Archive

August 18th, 2014

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: My hero


The first time I met my hero she was one of a dozen dusty, carefree children congregated like a school of fish on the edge of town as they dreamed up their next adventure.  Buenos Aires looked like of the best places on earth to be a kid: a small, quiet riverside town with a whole jungle out back to explore, where they were free to be queens and kings of their own destiny. 

It was a warning to me that singled her out from this mob of Indiana Joneses: “That one over there—the angelic, sweet, little girl with the springy curls and big smile?  She’s a handful.  Give her a foot and she’ll take a mile.” 

Jimena sure is a handful—a handful of spunk, spirit, and joy.  She’s nine years old and she wants to be a doctor when she grows up to help people with heart problems.  Her toothy grin and the way she snuggles up under my arm and into my heart leaves me no doubt that she’ll save many lives.   

August 16th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli Military displaces family, stones observers, shuts down Old City for midnight settler tour

In the first week of August, the Israeli military added to the normal hardships people who live in and around the area of Hebron’s Old City must endure.

On 1 August 2014, the Israeli military occupied the rooftop of the al-Rajabi house in Jebal Johar near the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba at approximately 6 p.m.  According witnesses, the Israeli soldiers left the rooftop at around 7:00 p.m. and fired five tear gas grenades into the home, setting the interior into flames.  The result was a total loss of the family’s personal items. 

 Seven Palestinians live in the home. Five children, four boys and girl are now homeless. 

August 15th

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: Syrian refugees donate their relief supplies to newly displaced; have received reduction in rations

 

Relief supplies donated by Basirma 
camp residents

Please circulate widely on Facebook,  E-mail, Twitter, and other social networks.  

Syrian refugees in the Basirma Camp near Erbil (Hawler in Kurdish), in the Kurdish Regional Governate (KRG),have donated some of their relief supplies to the newly displaced refugees fleeing Islamic State militants.  They took up this collection from their own rations and paid from their own money to have it transported to people camping in parks and churches. 

CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team went out to the Arbat Camp yesterday near Suleimani and heard from Syrian refugees there that they no longer receive flour, just oil, rice, sugar, tea, and some spices.  They must now buy the rest of their food. 

Residents of the camp get a monthly subsistence-level monetary and food allotment, which, those who can, supplement by doing day labor or using money they brought with them when they fled.  The camp currently houses about 500 families, all from Syria, but the authorities are expanding the camp to include 150 more families from the old camp.  The old camp will then receive the influx of people from northern Iraq displaced recently by violence.

August 14th

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: United Nations declares highest level of emergency regarding crisis in Iraqi-Kurdistan

 Please circulate widely on Facebook,  E-mail, Twitter, and other social networks. 


The United Nations has declared its highest level of emergency regarding the humanitarian crisis in Iraqi-Kurdistan.  

The city of Dohuk, north of Mosul, after the arrival of over 150,000 refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) has surpassed its ability to feed and shelter all the people who are in grave need.  We hope the U.N.’s declaration will increase the money and resources available to provide for the needs of such people as the Yazdis and other displaced people.  

The photos below were taken today by the team at the Arbat Refugee Camp.  One displays the agencies that are working within the camp.  The other, if you look closely at the receding utility poles, shows the scale of the camp. 


Prayers for Peacemakers, August 14, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 14, 2014

Give thanks for the people of Asubpeeschoseewagong/Grassy Narrows First Nation, who continue to stay on their land, host delegations, put on events like River Run, and pass on their traditions to their children in spite of legal, social, educational, corporate systems that are stacked against them.

Epixel* for Sunday, August 17, 2014
 Thus says the LORD: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will 
come, and my deliverance be revealed. 
 Isaiah 56.1 

*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.


August 13th

IRAQI KURDISTAN ACTION: Support WADI’S relief efforts among the displaced refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan

CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team has partnered with WADI on several occasions in its work to end violence against women, including honor killings and female genital mutilation.  More information about its programs is available here.  WADI, because of the overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe currently unfolding in Iraqi-Kurdistan is currently focusing on helping refugees, and we encourage our constituents to support its efforts.  Below is its appeal:


Please donate to the refugees in Kurdish Northern Iraq!

This time it is mainly Yazidis and Christians.  Hundreds of thousands of them are currently seeking refuge in the Iraqi Kurdish Region.  They narrowly escaped the butchers from the Islamic State, and the horror they must have gone through can still be read in their faces.

After all the Syrian refugees (approximately 225,000) and then the wave of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), this new wave of refugees is an immense challenge for the region which has a population of about five million and is now accommodating over a million refugees.

Local people are willing to help and share, but the supply situation is very tense.  With temperatures rising to almost 50 degrees Celsius/ 122 degrees Fahrenheit, there is a lack of the most basic supplies, especially food, medicine, clothes, tents, and lodging.  The municipal infrastructure is overloaded, and the regional government and UN Refugee Agency are simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of refugees.

WADI, in cooperation with several local partners and activists, is providing relief on the ground.  Each donation will directly benefit the people in distress.


