Countries of Concern

A special focus on the most unstable countries that give Baptist Methodist and United Reformed Churches concern.


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  • A Prayer for Yemen

  • Attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt

    On 9 April bombs at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria and in St George’s Church, Tanta during Palm Sunday services killed at least 45 people and injured over 120. These attacks on the Coptic Christian community have been claimed by Islamic State.  At a time when attacks are increasing, Palm Sunday was the worst day of violence ...

  • Marking the 100 year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration that promised a homeland for the Jewish people

    In November 1917 the government of Britain issued the Balfour Declaration which promised a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine whilst also promising to protect the rights of the existing indigenous Arab population. However, in 1915 Britain had already promised the Arabs that after the war they would be granted independence in their lands, including Palestine.  ...

  • Action on arms sales to Saudi Arabia

    The conflict in Yemen has killed over 10,000 civilians to date. It has caused nearly three million people to flee their homes and the country is now in the grip of a cholera epidemic. Human right groups have submitted substantial documentary evidence of atrocities against civilians and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has referred ...

  • Churches call for the UK government and UN General Assembly to act on Aleppo

    The UN has warned that mass starvation in Aleppo is a real prospect if aid is not allowed in.  As the city comes under further bombardment and food is about to run out, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu faith leaders call on the UK Government to act.  They issued the following statement on Monday 28th ...

  • Syria and our failure to protect civilians

      A briefing on Syria is available here: syria-and-our-failure-to-protect-civilians Our Churches take the view that, while the institutions of the United Nations appear weak at times, we nevertheless seek to imbue the United Nations with authority in conflict prevention and resolution. When faced with crimes against humanity, if the UN Security Council finds itself unable to agree a ...

  • Prayer Update: Asia Bibi case postponed

    Asia Bibi has been on death row in Pakistan since 2010 for allegedly breaking the country’s strict blasphemy laws. Bibi denies the allegations. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are heavily criticised for their use to persecute minority faiths. Although the majority of convictions have been against members of the Sunni Muslim majority, there have been disproportionately large numbers ...

  • What does the future hold for Iraq’s religious minorities?

    In August 2014, ISIS (Da’esh) brutally displaced 400,000 Yazidis from the Sinjar region of northern Iraq, enslaving women and girls and driving out families from their houses. Turkmen and Christian minorities were also forced out of their communities in Tal Afar and the Nineveh Plains respectively. In Mosul, Da’esh imposed a vicious rule that resulted ...

  • Walking together – Pakistan

    In this article Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator Asia & Pacific, World Church Relationships Team in the Methodist Church in Britain offers some personal reflections following the shooting of the Sikh leader, Sardar Soran Singh, a murder that is thought to have been politically motivated.   I recently received a special edition of the Peshawar Diocesan Newsletter, produced solely to ...

  • Write to Pakistan PM: Lahore Bombing and the Blasphemy Law

    More than 70 people were killed and a further 300 injured in the bomb attack in Lahore on Easter Sunday. The group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which has associations with the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack and confirmed that they targeted Christians celebrating Easter. Despite this, many of those killed were Muslim. Although this attack was not a direct consequence of ...

  • ‘Our plea is to respect the equal dignity of every human being’ – Joint letter to the Home Secretary

    Leaders of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church have written a letter to the Home Secretary asking her to offer sanctuary to more people in need. This week the United Nations High Commission for Refugees pledging conference for pathways of admission for Syrian refugees takes ...

  • EAPPI: Israeli military continue to harass school children

    The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) reports that Israeli military continue to harass school children.  They have fired teargas into a Palestinian School and live rounds into a crowd.  Read this post from Katherine, a Methodist Ecumenical Accompanier.  There are actions suggested for us to consider. He knows neither the time nor the place

  • TAKE ACTION: Pakistan Blasphemy Law

    Last year we blogged about Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law and the suffering being endured as a result of it. We asked you to send letters to Pakistan’s Prime minister asking for a repeal of the law. Over a thousand people, including Muslims as well as people of other faiths, have died as a result of the blasphemy law since ...

