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Aid organizations rush to help Nepal earthquake survivors

An earthquake killed at least 157, injured scores and made thousands homeless in Nepal, prompting the government and charities to rush aid to the affected families.

Published: November 10, 2023 11:07 AM GMT

Updated: November 10, 2023 11:09 AM GMT

Charities in Nepal have joined the government in reaching out and assisting victims of an earthquake that killed at least 157 people, injured scores and made thousands homeless. The authorities have concluded rescue operations following the quake that hit Jajarkot and Rukum districts in western Nepal last Friday.

Besides killing 157 people the 6.4-magnitude quake damaged about 5,000 houses.  The worst-hit Jajarkot district recorded at least 105 deaths.

Relief and humanitarian organizations such as Catholic charity Caritas Nepal have started mobilizing resources including the distribution of relief material like blankets, clothes, tents, and tarpaulins to affected families.

The agency has approved funds equivalent to 112,000 US dollars for aid and rehabilitation of the affected families. United Nations agencies, including the World Food Program, have been providing temporary shelter, food, and non-food items as a part humanitarian assistance and reached out to about 7,500 people.

Survivors of a recent earthquake sit in front of a damaged house in Chiuri, a village in Nepal's Jajarkot district on Nov. 5

Survivors of a recent earthquake sit in front of a damaged house in Chiuri, a village in Nepal's Jajarkot district on Nov. 5. (Photo: AFP)

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About 2,000 people, mostly Christian ethnic Santals and some Bengali Muslims marched on a street in northern Bangladesh on Monday to mark the seventh anniversary of a violent eviction that left three tribals killed and scores injured.

During the rally in Gaibandha district, Santal leaders deplored the lack of progress in the legal process to ensure justice for the victims of violence and arson attacks of Nov. 6, 2016. The Santals filed a criminal case of murder and violence against a local sugar mill authority, police and ruling Awami League politicians and supporters.

For seven years, the Santals in Bangladesh have been seeking justice for the 2016 police atrocities against them. (Photo: File)

The Santals have rejected a police probe that omitted the key accused in the case including former parliamentarian Abul Kalam Azad and demanded a new probe.

The deadly violence stemmed from a decades-old land dispute between Santal villagers and a local sugar mill authority who refused to return ancestral land to 2,500 Santal and Bengali families.  

Catholics in the western Indian state of Maharashtra are continuing their battle to reclaim a 16-century Portuguese-era heritage church.

Recently, a court allowed Catholic activist, Melwyn Fernandes, to intervene in an ongoing legal battle to reclaim, restore and declare the church as a historical monument.

The ruins of Our Lady of Mercy Church (Nossa Senhora Des Merces) built by Portuguese Jesuits in 1562 at Thane in the western state of Maharashtra.(Photo: youtube.com)

He is tasked to expedite a case filed by clergy in Bombay Archdiocese to reclaim the Our Lady of Mercy Church built by Portuguese Jesuits in 1562 at Thane, around 45 kilometers away from India’s financial capital Mumbai. The church is currently in ruins, a part of which is being claimed by a Hindu temple trust.

The dispute dates back to 1970 when the church was being renovated and a stone with Hindu carvings was found at the entrance arch. Hindus residing nearby started a campaign that the church existed on what was originally a temple of the Hindu god Shiva.

A prominent broadcaster was shot dead during a live radio show last Sunday in the latest killing of a journalist in the Catholic-majority Philippines. 57 year old Juan Jumalon, also known as DJ Johnny Walker, was killed in a brazen attack in his studio and witnessed by people watching his program on social media.

The unidentified gunman came to the studio at his home in the southern Philippines and secured entry by pretending to make an urgent announcement during the program, aired on 94.7 Calamba Gold FM.

The College Editors' Guild of the Philippines and others hold a protest vigil outside the Commission on Human Rights to condemn the killing of Juan Jumalon in Manila on Nov. 5. (Photo: John Louie Abrina)

A video clip of the shooting has gone viral, showing Jumalon being shot twice by the suspect who snatched Jumalon’ gold necklace before fleeing. His killing is the 199th since 1986 and the fourth under the watch of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. 

Some 102 of the slain journalists worked with radio stations. Press freedom watchdogs ranks Philippines as one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists.

Police in Vietnam have released four protestant Christians, who were arrested last week. They have been allegedly instructed to stop practicing their faith independently. Media reports say the freed Christians have returned to their home last Saturday.

They were arrested after the authorities accused them of opposing the communist government by not joining state-approved religious organizations.

Protestants in Vietnam’s Central Highlands protest against the suppression of religious freedom. (Photo: Montagnards for Justice via RFA)

Many ethnic Montagnard families in Dak Lak and some provinces in the Central Highlands follow Protestantism independently. This draws the ire of the authorities in a country where religious freedom is restricted, and Christians often face persecution.