 

August 12th

COLOMBIA: Las Pavas files a public complaint against aggressions of palm oil company and government inaction

On 4 August 2014, the community of Las Pavas filed a public complaint against the constant aggressions committed by the palm company Aportes San Isidro and the lack of government response regarding the actions of this company.  The community, to whom the government allocated the Las Pavas farm 2012 and whom the government recognized in 2013 as displaced by paramilitaries in 2003, continue to be affected by the palm company’s disregard for the legal system.  Aportes San Isidro has committed various attacks against the community, which generate terror, despair, and social breakdown in the community.  The community of Las Pavas also denounces the lack of guarantees from the State, to whom they have reported many times their vulnerable situation and the violence enacted against their members.

Read (in Spanish) Las Pavas’ denunciation of Aportes San Isidro’s violent harassment and the government’s inaction here.

August 11th

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: "The last thing Mirdo Ali told me before his phone battery died"--Conversations with Yazidis in the Shangal/Sinjar Mountains

[Note: Please share widely with friends on e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.  Organizations accepting donations for the humanitarian crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan include Mennonite Central CommitteeSave the Children, and Unicef.]

A friend of the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team, Rezhiar Fakhir, had a chance to speak on the phone directly with several people who escaped from the city of Shangal to the mountain area out of IS's control.  We believe his conversation with the on the mountain is very important and would like to share a transcript of the phone interview with our friend's comments which he  originally published on his blog. 

Risho Khwdeda and his son Alias Risho told me some really tragic stories about what ISIS is doing to the Ezidian people. 

 “At first, they bombed our temples, “said Alias.  They exploded two temples called Mahawia and Saida Zainab.  ISIS also tried to reach Sharfadin temple in order to destroy that too.

Alaias said, “People have left Shangal.  They are heading towards the Shangal Mountains.  They cannot come back because ISIS controls the area in and around the mountain.  Children are dying and they cannot take them to the cemetery.  They have to bury their children under stones.”

I was later able to talk to another member of the Ezidean community that has fled Shangal.  Bdal Mirdo Ali has also taken refuge in the mountains.

I called Badal Mirdo Ali and I asked him to tell me about their situation in the mountains.  Mirdo Ali said:  “The situation is really bad.  Lots of children have died.  We are in the desert; it is hot and we don’t have any place here to stay in or to seek shelter away from the sun.”

Badal Mirdo said, “There are nearly 20, 000 refugees in the Shangal Mountains.  Some have tried to go down the mountain to bring back food and clothing but ISIS arrested them.  They killed the men and took their women.  They have also tried to capture the young men.”

“I was there when ISIS arrested some people.  They killed the husbands and took the wives along with the young guys.  Three of my brothers and their wives were arrested by ISIS.  I do not have any news about them.  We do not have enough food and water and the situation is rapidly deteriorating.  If we stay here we will all die.”

“We can’t go down because ISIS controls all the areas around the mountain.  We are very scared of ISIS.  If someone does not come to help us, we will die here.  Already lots of children and women have died here and we hope more people do not die.  If we stay here under these conditions any longer, it won’t be good for us.  ISIS is near us.  We can feel and hear them.  We can see them.”

The last thing Mirdo Ali told me before his phone battery died: “I hope people hear my voice.  Thank you.”

  
  

August 9th

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Demanding a response to mercury poisoning

135During River Run week, 28-31 July 2014, members of the Grassy Narrows First Nation obtained and responded to a 2010 scientific report commissioned by the Mercury Disability Board, which includes representatives from both the provincial and federal governments.  While not yet released to the public nor even initially shared with the community, the report confirms that community members have suffered from mercury-related neurological disorders and notes “[t]he rate of residents reporting  neurological symptoms was very high for such a small population.”

The mercury crisis affecting Grassy Narrows began in 1962, after a nearby paper mill poisoned the Wabigoon-English river system, contaminating local fish and communities.  The Dryden Chemicals pulp and paper mill leaked an estimated 9000 kilograms of mercury into the river system between 1962 and 1970.  By 1970, Grassy Narrows had to stop commercial and sport fishing due to high levels of mercury contamination.  At the time, the Ontario government maintained the fish were safe for consumption.

Neither the Ontario government nor Canada has apologized for a single case of mercury poisoning and has refused to acknowledge mercury poisoning occurred.  Health Canada stopped testing community members for mercury poisoning in the 1990’s citing minimal risk.  The report, however, demonstrates Grassy Narrows mercury survivors are not receiving necessary medical care and that the problem is ongoing due to long term impacts of past exposure and the potential for impact on fetuses and children, even at government-established “low” mercury levels

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: Churches in Iraqi Kurdistan filled to overflowing with refugees

CPTnet
9 August 2014
IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: Churches in Iraqi Kurdistan filled to overflowing with refugees

 
 Monastery in Suleimani

CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team spent all day yesterday at a monastery in Suleimani that has taken in sixty-five Christians from Qaraqosh who fled Islamic State militants with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  CPTers heard today that the monastery is expecting sixty more refugees to arrive tomorrow.  Below is a link to a CNN story about Christians filling St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the largest church in Suleimani. 

ACTION: Those of you with Facebook accounts, please post this on your pages, but don’t stop there.  PLEASE ASK 10-20 OF YOUR FRIENDS TO POST this news item on their pages and to ask 10-20 of their friends to post this story, in order to alert people to the humanitarian disaster looming in Iraqi Kurdistan.  Please share via e-mail, Twitter, or other social media accounts as well.

CNN Video: Iraqi Christians at St. Joseph's Church in Suleimani