Latest News from Fides News Agency

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - "The army must act in an ethical manner", says Mgr. Herrera on the conflict in Ayapal

Ayapal - "The army of Nicaragua should proceed following the ethical principles in the existing conflict in the Ayapal community" said His Exc. Mgr. Carlos Enrique Herrera Guttierez OFM, Bishop of the diocese of Jinotega.In a brief interview with the local press, which was sent to Fides, Mgr. Herrera talked again of the serious situation of violence and tension in which Ayapal lives , reiterating that the army must not hit civilians indiscriminately and violently only if they are suspected, but "must look for the right manner, and this is not the way. The military know what to do. One can seek the path of dialogue".The fear in the area has intensified after the brutal killing of the mayor of Ayapal and peace officer, Andres Cerrato, who long ago was a member of the Nicaraguan resistance . The note sent to Fides, informs that Juan Carlos Arce, in charge of the National Commission of Human Rights in Matagalpa, noted the seriousness of the fact that there is still no official report on the violent death of Cerrato, which took place on April 18. "The thing is serious because he was a person who represented state institutions, the government must give us an answer. We cannot allow young people and families live in fear" said Arce.

ASIA/IRAQ - The "Clock Church" destroyed in central Mosul

Mosul - On Sunday April 24 the Latin church in the center of Mosul, historically officiated by the Dominican Fathers and known as the "Church of the Miraculous Virgin" or dubbed as the "Clock Church", was devastated by the use of explosives. Official sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate attribute the sacrilegious act of vandalism to the militants of the self-styled Islamic State that have been controlling the city since 9 June 2014. According to local sources, the jihadists of Daesh evacuated the area around the church and took away whatever could be looted from the sacred building before detonating the explosives.The statement released by the Chaldean Patriarchate expresses sorrow for yet another act of destruction committed against a place of worship, and also urges Iraqi politicians to act quickly to encourage authentic national reconciliation.The Latin Church connoted unmistakably the historic center of Mosul, mainly due to its distinctive bell tower with the clock, donated to Iraqi Christians by Empress Eugenie, Napoleon III’s wife. It is possible that the church was devastated simply because considered historically linked to France."The chimes of that clock" says Sister Luigina Sako, superior of the Roman house of the Chaldean Sisters of the Daughters of Mary to Agenzia Fides, "accompanied our youth, when Mosul was a city where you lived in peace. I remember as a student, when we had an important exam, we all went, Christians and Muslims, to bring our requests for help to the Lourdes grotto situated within that church, that even our Muslim friends knew and honored as 'the miraculous Virgin church' ".

AFRICA - Malaria can be cured: prevention and access to treatment

Padova - Malaria in Africa today remains one of the most common diseases among adults and a major cause of death for children. Doctors with Africa Cuamm are present in 16 hospitals: Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Uganda where 30% of admissions are due to severe forms of malaria, with peaks of 50% in hospitals in Yirol and Cueibet in South Sudan and Aber, in Uganda. Malaria can be cured say Cuamm experts in the statement sent to Agenzia Fides at the recent World Malaria Day. The problem is very often to ensure access to treatment for sick people who live far from hospitals, in rural and remote areas who are often the most affected. What is even more important is to work on prevention, through the distribution and awareness on the use of simple tools: mosquito nets, repellents, pest control campaigns against mosquito dwelling. In 2015, 89,000 outpatient treatments were carried out and 20,000 hospital admissions for malaria were registered in 7 countries where Cuamm is present.

AMERICA/CHILE - Evangelical church set on fire, still in the name of the Mapuche cause

Temuco - Another church in the Chilean region of La Araucania was set on fire: last night the fire destroyed an evangelical church, in the municipality of Padres Las Casas. Although firefighters arrived on site to control the flames, very little remains of the church.According to information sent to Fides, along with firefighters also members of the police arrived to investigate the origin of the fire, as writings in favor of the Mapuche cause were found. In the late hours of last night, the first police report confirmed the arson.In the same place, on 31 March 2016, another Catholic chapel had been burned, St. Joaquina chapel .A dozen churches and chapels were set on fire during the early months of 2016, and always messages concerning the Mapuche cause were found on site . The root problem remains the Mapuche cause, unsolved for more than a century, although the burning of churches is incomprehensible .

