Middle East Council of Churches

Unofficial news from the Middle Eastern Christian Ecumenical organization.

Maintained by Tom Scudder

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Saturday, July 12, 2003
More Bidawid obituaries:

posted by Tom at 10:55 PM

Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Catching up on the Iraq news:

Action by Churches Together has been putting out regular situation reports on Iraq, which can be found at this site. Among the things that jumped out at me from reading the last months' worth:

  • A paragraph talking about Diakonia Emergency Aid's work in a couple small towns, taken from the June 5 report:
    The population of Badra is approximately 6.000. They only received relief materials from the Iranian Red Crescent. The arrival of IDPs during the war had a big impact on the region, as locals shared their food with them. Although Jassan town is only 10 km from Badra, no assistance arrived there before the RCI [Relief Committee in Iraq] shipment. The population of Jassan is around 6,500. Till now only a small amount of medical aid from Kuwait and food as well as medicine from Iranian Red Crescent was sent to the area. There are two hospital, but no medical treatment available, as there are little medicines with which to treat people. Increased incidents of diarrhea amongst children have been reported. The lack of power supplies during the war left all the hospitals’ vaccines and sensitive medicines spoiled. The doctors have requested medical assistance from RCI that include medicines to treat pediatric illnesses, diabetics, as well as syringes, antibiotics, serums, vaccines, cardiology medicines, blood pressure medicines, and vaccines for polio and measles.

  • From the June 23 report, a detailed listing of relief supplies (mostly blankets and bedsheets) delivered by MECC to different hospitals in Iraq
  • Also from that report, a set of interviews with Christian leaders reflecting on the World Conference on Religion and Peace meeting (mentioned below) between Iraqi religious leaders held in Amman

posted by Tom at 3:29 PM

Chaldean Patriarch Rafael I Bidawid died yesterday. Here is the small story on the official MECC site.

Bidawid was responsible for churches in war-torn countries for the last 30 years of his life, first as bishop of the Chaldean church in Lebanon, then as Patriarch based in Baghdad starting just before the 1990 Gulf War. He was too sick to function for the last year or so, and was in a hospital in Beirut during the second (or third, depending on how you count) Gulf war.

It will be very interesting to see who ends up as the new Patriarch. Whoever it is will have some difficult times ahead of him.
posted by Tom at 3:04 PM

Sunday, July 06, 2003
Action by Churches Together: Appeal for Iraq (three weeks old, but still current):
As images of military action in Iraq are fading from our television screens, millions of Iraqis are coping with consequences of the fatal combination of crippling sanctions, dictatorship, previous wars and the recent military action. Over 60% of the Iraqi population relies entirely on external assistance. Public services are severely disrupted and any delay in restoring them will increase already rather dramatic security concerns and health issues.

Almost two months into the new era, the Coalition Forces and the international community in Iraq are struggling to establish order, help Iraq through its challenging period of transition to a stable, modern state and at the same time, address urgent humanitarian needs. Iraq remains in need of rapid and forceful action that will help its population get back on its feet.

posted by Tom at 5:53 PM

Official web site: Report on aid distribution in Jordan. Detail for aid geeks.
posted by Tom at 5:47 PM

Uri Avneri on the Gush Shalom site:

The Draw

Therein lies the answer to the questions that are being asked now: Will the Hudna [Arabic for truce] last? Will it continue after the initial three-month period? Will Arafat and Abu-Mazen succeed in bringing Hamas along with them?

The answers depend completely on the mood of the Palestinian population. If it wants the Hudna, the Hudna will last. If it detests the Hudna, it will collapse. Hamas does not want to lose public sympathy by breaking a popular Hudna. On the contrary, it wants to play a major role in the future Palestinian state. But if the population comes to the conclusion that the Hudna has borne no fruit, Hamas will be the first to break it.

On what will this depend? If the Hudna delivers a major political achievement to the nation and a marked improvement in the quality of life to individuals, it will be popular and take root.

posted by Tom at 5:41 PM