In midst of refugee hardship, there is kindness and laughter

Originally posted on CNS Blog:

Editor’s Note: The author is international editor at Catholic News Service and is on a reporting trip to the Middle East sponsored by Catholic Relief Services.

AMMAN, Jordan – The stories sound so much alike one might think they were rehearsed, except for the pain in the refugees’ eyes.

Syrian refugee children attend church-backed preschool program in Jordan. (CNS/Barb Fraze)

Syrian refugee children attend church-backed preschool program in Jordan. (CNS/Barb Fraze)

The Iraqis left Mosul and surrounding villages with only the clothes on their back after receiving ultimatums from Islamic State fighters. Eventually, they all camped out in Irbil, Iraq, before making their way to Jordan.

The Syrians never ever dreamed they would be forced to leave their homes. Many were taken by bus to the border of Jordan and had to cross over at night.

After editing story after story from the Middle East, there is something very humbling about looking into a person’s eyes and seeing pain and despair…

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IMMIGRATION: I am opposed to the use of family detention

Originally posted on PAX CHRISTI USA:

childrenattheborderbutton-smallPax Christi USA has signed onto this letter and encourages all of our members to take action also.

Dear President Obama,

As a Catholic, I am opposed to the use of family detention.  Detaining women and children who are fleeing persecution and violence demeans the God-given human dignity of these vulnerable people.

Many of the women and children confined at new detention facilities in New Mexico and Texas are survivors of domestic and targeted community violence.  These young women and their children have endured trauma and abuse in their home countries in Central America and also have experienced abuse along their migration journey.  They are coming to the United States for protection from violence and have been subsequently detained by our government. Alternatives to detention, like community-based models and case management, are effective at ensuring compliance with immigration court proceedings.  As a person of faith and a voter, I urge…

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AFGHANISTAN: International Day of Nonviolence in Afghanistan

Originally posted on PAX CHRISTI USA:

Dr_Hakimby Dr. Hakim

Kabul–“I woke up with the blast of another bomb explosion this morning,” Imadullah told me. “I wonder how many people were killed.” Imadullah, an 18 year old Afghan Peace Volunteer (APV) from Badakhshan, had joined me at the APVs’ Borderfree Community Centre of Nonviolence.

The news reported that at least three Afghan National Army soldiers were killed in the suicide bomb attack, in the area of Darulaman. Coincidentally, the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs) had planned to be at the Darulaman Palace that same morning.  To commemorate Gandhi’s birthday and the International Day of Nonviolence, we wanted to form a human circle of peace at the Palace, which is a war ruin.  But the police, citing general security concerns, had denied us permission.

Imadullah and Rauff, another APV member, continued discussing the attack. Rauff believes that the latest string of suicide bombings in Kabul have been…

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Friar, parishioners taken captive in Syria