ASIA/SYRIA - A predominantly Christian city bombed by Islamist rebels. Armed truce in Qamishli between the Kurdish militias and pro-Assad army

Hama - Islamist militias linked to Al Qaeda Jabhat al Nusra Front group launched an attack with mortars on the Syrian city of Sqelbiya, a predominantly Christian city, in the central province of Hama on Sunday, April 24, killing at least four civilians. This is what Kurdish sources consulted by Agenzia Fides report. The attack took place with the launching of mortar shells on residential neighborhoods. The city, under government control of the army, already in the past had suffered attacks by the jihadist militants, that had tried to take it over several times, without ever succeeding.Meanwhile, in the northeastern Syrian province of Hassaké the truce between the government and Kurdish militiamen of the Popular Army Security Unit continues, reached last Saturday after the bloody clashes erupted on Wednesday, April 20 especially in the city of Qamishli . Representatives of the Kurdish militias, interviewed by ARA News agency, reaffirmed their intention to maintain control of the conquered areas during the fighting, and the refusal to make any concession to the government in Assad. The same Kurdish leaders have accused the regime of forcing local civilian populations to create paramilitary groups of "self-defense" subjected to the army government. The opening of a new front of conflict between Kurdish militias and the army of Assad in northeastern Syria confirms that behind the Syrian tragedy there are complex strategies and interests. According to local sources, the three days of clashes between the Kurdish militia and the army government, 17 civilians, 10 Kurdish militants and 31 between government and pro regime paramilitary soldiers were killed.

ASIA/INDIA - The Mass explained to young people, for the 400th anniversary of the Church of St. Andrew

Mumbai - The Jubilee of the 400th anniversary of the founding of St. Andrew's Church in Bandra, in Mumbai, was the occasion for a special celebration dedicated to the young: it was a Holy Mass animated with theatrical dramatizations and music, as explained by Fr. Caesar D'Mello, the pastor of St. Andrew’s church. Furthermore, "the different moments of the Mass were explained in their deeper meaning, involving those present"."It was our intention, in programming the Jubilee of the local Church - says the priest - to organize a special Mass for young people in Mumbai. Hence the idea to celebrate it with a choir from different parishes, and then followed by an entertainment program, in which artists from all over the city performed. The general feeling is that our young people deserve more pastoral attention: we must do more for them, because, after all, the future belongs to the young".The joyous celebration, which was also attended by many adults, was also marked by the original "prayer against slavery".In his homily Jesuit Fr. Errol Fernandes explained that "the Mass is not a ritual, but an event that makes God present among us" and that therefore "Christ remains and continues to be there after the final blessing".St. Andrew's Church in Bandra is one of the oldest churches in Mumbai. It celebrated the 400th anniversary of the parish elevation, dated 1616. The church was built twenty years earlier, in 1595, by the Portuguese Jesuits, in the maritime area.

AMERICA/ECUADOR - Earthquakes cause extreme difficulties for those affected by disability

Quito – The death toll of the earthquake that just over a week ago struck Ecuador rises: more than 710 people have died or are missing, including some 16,600 injured and some are still in serious condition. This was reported by the National Secretariat for Risk Management. The Ecuadorian government declared a state of emergency in six provinces: Esmeraldas, Manabí, Santa Elena, Guayas, Santo Domingo and Los Ríos. The area of Pedernales has been declared a disaster zone. Search and rescue efforts started immediately. There is no water, food and basic necessities. During emergencies the mortality rate of people with disabilities is twice compared to the general population. The reasons lie in the difficulty or impossibility of allowing them to move due to the increased difficulty of access to basic humanitarian aid. Among the initiatives in favor of the most vulnerable affected by this disaster, CBM Italy is giving its support in collaboration with its local partners. CBM operators are working to ensure that people with disabilities and their families, but also the elderly and other vulnerable groups, receive water, food, medicine and shelter". In particular in the province of Esmeraldas our partner OVCI Nostra Famiglia, which works closely with the Government, is responsible for producing and importing devices and mobility aids, such as wheelchairs and crutches. In these hours, the operators are working to distribute water, food and basic necessity kits", said the statement sent to Agenzia Fides by CBM.