  • Download the Public Issues Calendar for 2016

    The Public Issues Calendar dates are available for download. Click the link below to access the important dates to put in your diary for this year. Calendar dates 2016

  • Call to action: Saudi Arabia and the death penalty

    More than 150 people have been put to death in Saudi Arabia so far this year. It is the highest number of executions since 1995. On death row since 2012 are Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and Dawoud Hussain al-Marhoon. A 15 year old and two 17 year olds arrested and sentenced for their involvement in ...

  • A call to action: Repeal Pakistan’s blasphemy law

    Every day, people in Pakistan are suffering from religious persecution as a result of the Blasphemy Law. The legislation means that anyone perceived to make derogatory remarks towards Islam can be accused of breaking the law and punished with lifelong imprisonment or the death penalty. One high profile case is that of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi. ...

  • Christians Aware Action Briefing – October 2015

    Message from Jenny Vaughan, Activism Officer at Progressio. It’s a reality we don’t want to think about and find hard to imagine. It’s hardly in the news like most of the countries where Progressio works, but the Yemini people are suffering. Abeer, our Yemini Country Manager has spent night after night like all other mothers in ...

  • Church of Scotland calls for recognition of the State of Palestine

    Today the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland passed a motion (General Assembly calls this a “deliverance”) to call on the UK Government to recognise the State of Palestine.  The timing of the motion is apt given the breakdown in peace talks last year and the inauguration of a new Government in Israel. Coincidentally, last ...

  • Syrian Refugees and Resettlement – Action Card

    What might the New Year hold for the people of Syria who are variously suffering under aerial bombardment, living under threat of violent extremism or sheltering as refugees in neighbouring countries? Faith leaders have urged the Prime Minister to build a coalition for effective action on the part of the United Nations to prevent atrocities in ...

  • Looking beyond ISIL – An article from Archbishop Justin Welby

    Archbishop Justin Welby writes in Prospect Magazine yesterday on the struggle against violent fundamentalism.  The article deserves reading.  The core message is immensely challenging and we should take it to heart.  The theme is one that he touched on in his speech in the House of Lords on 26 September.  Then, he stated that our ...

  • WORLD WEEK FOR PEACE IN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL:   21 – 27 SEPTEMBER 2014 

    Child Prisoners   The World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel is an iniative of The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches. They  invites member churches, faith-based communities, and civil society organizations around the world to join together  for a week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the ...

  • Crisis in Iraq – responses must be rapid and wise

    Yesterday President Obama authorised the use of US air strikes in Iraq if the Islamic extremist group, who now refer to themselves as the Islamic State (IS), try to conquer the city of Erbil.  The US will also provide air support to drop relief supplies to those fleeing the violence. The Islamic militants of the Islamic ...

  • Iraq, ISIS and the latest Christian exodus

    In recent years Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, has become a place of refuge for Christians fleeing from Baghdad and Basra.  On Tuesday and Wednesday 500,000 people are reported to have fled the city.  Among the refugees are reported to be all of Mosul’s Christians.  They are thought to be sheltering in surrounding Christian villages ...

  • Prayers for Syria

    The situation in Syria is particularly in the news and on our hearts at the moment. These prayers have been written in response to the current situation. A prayer written by the Revd David Grosch-Miller, moderator-elect of General Assembly of the United Reformed Church: Gracious God look with compassion upon your people. Where anger and fear encourage ...

  • Syria – can we exercise a Responsibility to Protect?

    There is a collective sigh of relief in the UK since Parliament voted to exclude our forces from any punitive military action in Syria. But our options are not, as some are suggesting, “military intervention” or “stand by and do nothing”. Military intervention will not serve to protect Syrians from further chemical weapons attacks. Instead ...

  • Israel election – rise of moderates leaves Palestine uncertain

    In Israel’s election on Tuesday Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Beiteinu polled more than any other party albeit with a substantially reduced number of seats. The biggest surprise is the strong showing of the newly formed centrist Yesh Atid party that has secured 19 Knesset seats. Its leader and former TV broadcaster Yair Lapid stated before the election ...