During their detention, Christians were made to work all day but were not beaten. The independent Protestant groups have no leaders and no organizational structure, but all members have equal rights. Pastors are just trusted representatives of their group.

The pro-Beijing regime in Tibet has asked more than 400 teachers and students in elementary and middle schools to denounce Dalai Lama, the supreme leader of Tibetan Buddhism, and his alleged separatist activities by pledging allegiance to China.

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Media reports referring to sources in Tibet said that the call was made during a Beijing-sponsored workshop in October. China’s communist rulers accuse the exiled leader of Tibetan Buddhism of being a separatist, who plots to split the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan-populated areas of western China from the rest of the country.

Tibetan supreme spiritual leader Dalai Lama. (File Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Following the Chinese invasion and annexation of Tibet in the 1950s, Dalai Lama and his supporters escaped to India and are now based in Dharamshala in the mountainous Himachal Pradesh state.

The 88-year-old Buddhist leader has repeatedly said he only advocates a “middle way” that accepts Tibet’s status as a part of China and urges greater cultural and religious freedoms for Tibetan people.

Hong Kong’s bishop Cardinal Stephan Chow Sau-yan has reiterated his commitment to making his diocese a ‘bridge church’ that connects the church in China and the world. Chow made the remarks last Saturday while speaking to the media after his first Mass in the city after Pope Francis made him a cardinal on Sept. 30.

As part of Hong Kong’s diocese’s mission to be a “bridge church” he visited Beijing Archdiocese in mainland China in April to develop connections and exchanges.

Cardinal Stephan Chow Sau-yan of Hong Kong. (File photo: AFP)

Chow’s visit to Beijing was the first trip of a Hong Kong bishop since the 1997 British handover. Now, Beijing Archbishop Li Shan is scheduled to make a five-day visit to Hong Kong starting Nov. 14. The visit comes at a time when Beijing tightened its grip on Hong Kong by imposing the repressive National Security Law to crush a strong pro-democracy movement.

Meanwhile, the Sino-Vatican agreement of 2018 on the appointment of Catholic bishops faces test of time as the Vatican recently accused China of violating the deal.

Former members of Japan’s controversial Unification Church and lawyers have slammed its public apology as “a sham.” They have blasted the Church for receiving excessive donations and evading responsibility for the suffering and trauma caused.

During a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Attorney Katsuomi Abe alleged the church leadership is showing “no intention to face up to the damage created by the church.” Earlier this week, Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the church’s Japanese branch, for the first time had apologized to former followers and their children for the hardships they endured.

Unification Church president Tomihiro Tanaka speaks at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on Aug 10, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

The apology came following a government move seeking a court to dissolve the church in October. The church came under heavy scrutiny after Tetsuya Yamagami shot and killed Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8 last year.

Yamagami said he targeted Abe for his ties to the church and had alleged that he and his family faced economic hardships after his mother made hefty donations to the church that bankrupted the family.

A smartphone app allowing users to locate graves of their loved ones has elated Catholics in South Korea. The 'Cemetery Address Platform' allows users to receive detailed information on a particular grave simply by entering the name of the deceased persons on a smartphone.

The app has been developed by Infoseed Co. Ltd. with support from Seoul Archdiocese. The platform uses Geo.nick, a global precision address solution patented by Infoseed, to record and search cemeteries. 

John Baptist Kwon Yo-han, developer of the Cemetery Address Platform app, explains how to use it at Yongin Park Cemetery in Seoul in this undated image. (Photo: Catholic Times)

By assigning a unique address to each cemetery, like a street number or street name address, and integrating this with the baptismal name of the deceased, the exact location can be found with just one search.

The app is currently being used to find graves at Yongin Park Cemetery in the Archdiocese of Seoul, and service will be available for 20,000 burial graves within a year.

Catholics now make 17.6 percent of world’s population. Catholic Church has recorded steady growth in Africa, Asia, and the Americas with an increase in the number of baptized Catholics and clergy while Europe continues to experience a decline.

The Catholic population increased by 8.3 million in Africa.

Catholics pose in front of a cardboard stand-up photograph of Pope Francis in suburban Manila ahead of his visit to the country in 2014. (Photo: AFP / Getty Images)

In America they increased to 6.6 million and in Asia, they grew to 1.49 million and about 55,000 in Oceania in 2021, according to Church’s Yearly Book of Statistics published by the Vatican.

In that year, Catholics in Europe dropped by 244,000. Catholics in Asia were 153.3 million with an annual increase of 1.49 million. Asian Catholics accounted for 11 percent of the global Catholic population.

The global population was 7.785 billion as of Dec. 31, 2021, and Catholics accounted for 1.3 billion with an increase of 16.2 million compared to the previous year. 

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