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christian girl kidnapped and victim of forced marriage and conversion to Islam: the phenomenon does not stop

Kasur - Help his daughter, victim of abduction, forced marriage and conversion to Islam: is the appeal launched by Sarwar Masih, a Pakistani Christian who asked the help of lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, head of the NGO "Lead" , committed to providing free assistance to Christian victims of abuse. The girl, Laveeza Bibi, aged 23, was kidnapped on April 14 by two Muslims who stormed in Sarwar Masih’s family house, in the district of Kasur, in Punjab, armed with guns, taking the girl and threatening her parents. One of the kidnappers Muhammad Talib forced the girl to marry him.Masih immediately went to the local police station, but the police were reluctant to registering a First Information Report. Even Pastor Saleem Masih, along with Gill are helping the family. Only after the intervention of the two, the police registered the complaint against Talib. "In April in the area of Kasur alone, five Christian girls were kidnapped and converted to Islam and forced to marry their captors. These girls are denied the legal protection of individual rights", explains Gill to Fides. And the phenomenon continues to have unacceptable proportions, with about a thousand cases registered every year and many go unreported. The NGO "Lead" will continue to act and to raise awareness regarding the discrimination and violence suffered by women in Pakistan in particular of Christian religious minorities and Hindus, the most vulnerable and defenseless, subject to abuses which often go unpunished.

ASIA/TURKEY - The Ecumenical Patriarch wants to meet Erdogan to talk about the Theological Institute of Halki

Istanbul - The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, wants to meet President Tayyip Erdogan to talk about the status of the Patriarchate, and above all would like clarification on the recent episodes that seem to contradict and negate the effectiveness of previous legislations regarding the restitution of goods to minority religious communities, which had been unlawfully expropriated in the past by Turkish authorities. During a recent press conference, convened at the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate overlooking the Golden Horn, Patriarch Bartholomew noted that relations between the Turkish authorities and religious minorities are again experiencing a critical moment, and the issue of the patriarchal theological Institute of Halki has been raised again. The Turkish parliament enacted a law banning private higher education institutions in 1971. According to local sources consulted by Agenzia Fides, Patriarch Bartholomew has announced that a letter will be sent to Erdogan to ask for an appointment, possibly to be held by May, to talk directly with the Turkish President on the issue of the Halki School and more generally on the problems of religious minorities in Turkey.Recently - stressed Laki Vingas at the press conference, already member of the Minorities foundation Council - "trials were started for the cancellation of property titles, and this situation worries us". What is worrying is primarily the operation implemented by the Turkish State institutions that have recently opened a case against the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, to cancel the legal acts with which land was returned at the disposal of the Orthodox patriarchal See, in compliance with the laws providing the restitution of goods to religious minority communities which in the past had been seized by the Turkish authorities . The case started by institutions in Ankara is in particular to re-expropriate the ecumenical Patriarchate of a plot of 98 acres in Goksu, and another area in Umit Tepesi, which in the last four years had been assigned to the Institute of Orthodox theology in Halki. The Forestry State Administration filed a case to ask that those real estate are to be returned to the Treasury. The procedural initiative is set up as yet another case of harassment through legal and administrative channels implemented by the Turkish institutions against the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

EUROPE/ITALY - Teenage pregnancy and its consequences on the lives of young women in Africa

