on Monday August 23 with President Uhuru Kenyatta and foreign ministers from Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan to discuss escalating violence in South Sudan and the deployment of a UN protection force.

Kerry said his return to Kenya is due “to the need to improve business relations, boost counter-terrorism measures and stabilise the region from civil war.”

Fighting in South Sudan’s capital Juba last month prompted the United Nations to authorize the deployment of 4,000 extra UN troops to bolster a UN mission there, warning South Sudan it would face an arms embargo if it did not cooperate.

South Sudan’s government initially said it would not cooperate with the new UN troops which will be under the command of the 12,000-strong UNMISS mission. But since then it has said it was still considering its position.

According to Kerry, the force was not an intervention force that would challenge the sovereignty of the country and that its main task would be to protect property and civilians in Juba.

South Sudan secured its independence in 2011, but by December 2013 the longtime political rivalry between President Salva Kiir, and former Vice President Riek Machar, led to civil conflict which has killed thousands of people and driven more than 2 million people from their homes according to the UN.