Crisis spots around the globe

Iraqi refugee children pose outside the Syriac Catholic Church of Our Lady's Assumption in Amman, Jordan, in late October. A Catholic official warned that funding will soon run out for the refugees, who fled Islamic State militants. (CNS photo/Barb Fraze )

“We are nearly every day going to the church here. We are praying. Still we have the faith,” Dr. Imad Ibraheem Daood, a 47-year-old surgeon and father of four, told Catholic News Agency.

This faith is despite having had to flee their homes in a Christian town near Mosul in Iraq as Islamic State militants took over, slaughtering Christians and terrorizing the nation.

The used to live in big houses; now they live in a church hall in Amman, Jordan.

“Families of five or six sleep in areas not much larger than an office cubicle. Colorful sheets mounted on bland wooden partitions about four feet tall provide some privacy. A few festive decorations, hung along the walls, try to lighten the mood,” the report says.

“The refugees maintain an organized dignity. Their beds are simple, but neatly made. Purses and other items hang on hooks. But the 80 people who now live here share one only bath in common.”

CNA says that as of late October, Caritas Jordan helped about 2,000 Iraqi Christians fly to Jordan from Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan and is assisting them and another 2,000 people who came from Iraq by other means. The U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services has provided about $350,000 to prepare several Jordanian church facilities to receive the Iraqis and also supplied blankets, mattresses and modest furniture.

There is other assistance, too, CNA reports: Local Jordanians, both Christian and Muslim, have reached out to help the Iraqis.

In a separate report, Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul Emil Nona told CNA that the faith will not easily be broken. Mosul was overrun by ISIS last summer.

“For us the faith is everything. It is our life, our identity, our history and our way of life. We can't separate ourselves from our faith in any way,” Nona told CNA. “Our faith, which has been in this land for more than 2,000 years, cannot come to an end so easily.”

The report also says Aid to the Church in Need is providing shelter for more than 120,000 displaced Christians in northern Iraq, where temperatures in the winter drop to single digits.

“They have lost faith in their land, where they have lived for thousands of years. They have lost faith in Muslim society because they helped loot our homes. Now they live in waiting, not knowing what is going to happen. The only thing they haven't lost is their Christian faith. We are proud because none of the 120,000 people in this area has converted to Islam,” the archbishop told CNA.

Boko Haram’s worst yet

Though it didn’t get much press, Amnesty International says a recent massacre in Nigeria is the deadliest in the history of Islamic terror group Boko Haram, infamous for kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls last year, the Associated Press reports.

Officials said most victims are children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when insurgents drove into Baga, firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on town residents, according to the report.

“The human carnage perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga was enormous,” Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesman for poorly armed civilians in a defense group that fights Boko Haram, told the AP. He said the civilian fighters gave up on trying to count all the bodies because there were too many.

An Amnesty International statement said there are reports the town was razed and as many as 2,000 people killed, the AP reports.

Housing improves in Haiti

Finally, a bit of good news: Haitian seminarians who have spent the last five years in ad hoc housing – sometimes in tents – since an earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, now have a place to live.

“The tent dormitories now are empty after a new two-story, yellow-and-lime-green building 40-minutes outside of the Haitian capital became the provisional campus for the Notre Dame Grand Seminary,” Catholic News Service reports.

“Constructed with funds from parish collections in the Archdiocese of Miami after the earthquake, the building originally was conceived as a medical clinic or possible guesthouse for visiting U.S. volunteers,” the report says. “But the local church saw a more urgent need for seminarian housing, and the theology students moved in Nov. 7.”

Remember, links, tips and accounts of the response to any crisis anywhere in the world are always welcome at dstockman@ncronline.org.

[Dan Stockman is national correspondent for Global Sisters Report. Follow him on Twitter @DanStockman or on Facebook.]

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