Padova - For the first time ever, Italy celebrated “Women’s Health Day” this year in order to focus the nation’s attention on the issue of women’s health care and prevention and to underscore the fundamental role that women play both in their own families and the broader community, not only in Italy but worldwide. Doctors with Africa Cuamm have been supporting very young women every day – those who become pregnant and have children before the age of 18 – and helping them to cope with the difficult physical, social and psychological consequences of their situation. According to the data, the statement sent to Fides by Cuamm reports that pregnancies, in fact, are on the rise: more than 16 million young women aged 15 to 19 give birth every year, and another 16 million get pregnant for the first time under the age of 15. In Sub-Saharan African countries early pregnancy is frequently the consequence of forced and early marriages by very young girls; indeed, almost 120 million African girls are coerced into marrying before they reach 18. In addition, emergency and crisis situations, such as that which occurred during the recent Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leon, can also impact girls very negatively. A study recently carried out in Sierra Leone by a Doctors with Africa CUAMM team made an important finding: 31% of obstetric complications recorded in Pujehun District, where the organization has been working since 2012 were found in teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19. The situation in Mozambique is especially bad, with some 48.2% marriages involving girls under the age of 18. In Mozambique, alongside its general health care work Doctors with Africa CUAMM is partnering with local and national authorities to support six clinics specifically for teenagers. Called Servicios Amigos dos Adolescentes , the aim of this network is to help young people between the ages of 10 and 14 to learn more about their own health, providing advice on teen reproductive and sexual health, pre- and post-natal pregnancy visits, and information on HIV treatment and birth control.

ASIA/SYRIA - The Patriarchs of Antioch remember the two Bishops kidnapped: "We do not have the support of the 'giants'. Our only hope is in the Lord"

Aleppo - Three years since the disappearance of 2 Metropolitan Bishops of Aleppo - Syrian Orthodox Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Boulos Yazigi – the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Mar Ignatius Aphrem II, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Yohanna X, remember the story of the two confreres kidnapped near Aleppo on April 22, 2013 in a long and intense message addressed to their "beloved spiritual children", to the Syrians and to all men.The case of the two Bishops - says the message kidnapped, sent to Agenzia Fides - is "a miniature of the great human suffering coming from terrorism: massacres, abductions, deracination, takfir, and explosions". But if the intention of the kidnapping was to spread terror among the baptized, the two Patriarchs warn that the operation failed: "We Christians", reads the document "are the descendants of those who, two thousand years ago, put on the name of Christ in this particular land. . We are no giants, and we do not have the support of the “giants”", but "we preserve our identity as Antiochian Easterners, through whatever difficulties or tribulations". "In this troubled path - underline the two Patriarchs - we have spared no effort, but our main and only hope is in God".The words of the Primates of the two Churches of the East sweep away all the maneuvers of those who seek to exploit the suffering of Christians in the Middle East: "We shall continue to live in this East, ringing our bells, building our churches, and lifting up our Crosses. And the arm that will be extended to these Crosses or bells will be twisted by our Muslim brethren from all our national spectra", says the long patriarchal text, where it repeats that the followers of Islam "are suffering like us from the bitterness of blind terrorism and takfir", defined as "a condemned intruder" to our past and present Christian-Muslim relationships. The sufferings of the Eastern Christian are read in the light of salvation promised by Christ: "Despite the horror of the situation and its severity" - write the Patriarchs Mar Aphrem and Boulos - "we throw all this on the way of Golgotha of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cover all the darkness of this age with the light of the Virgin’s eyes, venerated by both Christians and Muslims, whom we implore to bring back to us all kidnapped people, our brother bishops of Aleppo, along with the abducted priests".In the document, the two Patriarchs highlight the way in which the lives of Christians in the Middle East are also reported in the global media debate. "We" the message reads "were not a minority, and will never be". For those "who are keen about the “minorities,” and those who are opening wide the doors to receive the various spectra of Syrians, the two Patriarchs repeat that it is more fitting for them to seek a resolution, saving people from the burden of the perilous sea travel and ship wreckage."We appreciate every humanitarian effort of governments or organizations. However, insist the two Patriarchs, we cannot be protected through facilitating the migration of refugees. We are not petitioning for protection. Rather, we are seeking peace". A peace that "is not founded on the notions of minorities and majorities, but is based on coexistence, citizenship and moderate religious discourse. Peace does not come by enforcing economic blockades and foreign economic sanctions that only hurt the homeless children and the poor people, those people who became cheap commodities for the arms’ market, used according to countries’ interests". Returning to the case of the Bishops kidnapped, in the final part of the document, the two Patriarchs thank the international community for the many public expressions of solidarity received, but invite all, starting with "decision-maker countries", to replace "statements of condemnation and promises" with concrete initiatives that document in facts good intentions. The two Patriarchs invite all their brothers in faith to also look at their own suffering in the light of the Risen Christ, the one who can "comfort the heart of our children, and establish peace in the land of peace. This land of the East", said the statement "is bleeding now, but no doubt will rise again. We are the children of the Resurrection, and the Light".

