Compassion International faces eviction from India
(WNS)–Compassion International, a Christian nongovernmental organization that aids 145,000 impoverished Indian children, has three weeks left in the country unless officials give it a reprieve. “We’ve simply run out of funds,” Stephen Oakley, the group’s senior vice president and general counsel, told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Dec 6. Compassion employs 6,000 workers in India who provide aid to children living in extreme poverty. It has worked in India since 1968 and is the largest humanitarian presence in the second most populated country in the world—providing $50 million in annual relief funds. But India is cracking down on foreign NGOs based on fears that groups are using humanitarian work to mask evangelization efforts. Those fears have prompted the government to block the inflow of relief dollars. So far, Indian officials have ignored pleas from U.S. lawmakers.
Nigeria says it has rescued hundreds of Boko Haram captives
(WNS)–The Nigerian army on Dec. 14 said it rescued more than 600 women and children in a two-week crackdown on Boko Haram’s stronghold in northeast Nigeria. The rescue operation has not been verified. Maj. Gen. Leo Irabor, commander of the operation, said in a news conference the troops rescued 69 men, 180 women, 227 boys, and, 129 girls between Dec. 7 and 14 from Sambisa forest. The forest, in Nigeria’s Borno state, is known widely as Boko Haram’s enclave and the location of many of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in April 2014. The army has not said whether any Chibok girls were among the rescued.
African conflicts displaced more than 2 million people in 2015
(WNS)–Violence and conflict across Africa displaced 2.4 million people in 2015, according to a report released by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC). The report estimates even larger numbers of internally displaced people in 2016. Last year’s figures brought the total number of people living in displacement camps to 12.4 million. Africa’s internally displaced population is more than double the number of refugees, or people who flee their home countries, which the UN estimates as 5.4 million people. “Each of these numbers represents a personal tragedy and presents a challenge for local, national, and international responders,” the report said. Nigeria accounted for more than 30 percent of the figures. As many as 736,000 people fled their homes in 2015, the majority because of Boko Haram’s insurgency. The Islamic extremist group staged multiple attacks in northeastern Nigeria and other neighboring countries.
Ontario turns parenting into a group affair
(WNS)–Children in Ontario, Canada, may now have up to four legal parents, none of which must be birth parents, under a bill passed by the legislature on Nov. 29. Under the All Families are Equal Act, same-sex couples or a group of up to four adults who agree to have a child, whether through a surrogate mother or artificial insemination, will be legally viewed as parents without any adoption process. They simply must sign a contract to co-parent before the child is conceived. The bill also changes existing code in the Children’s Law Reform Act and the Vital Statistics Act to “use gender-neutral terminology, where possible,” according to the attorney general’s office.
Israeli noise pollution bill stirs claims of Islamophobia
(WNS)–The latest flashpoint between Israeli Jews and their Arab neighbors highlights the extent to which the conflict between them touches every aspect of daily life. In November, Israeli lawmakers proposed a bill that would require all houses of worship to lower the volume of their public address systems. While the vaguely worded proposal made no outright accusation, the bill’s sponsor, a lawmaker from a nationalist Jewish religious party, admitted the legislation is aimed at Muslim mosque loudspeakers. Dubbed the “Muezzin Law,” after the man in the minaret who chants the call to prayer, the bill has grabbed international headlines and sparked an uproar among the country’s Muslim minority.