In September 2015, the image of the body of the Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, washed up on the shores of Mediterranean Sea, drew the attention of the globe to the European refugee crisis and the wars in Middle East. Just a month ago in April, the equally disheartening image of a Syrian father holding the bodies of his little twins died from chemical attacks has once again stirred people’s sentiments.
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake has hit Ecuador on April 16, following up by a 6.1 magnitude aftershock on April 20. Till now, the disaster has already caused over 600 deaths, 12,000 injured, as well as about 30,000 victims seeking emergency shelter.
At noon on April 25, Nepal was hit by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake – the strongest in 80 years in this poor Asian country. Powerful aftershocks followed and brought widespread devastation. The death toll has climbed close to 3,300 with more than 6,500 injured.
Since the start of 2014 more than 1.4 million Iraqis have left their homes because of fighting. Some 850,000 people, more than half of the total number, have been made homeless in the last two months. In parts of Iraq minority groups, like Yazidis and Christians, are under threat of forced conversion, fines and even death.
Recent conflict has left thousands dead and 800,000 people homeless in Central African Republic (CAR), while 250,000 fled to neighbouring countries–Cameroon, Chad, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than half the population, about 2.5 million people, are in urgent need of food, water, sanitation and healthcare.
The latest chapter in CAR’s history of violence dated its cause in December 2012, when Seleka – a coalition of predominantly Muslim rebel forces – was formed, and it eventually brought the president Francois Bozizé down from power in March 2013. Under the governance of Michel Djotodia, who is the leader of Seleka claimng himself the President of CAR between March 2013 to January 2014, rebellion and waves of lawlessness are seen, and in the absence of police and other state security forces, the largely Christian population in villages across the north has to form self-defence units called ‘anti-balaka’.
A lady seeking refuge in a Catholic sanctuary told her story, that Seleka forces came and razed her entire village, murdering her husband, slashing other family members with a machete and killing five of her neighbours. However, the self-defence units are no less vicious that the former rebels. ‘The anti-balaka came and attacked our house at 5am. They caught my husband on the veranda and sliced him on the head, the side, and the back with a machete when holding him’, another lady added.
A new interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, was elected in January 2014 and has called on all sides to show their support for the interim administration by laying down their arms.
Tearfund UK, a member of Integral Alliance*, told us that the needs are just overwhelming. ‘The people are trying to survive from these horrific experiences against the historical context of very high vulnerability due to chronic poverty, marginalisation, neglect and exploitation. Needs for clean water and sanitation, healthcare, food security, shelter and protection are real and immense. Trauma is widespread thus psycho-social needs are huge given the recent gratuitous violence. There is and will be a need for peace-building and reconciliation at all levels of this now deeply fractured society, pointing to a need for long term engagement for real change and transformation.’ [Tearfund UK(1), Tearfund UK(2), IRIN(1), IRIN(2), IRIN(3),]
Meditate on Scriptures:
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ Matthew 6:9b-10
If you were born in the midst of war and conflict, and if you witnessed, even suffered from violence and cruelty, would you stay or go?
If you hear about the devastations caused by warfires and are told about the dire state where the masses there are in, will you do something or not?
We often pray, ‘May your kingdom come!’ but have we prepared ourselves to participate in this heavenly project? Let us continue praying, ‘May your kingdom come’ but at the same time prepare ourselves to participate in it, in prayer as well as action!
Pray for CAR:
Pray for Catherine Samba-Panza, the new Interim President of CAR, for wisdom, protection, perseverance and a good team around her as she starts working for peace.
Pray that the women and girls would be kept safe, especially those who are vulnerable to sexual assaults, those who staying in their homes, and those who are now living with thousands of others in the refugee camps.
Pray for security, insight, wisdom and deep peace to the frontline workers of Tearfund UK and other aid agencies in the midst of crisis.
Pray that the international community will keep its promise to ensure the continuation of humanitarian and peacekeeping work in CAR, so that the vulnerable can be protected and peace be restored.
* Integral Alliance is a global alliance comprising of 19 Christian relief and development agencies, working together to deliver a more effective response to poverty worldwide. CEDAR is one of the member agencies.