ASIA/CHINA - The death of Mgr. Thomas Zeng Jingmu, courageous witness of fidelity to the Church

Yujiang – On Saturday, April 2, 2016, His Exc. Mgr. Thomas Zeng Jingmu emeritus and unofficial Bishop of the diocese of Yujiang, in Jiangxi Province died at the age of almost 96. On March 26, Holy Saturday, he fell on the floor at home, after a stroke, suffering severe concussion. He was immediately hospitalized in Fuzhou and underwent surgery. On April 2, his health suddenly deteriorated and he died at 10.50pm.The funeral was celebrated on April 6 in his hometown, by his nephew Rev. Zeng Zhongliang, of the diocese of Yujiang, along with about twenty concelebrants. The unofficial Bishop of the Diocese, His Exc. Mgr. John Peng Weizhao, has been living in limited freedom for some time.Mgr. Zeng had asked, in his will, to celebrate his funeral in his hometown, in a simple form, without speaking of his merits. The funeral was attended by thousands of faithful from the Diocese and from other parts of China, thus testifying the esteem and gratitude for the service he rendered to the Church and to the diocesan community for more than 25 years.The deceased Bishop was born on July 23, 1919 in the village of Zengjiacun, Chongren district, in the province of Jiangxi. In 1930 he entered the Seminary of Wenshan, of the diocese of Yujiang. In 1944 he continued his studies in the major Seminary in Fuzhou in Fujian, and in 1948 he was transferred to Wensheng in Zhejiang Seminary. He was ordained a priest on March 25, 1949 by His Exc. Mgr. William Charles Quinn, C. M., was assistant parish priest and parish priest in various communities. On January 13, 1990, he received episcopal consecration at the hands of His Exc. Mgr. James Xie Shiguang, Bishop of Funing.Mgr. Zeng was a defender of the Catholic doctrine and a courageous witness of fidelity to the Church, at the cost of great sacrifice: he was arrested several times and spent three decades of his life in detention. His love for Christ, the Church and the Holy Father was a great example to many.In his spiritual testament he asked for forgiveness for all their shortcomings and thanked the priests of the diocese for their dedication and their service. Among other things, he hoped to build a church dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in his hometown, in gratitude for the protection and for the graces obtained.

ASIA/PAKISTAN - St. Elisabeth Catholic hospital at the forefront in the country for the care of cancer patients

Hyderabad - A special unit that provides home palliative care to cancer patients, with pain control therapy, has recently opened, and this is the first experience at a national level: the St. Elisabeth Catholic Hospital in Hyderabad, established in 1958, is a precious institution for the territory of the city of Sindh province, and throughout Pakistan, and "provides the best possible care at the lowest possible cost". It assists more than 40 thousand patients a year, of all religions, Muslims, Hindus and Christians, thanks to the professionalism, to structures and high level machinery. "And above all takes care of the needy, rural communities, those who have socio-economic problems, poor families", notes to Fides Fr. Robert Mc Culloch, a Missionary from St. Columban for over 30 years in Pakistan, who for years was chairman of the administration Council of the hospital.Fr. Mc Culloch has become a proponent of a medical outreach program and promoter of the first center for palliative care in Pakistan, assisting the terminally ill even at home. "Catholic Doctors and nurses establish relations of cordiality and good will" he says. "Thanks to the care and the work of the hospital, the Church of Pakistan is seen not as a foreign body in society, but as a community that is an integral part, that helps to cure wounds: This work helps to improve relations of peace, dialogue and harmony in society", he explains. The hospital recently received a visit from Margaret Adamson, Australian High Commissioner for Pakistan, who has renewed her support to the structure and noted the high scientific level achieved, confirming that it is a place of "significant service to the common good in Pakistan".

