Pope to see Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan

On the first leg of his three-day Mideast trip, Pope Francis will get a firsthand look at the plight of Syrian refugees and witness the toll the civil war next door is taking on Jordan.
By HT Correspondent | AP, Amman
UPDATED ON MAY 24, 2014 11:01 AM IST

On the first leg of his three-day Mideast trip, Pope Francis will get a firsthand look at the plight of Syrian refugees and witness the toll the civil war next door is taking on Jordan.

Francis frequently has lamented the plight of refugees, denouncing the "globalisation of indifference" that often greets them in their newly adopted homelands. At the same time, he and his predecessors have decried the flight of Christians from the Holy Land, insisting recently: "We will not be resigned to think about the Middle East without Christians!"

After meeting with King Abdullah II and Queen Rania at the royal palace, Francis is due to celebrate Mass on Saturday in Amman's International Stadium. The Vatican expects some 25,000 people to attend, many of them Palestinian, Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Later, he will meet one-on-one with refugees and disabled children at a church in Bethany beyond the Jordan, which many believe is the traditional site of Jesus' baptism.

Christians make up about 5% of Syria's population, but assaults on predominantly Christian towns by rebels fighting against President Bashar Assad's rule have fueled fears among the country's religious minorities about the growing role of Islamic extremists in the revolt. Christians believe they are being targeted in part because of anti-Christian sentiment among Sunni Muslim extremists and partly as punishment for what is seen as their support for Assad.

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said Francis wants to offer comfort to all Christians who live in the region and encourage them to stay.

"These Christians are living stones, and without their presence, the Holy Land and its holy sites risk becoming a museum," Parolin told Vatican Television on the eve of the trip.

Jordan last month opened a third camp for Syrian refugees, a stark indication of the strains the civil war is creating for the country. The sprawling facility is designed to accommodate up to 130,000 people and potentially become the world's second-largest refugee camp. Jordan is hosting 600,000 registered Syrian refugees, or 10% of its population. Jordanian officials estimate the real number is closer to 1.3 million.

For the Syrian Christians who will greet Francis, his presence is a chance to show the world their hopelessness as the conflict drags on.

"We are very happy because he will see Christians in the Arab world, he will see us and see our suffering," said Nazik Malko, a Syrian Orthodox Christian refugee from Maaloula who will be among the 600 or so people to greet the pope at Bethany beyond the Jordan. "We wish that peace will be restored in the whole world, and in Syria."

Another Orthodox Christian from Maaloula, Yacoub Josef, said he couldn't wait to leave.

"We wish that the situation in Syria would be better, but we hope to immigrate because we have had enough of being homeless," he said.

Francis will visit a Palestinian refugee camp on Sunday when he travels from Amman directly to the West Bank city of Bethlehem. It's the first time a pope has landed in the West Bank rather than Tel Aviv first, and Palestinian officials are eager to show Francis the limbo endured by generations of Palestinians forced or driven out in the war over Israel's 1948 creation. Today, along with their descendants, these refugees make up more than 5 million people scattered across the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Parolin, the Vatican No 2, said Francis would emphasize the Vatican's longstanding position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: "The right of Israel to exist and enjoy peace and security inside its internationally recognized borders, and the right of the Palestinian people to have a sovereign, independent homeland, freedom of movement and the right to live in dignity."

Technically, the main reason for the trip is for Francis and the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic meeting in Jerusalem by their predecessors which ended 900 years of Catholic-Orthodox estrangement. That highlight will come on Sunday, when Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I preside over a joint prayer service in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

Representatives of other churches also will be present, including Cardinal Bechara Rai, the first leader of Lebanon's largest Christian sect, the Maronite Catholic Church, to visit Jerusalem since Israel captured the city's eastern sector. Lebanon bans its citizens from visiting Israel or having business dealings with Israelis.

Underscoring the sensitive political nature of the trip, Rai's plans to visit Israel have drawn criticism. He angrily walked out of an interview with France 24 on Friday while in Amman, after the reporter pressed him on the motives for his visit.

"I don't come to the Holy Land for political, economic or military goals... Jerusalem is our city and we are in the Holy Land since hundreds of years, we cannot leave our land and our people," he said.

