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Connections

Updates from CNEWA’s world

Israel-Hamas War Claims Thousands of Lives

The Israel-Hamas war, which erupted after Hamas launched a barbaric attack on Israel on 7 October, had claimed the lives of 1,200 Israelis and more than 13,000 Gazans at the time of publication. About 145 Israelis were still being held hostage by Hamas. 

CNEWA’s regional office in Jerusalem, with staff in Gaza, has been monitoring the situation in Israel and Gaza. Many of the agency’s partners in Gaza were sheltering and caring for thousands of people, including at the Arab Orthodox Cultural Center — which was flattened by an Israeli airstrike on 30 October — the YMCA and Al Ahli Arab Hospital. An explosion at the hospital killed 471 people, according to Gazan officials. A bomb also collapsed a building of the historic Church of St. Porphyrios, where the parents and an infant niece of a CNEWA staff member were sheltering and killed.    

Joseph Hazboun, CNEWA’s director in Jerusalem, reported that funds are “immediately required” to sustain the vast humanitarian needs in Gaza. Provisions to date have included food, potable water, fire extinguishers, medicine and clothes. However, the needs continue to increase, he said.  

In this time of war, as the minority Christian population in the Holy Land faces yet another potential mass exodus, Mr. Hazboun reflects on the Christian commitment to the land where Jesus walked in “A Letter From the Holy Land” on Page 14.

Confronting Global Crises

Some of the world’s worst crises are happening in countries and regions where CNEWA works, including in Armenia, Ethiopia, the Holy Land and Ukraine. Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari, CNEWA president, focused the most recent installments of “Connections With Msgr. Peter” on underlining these crises and CNEWA’s response efforts. 

A special edition of “Connections” on 27 September featured Adriana Bara, national director of CNEWA in Canada, and Anna Dombrovska, projects officer, to speak about their solidarity visit to Ukraine this past summer and the ongoing needs of CNEWA-supported projects in Ukraine. 

“From east to west, from south to north, we help to bring food, warmth, shelter, medication, psychological relief, spiritual support,” said Ms. Dombrovska. “And all of that is brought with the love of God.” 

To catch up on CNEWA’s efforts in these regions in crisis, watch the latest installments of “Connections With Msgr. Peter” at youtube.com/CNEWA. 

Food Insecurity in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia’s northern Amhara and Tigray regions, “drought-like conditions” are affecting more than 5 million people and contributing to food shortages, placing more than 2 million people in Tigray at risk of a food insecurity crisis, said Argaw Fantu, regional director for CNEWA’s Ethiopia office. In response, CNEWA will provide emergency funding to school-based food programs in the Eparchy of Adigrat in 2024.  

The crisis is due to “disease outbreaks” and “the combined effects of climate events, conflicts and inter-communal violence,” he explained. 

Alice Wairimu Nderitu, U.N. Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, expressed concern over a risk of “genocide and related atrocity crimes” in Ethiopia, due to “mass killings, rape, starvation, destruction of schools and medical facilities, forced displacement and arbitrary detention,” as well as the targeting of groups “on the basis of ethnicity.”

Refugee Support in Armenia

Azerbaijan’s military offensive on the ethnically Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh on 19 September — which resulted in Azerbaijan gaining control of the region in a cease-fire agreement the next day — caused the immediate displacement of more than 100,000 people to Armenia. In the nine months prior to the offensive, the Azerbaijan military blocked the Lachin corridor, the sole route connecting the region to Armenia. The resultant shortage of food, water and medicine in Nagorno-Karabakh elicited allegations of genocide from world leaders.

CNEWA rushed funds to its partners in Armenia, including Caritas Armenia and the Armenian Catholic Ordinariate, to support their efforts in assisting refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh. Read more about the work of the church to help these families driven out of their homeland on Page 6.

Ecumenism in the East

CNEWA co-sponsored a conference in Rome, on 15-16 November, entitled “Eastern Catholics’ Ecumenical Vision in Dialogue with the Orthodox.” The international conference was organized by the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Read about the symposium on our blog: cnewa.org/blog.

Annual ‘Healing & Hope’ Gala

CNEWA’s “Healing & Hope” Gala Dinner on 5 December in Manhattan honored Sister Marie Claude Naddaf of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd for her work in fighting human trafficking. John J. Studzinski, K.S.G., was presented with CNEWA’s Faith & Culture Award for his work and advocacy against trafficking through the Arise Foundation. ONE went to print prior to the gala, so for updates and photos, please visit cnewa.org/blog.

Read this article in our digital print format here.

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