ASIA/MYANMAR - NGOs appeal to the government: need to face the crisis of the Rohingya

Yangon – Need to face the crisis of the ethnic minority of Rohingya Muslims, who in the past five years have seen a dramatic escalation of human rights violations, marked by repression, discrimination and violence. This is the appeal launched by a network of NGOs to the new Burmese government. The note sent to Agenzia Fides is signed, among others, by organizations like Christian Solidarity Worldide, Burma Action, Burma Campaign, Burmese Rohingya Organisation, Info Birmanie.The text notes that 150,000 people have been displaced and are living in camps which, as described by senior officials of the United Nations, are among "the worst conditions in the world". Well over 100,000 Rohingyas have fled the country in the face of increasing repression, and thousands drowned.The NGO Human Rights Watch has documented violations of human rights based on the legal definition of "ethnic cleansing" and "crimes against humanity". The Rohingya have been deprived of their right to vote, excluded from the recent national census, and are still denied their legal right to citizenship."For decades the military government of Burma has pursued a policy of repression and impoverishment, in an attempt to push the ethnic group of Rohingya out of the country", noted the statement of the NGOs. "The new government led by NLD faces huge challenges. However, given the seriousness of the humanitarian crisis and human rights, a courageous and decisive action to resolve this issue is necessary". The four points suggested by the appeal are: to put an end to speeches that incite hatred; ensure humanitarian access; reform the Citizenship Act of 1982; start a serious investigation inspired by justice and accountability criteria.

AMERICA/CHILE - Mgr. Vargas: "Churches burned to solve the Mapuche conflict is unexplainable"

Temuco - The Bishop of Temuco, His Exc. Mgr. Hector Eduardo Vargas Bastidas, S.D.B. in a testimony sent to Fides, highlights the situation after the attacks on churches which recently occurred in southern Chile. So far nine churches and chapels were set on fire during the early months of 2016, and on-site messages were found relating to the Mapuche case .At a national level, there are more than one million Mapuche people. In the Diocese of Temuco there are priests, deacons, religious, animators and catechists belonging to the Mapuche who work for the Good News every day. Mgr. Héctor Vargas tells Fides what he has already told the media after the attacks on churches and chapels in the region of La Araucania and Arauco province: "he would be willing even to give his life" to resolve the conflict that exists in the area."Churches burned to solve the Mapuche conflict is unexplainable", said the Bishop of Temuco."On our behalf, if offering life could help solve this serious problem, many of us would perhaps be willing to even make this gesture", he concluded.

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - "Too much military presence indicates weakness": demonstration against the inter-oceanic canal

Nueva Guinea - The military and police presence on the route that will follow the fourth national March against the inter-oceanic canal, scheduled for today, April 22, in Nueva Guinea, "scares" the population: is what the Bishop of Matagalpa, His Exc. Mgr. Rolando Alvarez Lagos highlighted.According to Mgr. Alvarez, who was present at other popular protests in his diocese, people have to demonstrate, must express themselves: "it is always good to allow citizens to demonstrate for their demands, but in any case they should never alter or disturb the peace within society".Then the Bishop added: "Too much military presence during citizens' demonstrations, indicates weakness".According to local information, already yesterday, almost all along the route of the march organized for today, military posts were set up and national police groups occupied the area. The people march to protest on misinformation concerning the agreements on the mega project of the Inter-oceanic Grand Canal that will cross the entire country without considering, according to the protesters, the severe damage to the environment and population . Even the Catholic Church has repeatedly asked for clarifications from the authorities .

AMERICA/PANAMA - The ordeal and growing despair among the 2,500 Cubans blocked at the border continues

David - "As Pastoral Social-Caritas Panama, from 6 to 18 April we visited along with some Caritas delegates of David, the centers where there are Cubans migrants in Paso Canoas. Here there are more than 2,000 people waiting to continue their journey to the United States of America". This is how the note sent to Fides on the visit of the Pastoral Social-Caritas Panama begins with regards to the reception centers where Cuban migrants are gathered.The problem of Cuban migrants in Central America started last year and still continues , when more than 7,000 undocumented Cubans who wanted to reach the United States of America, were blocked in the Central American countries .The note sent to Fides continues: "In January an agreement with Mexico had been reached to allow 1,300 migrants to leave for the United States. However, every day 50 new Cuban immigrants arrive in Panama from Colombia and Ecuador. At the moment, there are about 2,500 migrants still camped on the border with Costa Rica, among them are pregnant women and about 80 children under 12 years of age. The centers are under the custody of the Servicio Nacional de Fronteras , which guarantees security and food, with the help of the Panamanian Red Cross and the national and diocesan Office of Pastoral Social-Caritas".For children to drink milk at least 3 times a week, 700 liters of milk per month are needed. "There are no disposable diapers for babies and dry food, sanitary towels and toiletries in general", said the note.The meeting of those in charge of migration of Central American countries on 12 April had aroused great expectations. "Unfortunately at that meeting no agreement was reached, so Cubans blocked at the border have no prospects to continue their journey towards the north" says the text. "Many are trying to survive on odd jobs and some help from relatives in the United States. Their ordeal has lasted for several months. We ask for solidarity to support these brothers and sisters", the statement concludes.