  • Palestinian statehood and need for continued reform

    News has just come through on the vote at the UN recognising Palestine as a “non-member State” and Palestinians are celebrating the streets.  Several European states decided in the past few days not to oppose the vote that President Mahmoud Abbas has described as issuing “a birth certificate for the State of Palestine”. Leaders within the Palestinian Authority ...

  • Trading Away Peace

    In 1993 the Oslo agreements were marked with the historic handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn. Israel agreed to withdraw from defined areas of the West Bank and Gaza and to allow elections to take place to enable a Palestinian Authority to have some degree of autonomy. At the time ...

  • Colombia – peace, human rights and ecumenical accompaniment

    A new round of peace talks begin this week in Oslo between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos. Officially peace has already come and under law the government treats armed activity as criminality. In practice many areas remain on a military footing and groups on both ...

  • Osama Bin Laden killed

    The Methodist Church has today issued a statement to the Methodist Recorder on the killing of Osama Bin Laden. I may blog later on the implications of Osama’s elimination for future US policy in Afghanistan and would be keen to hear your views. It seems that in September of last year US intelligence were reasonably sure that ...

  • Fatah/Hamas reconciliation – towards a Palestinian State?

    We should take heart that from time to time we can be surprised by developments in the Israel / Palestine conflict. Yesterday in Cairo, Fatah and Hamas announced a reconciliation deal. Four years ago that the two factions were battling against each other with guns on the streets of Gaza. Now, with the help of ...

  • Libya – Will bombs help?

    Interfering in another country’s civil war is always a dangerous thing. History does not provide us with many successful examples. It is even more difficult when we don’t know whose side we are on – we only know whose side we are against. Such “anyone but my enemy” strategies have led to a number of costly ...

  • Libya No-Fly Zone ?

    Since Qaddafi ordered his troops to open fire on peaceful demonstrators there have been powerful the calls for military intervention to help bring his regime to an end. As I write Britain, France and Lebanon are calling for the Security Council to authorise the imposition of a no-fly zone. But a no-fly zone alone would be unlikely to be ...

  • Greetings from Hebron

    Yesterday I was in Hebron. We walked down Shuhada Street, the main thoroughfare of the city having left our Palestinian colleague from The Holy Land Trust behind. As he is Palestinian he is not allowed to walk down this street in the main centre of Hebron. He had to go through the back alleys to meet us ...

  • Praying with the people of Jesusalem

    I think it is great when we have the opportunity to be creative in a group! Each year, the World Council of Churches (WCC), asks each country to alert Christians to the World Week for Prayer for Palestine-Israel. So, we put our heads together – (one Friend, one URC member, one Roman Catholic and a ...

  • Passports “Taken Out” on the Today Programme

    When the story of the killing of an alleged Hamas leader, al-Mabhouh, in Dubai broke there were two things that were focussed on: the probability that this was the act of the Israeli Security Services and that the killers used forged British and EU passports to enter Dubai. The passports issue has played out over the ...

  • The Pain of the Holy Land

    I was recently part of a very creative planning group for this year’s World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, which is an initiative of the World Council of Churches. From 29th May to 4th June 2010, churches all over the world will be praying and running events to highlight the need for a ...

  • What does “Made in Israel” mean?

    When I am looking for exciting and interesting politics I tend not to immediately look through German Customs Tax Law, but last Thursday I had cause to reconsider. In an important ruling by the European Court the German exchequer managed to retrieve 20,000 Euros it has been owed by Brita GmbH. It gets more interesting ...

  • Prayer and fasting for Fiji

    On Tuesday this week we had a visit from Aquila Yabaki, Chief Executive of the Fijian Citizens Constitutional Forum. I last met Aquila in Fiji on a visit there in 2006 and was impressed with the work of the Citizens Constitutional Forum. It advocates for good governance and human rights. It promotes the principle of equal ...