In 1814, Napoleon lost and Paris fell; in 1914, World War I started; it’s now 2014 and humans still have yet to learn from history. There are people being plunged into an abyss of misery and our land is beset by war. From the news and messages circulating on online communication media, people are extremely concerned about the brutalities of ISIS, an extremist Islamic organisation in Iraq. Children and civilians are killed or forced to leave their home in great fear. The world has no idea how to bring this to an end.
Climate conflict is a popular international development issue in recent years. Different researches over the relation of climate change and conflict arrive at different conclusions. Some say climate change will lead to fight over scarce and valuable resources like water. On the other hand some believe that their link is weak and do not think it’s worth a discussion at all.
Recent researches show that the relationship between climate change and the conflict causing by it is more complex than expected. A deeper understanding of the connection between climate change and conflict requires a careful examination of the drivers of violence and the role of the environment in individuals’ livelihoods. Some scholars point out that the relationship between climate and conflict is closely linked to the economic development of the region that it affects. Climate conflict is most likely seen in rural and non-industrialised regions where a large portion of the population is still dependent on the natural environment for their income and sustenance. In most sub-Saharan African countries, more than two-thirds of the population is employed in agriculture. A change in climate conditions could have negative impacts on the country’s stability.
However, researchers would emphasise that one should not always assume that there is a causal relationship between climate change and conflict. Many other factors such as political exclusion of persecuted minority groups, economic inequalities, and weak central government institutions may play a more important role in conflicts. When scholars enter into an in-depth examination of the causes of conflict, they find that land distribution and rights of access to resources are the most pressing issues that the communities of the conflict regions are facing. The problems are almost entirely determined by local and national government policies. Therefore, governance and resource distribution policies are often the real source of conflict, but their impact is obscured by the climate conflict debate. Leaders of certain African countries blame climate change and drought as reasons of famines and conflict, instead of their corrupt land reallocation policies or political violence against their people.
Scholar thinks that climate conflict debate can easily mislead people into the trap of environmental determinism, i.e. climatic factors define human behaviour and culture. One such supposition is that a society’s cultural norms depend if it is located in a tropical or temperate region. Scholar reminds us not to ascribe too much causal weight to one particular factor but ignore the importance of political and socio-economic conditions and the motive and agency of actors. Many people just believe that in developing countries, violence is one of their first natural reactions to societal change, where collaboration among societies indeed happens more often. [IPS]
Meditation on Scriptures:
This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:18,19)
Pray for those places affected by climate change and related conflicts:
Carbon emission of rich countries is the major cause of climate change. However, the disastrous effect is borne by the poor and disadvantaged groups. Let us change our consumption behavior and abstain from unnecessary use of materials that consume environmental resources.
Climate change triggers more extreme weather events, causing home loss, migration and human casualty. The impact on developing countries is especially great. May those countries have better plans and advanced capacity to combat the increasing disaster risk.
Social inequality and power abuse are the breeding ground of conflict. Pray that the countries can improve the social system and protect human rights, in order to reduce the latent factors of conflict.
Iraq is experiencing one of the largest internal population displacements in the world and the recent surge in sectarian violence threatens to unleash a wave of new violence against women and girls.
Since the beginning of 2014, the UN estimates as many as 1.2 million people have been uprooted due to fighting between militants from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS), local Sunni tribes, Shia militias and the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), more than 7,000 people were killed in the last six months and more than 13,000 injured. In the month of June alone, UNAMI recorded 2,417 deaths and 2,287 injuries. This is the highest month of casualty rate since 2007, the peak of Iraq’s sectarian civil war in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion.
Shortly after the conquest of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, ISIS militants armed with assault rifles went door to door taking “women who are not owned” for Jihad Al-Nikad, or sex jihad. In just one week (Jun 9 – 12), women’s rights activists documented 13 cases of women who were kidnapped and raped by the militants who also forced men to watch the rape of their wives, daughters and sisters. Of the 13 women, four of them committed suicide out of shame; one woman’s brother even committed suicide because he could not bear the guilt of his inability to protect his sister.
Before the conflicts, it was already difficult being a woman in Iraq, but the current wave of conflicts threatens to make life even worse for them. UN Population Fund (UNFPA) warned at the beginning of this month that an estimated 20,000 women and girls in Iraq are at an increased risk of sexual violence as a result of the mounting crisis in the north and west. It also raised public attention that the violence in northern Iraq in the past month has displaced approximately one million people, in which there are 250,000 women and girls, and including nearly 60, 000 pregnant women, are all in need of urgent health care and protection.
Women and girls have often been the center of sexual and gender-based violence amidst conflicts around the world. Let us pray for the displaced people of Iraq, especially for women and girls who are most vulnerable amidst conflicts. [IPS, UN]
Meditation on Scriptures:
‘You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
You encourage them, and You listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.’ (Psalm 10:17-18)
Pray for Iraq that:
The leaders of the Iraqi government, ISIS and religious sects can actively participate in the settlement of the current conflicts in Iraq.
The rights of women and girls in Iraq will be protected.
