Pope Francis has called on world powers to take action and help migrants who are fleeing violence and seeking refuge in Europe and the U.K. The pontiff made his call to action as part of a speech in which he condemned governments that refuse to accept the refugees into their countries and provide them with assistance and shelter, saying their actions are nothing short of a "crime."
Francis spoke out about the refugee crisis to members of the Eucharistic Youth Movement on the island of Lampedusa in southern Italy earlier this month, after 200 dead bodies were found near a capsized boat close by, as reported by the Gazzetta del Sud.
The pope also called on residents to remember the mostly Muslim Rohingya refugees as "brothers" from Myanmar and Bangladesh who have been refused entry in to Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia as well as the 170,000 that reached Italy by ship last year, as recorded by the International Organization for Migration data. more >>
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi repeatedly sexually assaulted American humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller before she died earlier this year in captivity in Syria, according to the victim's family. She got a chance to escape along with two Yazidi girls but she refused to join them lest her foreign appearance put them in danger, one of the girls has said.
"We were told Kayla was tortured, that she was the property of al-Baghdadi," Kayla's parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, told ABC News on Friday, the day she would have turned 27.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi personally brought Mueller, who was captured in Sinjar, Iraq, last August, to the home of Abu Sayyaf, a Tunisian in charge of oil and gas revenue for IS, Al-Shadadiya. The top IS leader visited the home often to rape her. more >>
The Islamic State terror group has released 22 Assyrian Christians who were part of a group of over 200 believers kidnapped in February in raids on villages in the Khabur region in northeastern Syria.
The Assyrian Observatory for Human Rights has said the Christians were released due to "the tireless efforts and negotiations by the Assyrian Church of the East in the city of Hasakeh," and noted that there were 14 women among the hostages.
Hundreds of kidnapped Arab Christians have been ransomed, tortured, beheaded and killed over the past year, including a priest who was chopped into pieces, in attempts to raise funds for radical Islamic terror groups and to strike fear into the hearts of Christians across the Middle East and throughout the world.
"Christians have become a form [of] currency in this tragedy," John Newton told The Christian Post. Newton is spokesman for Catholic relief agency Aid to the Church in Need. "I know of one priest who was kidnapped for two months ... they asked for a ransom of $120,000, which the family managed to raise and deliver. ... But hours later, the priest was killed and his body cut up, with pieces of him sent in a box to the family."
The process of trying to free kidnapped priests poses a difficult challenge. In many cases, Christian organizations are left in the dark with little information on who the kidnappers are or where the victims are being held. more >>
A criminal gang in Pakistan located near the Indian border has forced nearly 300 children to engage in sexual acts in what authorities have discovered is the largest child pornography ring in the nation's history. Islamic scholars are now calling for the perpetrators to be put to death.
The chief minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif, requested on Sunday that the Lahore High Court investigate a gang of child pornographers in Kasur, which supposedly produced at least 400 videos featuring 280 children who were forced into sex, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper first reported.
A top child protection official in the province has labeled the case "the largest-ever child-abuse scandal in Pakistan's history" and assured that those responsible will be punished vigorously. more >>
ERBIL, Iraq — Thousands of displaced Arab refugees, including a large number of Christians and Yazidis, are continuing to flee Iraq following the Islamic State's mass execution of around 2,000 Iraqis in the city of Nineveh — followed by a series of car bombs in Baghdad on Monday — resulting in dozens of causalities, according to Reuters.
It's been one year since the Islamic State began its reign of terror in the Sinjar and Tal Afar districts of northern Iraq's Nineveh Province, which has included a hate-fueled campaign to wipe out Christians and Yazidis as well as other religious communities.
"Islamic State has unleashed untold misery and suffering on defenseless religious and ethnic communities, while destroying treasured religious and historical sites in both Iraq and Syria," said Robert P. George, chairman of the U.S.Commission on International Religious Freedom, last week. "Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, and others are all at risk. Due to IS's reign of terror, millions of people from Iraq and Syria have been forced to flee and now are refugees or internally displaced." more >>