Francis will spend Monday in Jerusalem, visiting the grand mufti of Jerusalem and Israel's chief rabbis, albeit separately. He'll also pray at the Western Wall and visit the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem and will become the first pope to lay a wreath of flowers on Mount Herzl, named for the founder of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl. He returns to the Vatican on Monday night.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
The Capitol Police cited a spike in threats against lawmakers during the first two months of this year in the request for continued support from the Guard.(AP)
The Capitol Police cited a spike in threats against lawmakers during the first two months of this year in the request for continued support from the Guard.(AP)

Threats to lawmakers spur request for more National Guard help

Posted by Prashasti Singh | Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 06:30 AM IST
About 5,000 National Guard troops still on deployment in Washington since the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol were set to return home by March 12.
Close
US President Donald Trump.(Reuters File Photo )
US President Donald Trump.(Reuters File Photo )

Capitol riot: Trump can return to YouTube after 'risk of violence' falls

AFP, San Francisco
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 06:30 AM IST
  • YouTube in late January suspended Trump's channel, joining other social media platforms in banning his accounts following the deadly January 6 Capitol riot.
Close
The police officer was arrested for capital murder(REUTERS Photo)
The police officer was arrested for capital murder(REUTERS Photo)

Dallas police officer charged with arranging 2 killings

Posted by Prashasti Singh | AP, Dallas
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 06:28 AM IST
Bryan Riser, a 13-year veteran of the force, was arrested Thursday morning and taken to the Dallas County Jail for processing, according to a statement from the police department.
Close
Healthcare workers wait in line to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The Canadian minister in charge of vaccines said it�s "highly likely" the government will be able to move up its target date for inoculating every citizen who wants a Covid-19 shot. Photographer: Jennifer Gauthier/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)
Healthcare workers wait in line to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The Canadian minister in charge of vaccines said it�s "highly likely" the government will be able to move up its target date for inoculating every citizen who wants a Covid-19 shot. Photographer: Jennifer Gauthier/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)

WHO investigators plan to scrap interim report of Covid-19 origin probe: Report

Reuters
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 06:24 AM IST
No further information was immediately available about the reasons for the delay in publishing the findings of the WHO-led mission to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first human cases of Covid-19 were detected in late 2019.
Close
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis(AP)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis(AP)

Florida governor under scrutiny after Covid-19 vaccine favoritism charges grow

AP, Miami
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 06:03 AM IST
The revelations were the latest example of wealthy Floridians getting earlier access to coronavirus vaccines, even as the state has lagged in efforts to get poorer residents vaccinated.
Close
“Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the moderate New Democrat Coalition.(AP)
“Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the moderate New Democrat Coalition.(AP)

House OKs George Floyd Act as Democrats avoid 'defund' clash

Posted by Prashasti Singh | AP, Washington
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 05:50 AM IST
Approved 220-212 late Wednesday, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is named for the man whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked demonstrations nationwide.
Close
Traffic slowly works up to high ground in Whangarei, New Zealand, as a tsunami warning is issued Friday, March 5, 2021. A powerful magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck in the ocean off the coast of New Zealand prompting thousands of people to evacuate and triggering tsunami warnings across the South Pacific.(AP)
Traffic slowly works up to high ground in Whangarei, New Zealand, as a tsunami warning is issued Friday, March 5, 2021. A powerful magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck in the ocean off the coast of New Zealand prompting thousands of people to evacuate and triggering tsunami warnings across the South Pacific.(AP)

Mass evacuations as large quakes spark Pacific-wide tsunami alert

Posted by Prashasti Singh | AFP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 05:45 AM IST
Warning sirens sounded across Noumea as authorities ordered evacuations amid fears that waves of up three metres (10 feet) were headed towards the French territory.
Close
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan appeared to indicate there was a possibility he could lose the crucial vote.(REUTERS)
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan appeared to indicate there was a possibility he could lose the crucial vote.(REUTERS)

