“This is one of the most difficult days in Aleppo’s history,” Ibrahim Abdul Laith told Sojourners over a series of WhatsApp voice notes. “We endured difficulties under the shelling, and under the siege, but even though the situation was difficult, we were fighting for our city.”
Later in the messages, his voice took on a somber tone.
“Now we are being asked to leave.”
On Dec. 19 the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was assassinated in Ankara, Turkey, reports Reuters. The ambassador was giving a speech at an art gallery when a gunman fatally shot him. Three other people were also wounded and the gunman appears to have been killed.
“Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” the gunman shouted after the shooting.
On Dec. 19 the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to send UN observers to Aleppo to oversee the evacuation of civilians, reports Al Jazeera. UN observers will travel soon to Aleppo as will personnel who can administer aid.
“For the first time in numerous attempts to get unanimity on the situation on Aleppo, all of the 15 UN Security Council members have supported this resolution to send UN monitors in Aleppo,” said journalist Mike Hanna.
Many people are still reeling from the election results and become more appalled every day with the appointments and behavior of the President -elect Donald Trump.
And many of our Sojourners readers are asking themselves and us: What can I do?
The politics going on now are indeed beyond our control — but we can control what we do with our own faith and with our own actions.
On Dec. 14 buses that were meant to evacuate citizens and rebel fighters out of Aleppo, Syria, after a raid and massacre by the Syrian government, left — empty, reports the New York Times. Gunfire has been heard by people who are still in the city, and it is believed that a ceasefire established on Dec. 13 — between the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and rebel fighters — has dissolved.
These new cardinals include prelates from 11 dioceses and six countries that have never before had a cardinal, and from places far outside the traditional European orbit of ecclesiastical influence: Albania, for example, plus the Central African Republic, Lesotho, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea.
But the real surprise in these picks, as in past appointments, is that they came as a complete surprise to many of the new cardinals themselves, and to the pope’s closest collaborators.
World Relief, a Christian humanitarian group, resettled twice as many refugees to the U.S. in September as it had in August, an increase that foretells a more robust resettlement pace for the nation in general.
The evangelical nonprofit — one of the nine groups entrusted by the federal government to resettle refugees — found homes for approximately 1,400 people in September. That’s about 14 percent of the total refugees it resettled in the past year.
Pope Francis said those bombing civilians in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo will be “accountable to God” for their actions as he renewed his appeals for peace amid an intensifying civil war in that country.
It also emerged on Sept. 28 that the pontiff has asked a Catholic charity to auction the cars used on a recent trip to Poland and use the proceeds to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
The pope’s emotional appeal for peace in Syria came during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square in which he voiced his heartfelt support and prayers for the people of Aleppo.
On Sept. 21, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a statement claiming that refugees “pose grave danger, like the Iraqi refugee with ties to ISIS who was arrested…after he plotted to set off bombs at two malls in Houston.”
This announcement comes months after Texas lost a court battle in June, in which the state attempted to keep Syrian refugees out entirely.
Pope Francis met with refugees and leaders of religious faiths including Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus who joined him for a day of prayer for peace in Assisi, home of his namesake, the 12th-century friar St. Francis.
But it was the migrants he invited to join him for lunch on Sept. 20 who captured the headlines and illustrated the tangible impact of war and conflict.
WATCH: Images from the protest and interview with speaker Mark Charles.
The California judge who sentenced Brock Turner to only six months after a three-count sexual assault conviction has voluntarily stepped aside and is transferring to the civil division.
“It’s part of a bigger problem,” Padre Isasmendi says. “It’s part of marginalization.”
Despite intense bombing and severe food shortages, several Carmelite nuns are refusing to abandon the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo and have appealed for urgent aid.
“The bombs are falling all around us, but we are not going to leave the people in their suffering,” said Sister Anne-Francoise, a French nun from a community of Discalced Carmelites in Aleppo. “The people here are suffering and dying.”
A strike by U.S. jets nearly 60civilians on July 19 after mistaking them for ISIS fighters, reports The Telegraph.
Before being killed, eight families were fleeing their village of Tokhar in order to escape fighting between ISIS and the U.S.-backed rebels known as the Syria Democratic Forces, according to the reports.
As of May 25, there had been 1,475 deaths since the beginning of the year. By May 30, that number climbed to 2,443 — 968 deaths in just 5 days.
Some officials are attributing this spike to smugglers taking risks with poorer boats as the weather gets nicer.
An airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, has killed at least fourteen patients and staff at a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders. Among the dead is one of the last pediatricians in the city.
Neither the Syrian air force nor Russian military are currently taking responsibility for the attack. The United States and Russia agreed to support a truce between warring parties earlier this year, but those talks have largely broken down in recent months, according to The Washington Post.
A Roman Catholic bishop has challenged Austria’s plans to construct a fence to keep out refugees by refusing to allow the authorities to build on church land and arguing it runs contrary to the pope’s wishes. A fence “would contradict the spirit of the Gospel, Pope Francis’s clear message to Europe, and in particular for a diocese that was in the shadow of the Iron Curtain for decades,” Aegidius Zsifkokvics, the bishop of Eisenstadt, told the AFP news agency.
According to the United Nations’ refugee agency, up to 500 refugees may have drowned last week when an overcrowded ship sank, reports CNN. The 41 survivors of “one of the worst tragedies involving refugees and migrants in the last 12 months” are currently being housed at a stadium in Kalamata, Greece.
Three Syrian families flown to Rome by Pope Francis are calling their trip from the battle lines of a five-year civil war to safety in the shadow of the Vatican a “miracle” journey.
The heart of Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood, with its picturesque cobbled streets and vine-covered walls, could not be farther from the asylum-seeker camp the Muslim families were living in just three days ago.
In accordance with a new deal between the E.U. and Turkey, Greece has begun deporting refugees to Turkey, reports Al-Jazeera. Meanwhile, according to a report issued by Amnesty International, the Turkish government has been forcing Syrian refugees back to Syria. If this is true, Turkey would be violating international law.
Chlorine gas has been used in Syria's civil war for years, but reports of chemical weapons used inside Iraq have been growing in recent weeks. Chlorine gas, mustard gas, and yellow phosphorous have all been discharged—sometimes against military targets, sometimes against civilians. In each case, the attacks leave telltale patterns of burns and physical damage.