Catching Our Eye
Religious groups face extinction around world
Campaigners warn that 100 years after the Armenian genocide there are still religious and ethnic groups facing extinction around the world.
Groups identified include Christians in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR), and the Christian Kachin in Burma. Each of these countries is listed on the 2015 World Watch List of places where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.
Amnesty International says there is ethnic cleansing of non-Arab and non-Sunni Muslims 'on a historic scale' in ISIS-held parts of Iraq and Syria.
Genocide Watch has put Nigeria on its 'emergency' list of countries at risk of genocide because of the threat to non-Muslims in territory held by Boko Haram.
UN and French officials have warned of the risk of genocide in CAR from the on-going conflict between Anti-Balaka so-called Christian self-defence militias and the mostly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition. The UN says violence on both sides is deemed genocidal in nature because victims are targeted for their religion with the aim of wiping out the opposition.
The Kachin Independence Army is fighting in a state of the same name with its majority Christian population pitted against the Burmese Buddhist government. Human Rights Watch estimates that more than 100,000 Kachin are displaced because of the fighting.
UNESCO's Director-General, Irina Bokova, said depriving people of their culture, their history and their heritage goes 'hand in hand with genocide'.
'Greater collaboration' will help ME Christians
Bishop Angaelos, leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, told an international conference this week that there is much to lose if the international community doesn't take ownership of the suffering of Christians in the Middle East.
Speaking at 'Christians in the Middle East: What Future?' in Bari, Italy, he said there must be 'greater collaboration between our Churches, governments and organisations... If we do not take ownership in responding to this situation and the needs of those suffering in the Middle East now, opportunists will take our place and use this tragedy and its victims for their own agenda.' He said problems might arise from an uncoordinated response and duplication and wastage of resources.
Bishop Angaelos also stressed the importance of classifying Christians in the Middle East as 'indigenous people with roots in these lands for millennia,' rather than just minorities: 'They are an intrinsic part of, and a stabilising force in, the region, and losing them would be a loss to the whole world.'
The conference brought together heads of the Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches of the Middle East, along with international political and governmental representatives, journalists and academics.
Garissa warnings 'ignored'
Kenya’s Interior Minister has accused security officers of ignoring warnings about a potential attack before the al-Shabab assault on Garissa University College, which left 148 students dead.
Joseph Nkaisserry told a parliamentary committee in Nairobi that the response to the attack was also poorly coordinated, reports the BBC.
After the 2 April attack, during which Christians were singled out and killed, the college’s Christian Union chairman pleaded for prayer for the physical and psychological healing of survivors.
“Please pray for us … Many saw sights too horrible to describe,” said 21-year-old Frederick Gitonga.
“Pray for me too. I am struggling with dreams that cause me to snap awake, then [I] cannot get back to sleep. I find myself remembering the horror of that day. The sounds and smells come back clearly.”