ASIA/TURKEY - The Turkish State opens a case to recover the lands returned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in recent years

Ankara - Turkey has opened a case against the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, to cancel the legal acts with which some land were returned to the Orthodox Patriarchal See, in compliance with the laws providing restitution to the minority religious communities of goods seized in the past by the Turkish authorities. This was reported by local sources, consulted by Agenzia Fides. In particular, the intent is to re-expropriate the Ecumenical Patriarchate of a plot of 98 acres in the Goksu area, and another area in Umit Tepesi, adjacent the Institute of Orthodox theology in Halki. The procedural initiative is yet another case of harassment for legal and administrative channels implemented by the Turkish institutions against the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Mgr. Mata fears a return to the law of the jungle after the violent death of the mayor of Ayala

Estelí - "It hurts me, as a citizen and as pastor, , especially when we talk about a person who followed appropriate channels to raise the issue, but it seems that things are even worse than before. This will promote the law of the jungle", said His Exc. Mgr. Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara, S.D.B Bishop of Esteli, with regards to the murder of the mayor of the community of Ayapal, Andrés Cerrato. The murder took place on April 18, but was reported only yesterday, 20 April, to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights , by the administrators of the Independent Liberal Party .The fact is upsetting the whole country, because about a month ago, on March 12, Cerrato had attended a meeting with Mgr. Mata to condemn the violent acts of the army in the area, including the raid at Cerrato’s house, to threaten the family on charges of covering members of some armed group in the area.Although last night the army colonel Guevara Rocha, who is the official spokesperson, declared that "the army of Nicaragua never carries out such raids", a group of politicians supported the Nicaraguan Pro Human Rights Association's complaint because many were present at the meeting on12 March.

AFRICA/ALGERIA - Social peace at risk due to falling oil and gas prices t

Algiers - The sharp decline in oil prices is likely to have social and political repercussions on those Countries whose main source of income are energy exports. One of these is Algeria, whose economy, recalls a note sent to Agenzia Fides by ISPI , is "a kind of mono-culture of hydrocarbon, where the energy industry is worth about 30% of GDP, 95% of exports and 60% of tax revenues".The note points out that "thanks to the revenue from the sale of energy abroad and the royalties paid by foreign companies, the Algerian government led by President Bouteflika was able to finance a "social pact" with the people and rebuild the Country after the civil war in the 90s. With oil and gas revenues many things were paid: investment in infrastructure and public housing, subsidies regarding the consumption of electricity, fuel, water and food, salaries of civil servants, imports of manufactured goods, etc".This mechanism, however, is in crisis with the fall in oil prices, which has led to "a sharp contraction in the revenue from hydrocarbon exports, which dropped by about $ 60 billion in 2014 to 35 billion in 2015. Despite a partial increase of the production and gas exports in recent months, the further decrease in oil prices recorded in December and January suggests that revenues in 2016 will be even lower, probably around 30 billion dollars.Not only are we assisting to the deterioration of the economy, with the consequent reduction of the State's ability to buy social peace, but we also have to deal with the uncertainties at a political level. "Almost 80-year-old President Bouteflika has not appeared in public for several months, and many people wonder if it is not already dead", says the note. "Contrasts are now evident among the inner circle of the President and the economic and military elite in Algeria. The outcome of these skirmishes is not certain. What is certain is that a failure to increase crude oil prices in the coming years will require drastic political choices", the statement concludes.