The required support (esp. funds) in continuing life-saving humanitarian assistance will be met.
The Christians living in Iraq will not be persecuted amidst the sectarian conflicts.
The conflict has its roots in protests that erupted in mid-March 2011 in the southern city of Deraa, after the arrest and torture of some teenagers who painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall. Syria’s crisis enters its forth year and fighting in Syria between government forces and opposing groups continues to escalate. More than 100,000 lives have been lost and over 2.5 million Syrians have registered as refugees in neighbouring countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. With displacement inside Syria reaches over 6.5 million, the total number of people in flight internally and externally now exceeds 40% of Syria’s pre-conflict population. At least half of the displaced are children. UNHCR predicts the refugee population in the surrounding region will grow to become the largest refugee population in the world.
With a population of around 4.1 million, Lebanon already has the highest per-capita concentration of refugees of any country in recent history, with nearly 230 registered Syrian refugees for every 1,000 Lebanese. Syria’s neighbouring countries, including Lebanon and Jordan, have shown incredible generosity in continuing to offer a safe refuge for people fleeing the crisis. However, drastically increased numbers of arrivals lead to the consequence that basic services and facilities are stretched to the limit. Worse of all, more and more Syrians are putting their lives at the mercy of human smugglers.
This is the most severe humanitarian crisis in the 21st century. The unending cycle of violence, displacement, worsening health, disruption to education and learning put millions of Syrians at risk. A generation, with over 5 million Syrian children, is also at risk of being lost forever. The United Nations stressed the need for a political solution to end the conflict. Only with a political intervention will Syria and her people be rescued from further devastation.
Since 2012, Integral Alliance, a global alliance comprising of 19 Christian relief and development agencies, has been providing relief materials, food parcel, medical care and psychosocial care to Syrian refugees. CEDAR is one of the member agencies of Integral Alliance. Let us pray for Syrian refugees continually. May peace and hope prevail in Syria. [Integral Alliance, Tearfund UK, UNHCR, UN]
Meditate on Hymn:
‘Let Your Heart Be Broken’
May this hymn be your prayers and will:
Let your heart be broken for a world in need: Feed the mouths that hunger, soothe the wounds that bleed,
Give the cup of water and the loaf of bread
Be the hands of Jesus, serving in His stead.
Here on earth applying principles of love,
Visible expression God still rules above
Living illustration of the Living Word
To the minds of all whove Never seen or heard.
Blest to be a blessing privileged to care,
Challenged by the need apparent everywhere.
Where mankind is wanting, fill the vacant place.
Be the means through which the Lord reveals His grace.
Add to your believing deeds that prove it true,
Knowing Christ as Savior, make Him Master, too.
Follow in His footsteps, go where He has trod;
In the worlds great trouble risk yourself for God.
Let your heart be tender and your vision clear;
See mankind as God sees, serve Him far and near.
Let your heart be broken by a brothers pain;
Share your rich resources, give and give again.
Pray for Syria that:
International communities and leaders put most efforts to support an immediate end to the Syrian war;
More support including financial assistance be given to Syria’s neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, from which protect and host can be provided to Syrian refugees;
Lives and basic needs of Syrian refugees are secured and the refugees can return home soon.
South Sudan marks two years of independence on 9 July 2013, but the millions who continue to face displacement, hunger, disease and extreme poverty will be hard pressed to find any reason to celebrate.
Over the past two years, inter-communal violence and conflict between the rebels and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) have caused nearly 350,000 people displaced. Fighting in southern part of Sudan has forced over 220,000 people fleeing into South Sudan. In addition, nearly two million South Sudanese have returned home since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, and so the country is facing serious food shortage. Further, South Sudan is in dire need of trained health workers and health centres and the government has faced criticism over its poor human rights record, such as poor prison conditions, widespread child and forced marriage, arbitrary detention and deteriorating press freedom. [IRIN]
Pray for South Sudan:
Pray for peace and reconciliation in South Sudan;
Pray for timely food and medical relief, and for comprehensive and appropriate rehabilitation.
[ePrayer – Pray for the sexual violence in conflict]
The UN’s Security Council sent a strong signal to perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict that their crimes will not be tolerated and the Council is adopting a new resolution to strengthen efforts to end impunity for a scourge that affects not only large numbers of women and girls but also men and boys. The new resolution emphasized more consistent and rigorous investigation and prosecution of sexual violence crimes as a central aspect of deterrence, and ultimately prevention. Today, it is still largely ‘cost-free’ to rape a woman, child or man in conflict. Angelina Jolie, the Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who emphasized that tackling war-zone sexual violence is the Council’s responsibility, as well as the duty of Governments in countries affected by it. She calls to set rape and sexual violence in conflict as a priority, and combat the crime. [UN News]
Pray for the sexual violence in conflict:
Pray that the Security Council will wisely utilise its authorities, address the sexual crimes in conflict, and coordinate the governments to end impunity.
Pray that the governments of the nations will establish comprehensive and effective legal system. Pray that they can protect the citizens from sexual violence and make the perpetrators prosecuted.