Kinshasa – Almost 900 people were massacred in four villages in community violence in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo , between 16 and 18 December. This was reported by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The massacre took place near Yumbi, in the province of Mai-Ndombe, about 300 km north of the capital Kinshasa and it apparently it is not related to the tensions regarding the elections held on December 30th but to rivalry between the Banunu and Batendé communities.
In addition to the victims there are serious material damages: 465 private houses and public buildings were set on fire or looted. These include two schools, a health center, a clinic, a market and an office of the Independent National Electoral Commission . Over 16,000 people have taken refuge in the neighboring Republic of Congo .
Following the massacre, the authorities in Kinshasa decided to postpone the vote in the area scheduled for December 30th.
Threatens to tear Lebanon apart to send refugees home to death – what God want that?
Bkerké – Lebanon “can no longer carry the weight of Syrian refugees”, and therefore it is necessary to “dissociate the political solution of the conflict in Syria from the necessary return of the displaced to their homes “. This urgent matter was underlined once again by the Maronite Bishops on the occasion of their latest monthly assembly, hosted on 6 December by the Patriarchal See of Bkerké. The Maronite Bishops insist that the repatriation of Syrian refugees must be started without waiting for a complete political solution to the conflict which has tormented Syria since 2011.
On 30 November the Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil had a meeting in the Vatican with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for relations with states of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, for clarification and reassurance regarding the position of the Holy See on the question of the repatriation of Syrian refugees who have found shelter in Lebanon. During the meeting the Lebanese minster explained to Archbishop Gallagher the serious reasons for which Lebanon cannot continue to bear for much longer the economic and security weight of the emergency connected also with the presence on Lebanese territory of more than one million Syrian refugees.
“Lebanon asks simply that no obstacle will prevent the safe return of those refugees wishing to return” said Gebran Bassil in a statement issued following the meeting with Archbishop Gallagher.
Before the meeting between the Lebanese minister and the high ranking Vatican official, certain considerations attributed to Archbishop Gallagher had drawn comments from the Lebanese media according to which the present situation in Syria could render impracticable the albeit desired repatriation of Syrian refugees .
Manila – “Extrajudicial homicide is always wrong even when it means killing a criminal. This is our desperate plea at this time of Advent and Christmas: for the love of God, stop these murders! Let healing begin|” this appeal to Fides comes from Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, head of the diocese of Kalookan and Vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines .
The bishop says that to tackle seriously the problems of drug trafficking and drug dependence the right path is not “eliminating drug addicts”, the way chosen by the anti-drug campaign launched by the President Rodrigo Duterte. It is necessary instead to consolidate rehabilitation progammes for those dependent on harmful substances. Bishop David told Fides that “people addicted to drugs need adequate rehabilitation to overcome this dependence, it is not possible to think that the way is to eliminate these people”.
This is why the Catholic Church in the Philippines offers support: the diocese of Kalookan, like 86 other dioceses in the country, runs rehabilitation programmes for persons addicted to drugs and support for the families in particular guaranteeing education programmes and scholarships.
The President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte launched a “war on drugs” following his election in 2016. According to official data, the police has killed some 5,000 suspects in raids aimed at capturing drug pushers, but human rights organizations say the number of those killed, including extrajudicial killing by squadrons of “vigilantes” , amount to four times as much. NGO say the “war on drugs” has killed some 20 thousand innocent victims, executed summarily in what is called “systematic extermination” of drug addicts in the poorest communities. The police rejects the accusations and says the killings regard drug pushers resisting arrest.
Once Bishop David described his diocese Kalookan an “extermination camp “, vigorously denouncing extrajudicial homicides. “The war on illegal drugs must be implacable but these killings must be stopped ” the Bishop said in a public plea.
Amidst an apparent “normalisation of violence”, the Bishop never tires of preaching the principle of non-violence: “We will never allow our actions be motivated by anger, hatred, revenge. We will not let evil have the last word. We will not allow the enemy to shape us in his image and likeness “, he repeats. “We cannot passively allow this senseless killing just because some of us think it is good for society “, he states. For these public stances the Bishop has incurred in the hostility of President Duterte.
The Bishop says “drug dependence is a serious sickness which must be treated with rehabilitation not bullets”. Even people who make mistakes deserve a second chance : “This is one of the most important principles of our Christian faith: we all live only thanks to the mercy of a God who forgives. Who are we to condemn if our God forgives? Which of us does not commit errors?” the Bishop asks
Bishop David addresses also the recent killing of Filipino priests, which shook the Church: “Those priests show us just how precious the priesthood is. They are martyrs who gave their lives to care for the flock entrusted to them “.
Austin – “It is not a crime to seek asylum: we urge the Administration to look for other solutions that reinforce the integrity of the immigration system existing in the United States”. This is what Mgr. Joe Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, President of the Commission for Migrations in the United States Episcopal Conference, Sr. Donna Markham, OP, President of the “Catholic Charities USA” , Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of the “Catholic Legal Immigration Network” and Sean Callahan, President of “Catholic Relief Services” say in a joint statement sent to Agenzia Fides.
On November 9, President Trump issued a provision prohibiting people arriving at the southern border with Mexico from receiving asylum in the United States. This represents a direct contradiction with the existing asylum law, underlines the text sent to Fides.
In the statement shared by Catholic bodies we read: “While we recognize the right of every nation to regulate its borders, we find this action deeply disturbing. It will limit and delay access regarding the protection for hundreds of children and families fleeing the violence in Central America, which could leave them in conditions of insecurity in Mexico or in situations of indefinite detention on the border between the United States and Mexico. We reiterate that it is not a crime to seek asylum and that this right to seek refuge is codified in our laws and values. We urge the Administration to look for other solutions that reinforce the integrity of the existing immigration system, while ensuring access to the protection for vulnerable children and families. The Catholic Church will continue to serve, accompany and assist all those fleeing persecution, regardless of where they seek that protection and where they come from”.
In the meantime 400 Hondurans arrived at the border and others will arrive, perhaps more than 3 thousand. The tension is registered on both sides of the border because the group of migrants wants to enter US territory with legal permission. The applicants must therefore wait to be received by the migration office, present at the same border, with undeclared times and, in the meantime, the place where to stop for the wait cannot manage the flow of the people that have arrived. “Tijuana is not ready to receive a caravan of that size”, said the mayor of the border town to the press, saying that the city is now saturated and today, Friday 16 November, another 2 thousand migrants are expected to arrive, with social difficulties and need for assistance.