Ready to sit in Oppn: Pak PM before key vote

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:56 AM IST
  • The opposition currently has 53 seats in the 100-member Senate, while Khan’s ruling alliance has 47 seats.
Close
US National Guard soldiers guard the grounds of the US Capitol from behind a security fence in Washington, DC, on January 9, 2021. - US Democrats on January 9 were readying for an unprecedented second impeachment of Donald Trump as the defiant US President showed no signs of stepping down after the deadly violence at the Capitol on January 6. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP)(AFP)
US National Guard soldiers guard the grounds of the US Capitol from behind a security fence in Washington, DC, on January 9, 2021. - US Democrats on January 9 were readying for an unprecedented second impeachment of Donald Trump as the defiant US President showed no signs of stepping down after the deadly violence at the Capitol on January 6. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP)(AFP)

US Capitol: Law enforcement on alert after warning of likely breach

AP, Washington
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:49 AM IST
  • The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that former president Trump will rise again to power on March 4 and that thousands will come to Washington, DC, to try to remove Democrats from office.
Close
The comments come after the deadliest day of protests in Myanmar, with at least 38 dead on Wednesday in rallies where security forces were seen firing into crowds.(REUTERS)
The comments come after the deadliest day of protests in Myanmar, with at least 38 dead on Wednesday in rallies where security forces were seen firing into crowds.(REUTERS)

UN tells military: Stop murdering protesters

Agencies
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:45 AM IST
  • At least 700 people were detained on Wednesday alone, with many of them reportedly swept up as forces conducted door-to-door searches.
Close
The US pivot to Asia — in response to and as an acknowledgement of China as a growing threat — started under Barack Obama, and then gathered steam on Donald Trump’s watch with the renaming of the US military’s Pacific Command as the Indo-Pacific Command.(Bloomberg)
The US pivot to Asia — in response to and as an acknowledgement of China as a growing threat — started under Barack Obama, and then gathered steam on Donald Trump’s watch with the renaming of the US military’s Pacific Command as the Indo-Pacific Command.(Bloomberg)

Joe Biden pledges deeper ties in Indo-Pacific in national security plan

By Yashwant Raj
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:42 AM IST
  • It has been taken to a different level by the Biden administration, accorded the same significance as Europe, which has dominated US diplomatic and military thinking and spending for more than a century now, starting with World War I.
Close
The number of new coronavirus cases has risen in Europe after six weeks of decline, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.(AP)
The number of new coronavirus cases has risen in Europe after six weeks of decline, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.(AP)

EU reviews Russia’s jab amid fresh spike

Agencies, Moscow
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:36 AM IST
  • The regulator said the review is based on results from research in adults, which suggests the vaccine may help protect against the coronavirus.
Close
In January, the European Commission introduced legislation which allows curbs on exports of coronavirus vaccines if drugmakers fail to meet delivery targets within the bloc.(REUTERS)
In January, the European Commission introduced legislation which allows curbs on exports of coronavirus vaccines if drugmakers fail to meet delivery targets within the bloc.(REUTERS)

Italy blocks Astra Covid vaccine export, risks backlash against EU

Posted by Harshit Sabarwal | Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 11:03 PM IST
The decision comes after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called during an EU summit last week for a tougher approach against companies that don’t respect their delivery commitments.
Close
Diana’s brother. Charles Spencer, has alleged that Bashir used false documents, including fake bank statements, and other dishonest tactics to convince Diana to agree to the interview.(AP)
Diana’s brother. Charles Spencer, has alleged that Bashir used false documents, including fake bank statements, and other dishonest tactics to convince Diana to agree to the interview.(AP)

UK police won't probe journalist over 1995 Princess Diana interview

Posted by Harshit Sabarwal | AP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 11:00 PM IST
The Metropolitan Police force said “no further action will be taken” over allegations journalist Martin Bashir used illegal subterfuge to get the interview.
Close
The company is planning to start building the hotel, Voyager Station, in the low Earth orbit in 2025.(Orbital Assembly Corporation)
The company is planning to start building the hotel, Voyager Station, in the low Earth orbit in 2025.(Orbital Assembly Corporation)

World’s first space hotel with artificial gravity expected to open in 2027

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 10:43 PM IST
  • With over 11,600 square metres of habitable space, the commercial station will have many features expected in a cruise ship.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP