By Maria Lozano

South Sudan, located in the heart of Africa, is the youngest nation in the world; it gained independence from Sudan in July 2011. Two years later, a civil war broke out, pitting the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) against the opposition; the conflict has since become a brutal tribal war. The “Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan,” signed by both factions in August 2015, brought but temporary peace, with fighting flaring up again since last summer. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens of South Sudan suffer hunger and are caught in the fighting. The UN estimates that there are 1.7 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the country, 75 percent of whom are struggling to survive in the three states hardest-hit by conflict, Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei.  

By Murcadha O Flaherty and Mónica Zorita

Father Luis Montes, Latin Episcopal Vicar for Kurdistan, told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need: “Approximately 60 percent of the homes on the Nineveh Plains were burned down. The terrorists not only seized all of their belongings. They riddled the region with land mines.”  

By Jaco Klamer

“I don’t understand how people can harm each other so much,” sighs security guard Louis Petrus. Today, Louis has returned to his hometown for the first time: the Christian city of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, which he had to flee on 6 August 2014, when IS occupied the city. “Look at my house: it is damaged, most of my furniture has been stolen and my household effects are broken. Other inhabitants of Qaraqosh had prepared me for what I would find in the city. I had heard stories and seen pictures of the destruction caused by the jihadists. Now that I am seeing the city with my own eyes, I do not know what to feel. The IS terrorists have destroyed a lot of my possessions, but I am still quite well off, considering the damage that I can see in my neighbours’ houses: many houses have been burned or even completely destroyed. I have been blessed.” 

By Joop Koopman

India is a country of more than 1.2 billion people, with Christians accounting for only some 3 percent of the population, including close to 19 million Catholics. Despite its relatively small size, the Indian Church has a disproportionate impact on Indian society through education, its social services and its provision of health care. In recent years, with the ascension to power of the Hindu nationalist BJP party, there has been a rising tide of violent attacks on Christians as well as Muslims. Growing intolerance of faiths considered to be foreign imports adds to the wounds of both Christian and Muslims of low caste background—known as dalits—who are denied government benefits awarded to low-caste Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhist to compensate for centuries of discrimination by the dominant Hindu culture.  

By Murcadha O Flaherty and Josué Villalón

CATHOLIC parents whose son was killed by a suicide bomber in the 2016 Easter Sunday attack at Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, Pakistan have told Lahore’s Archbishop that they have forgiven the man that killed their child.

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