Thursday, March 29, 2012

Report from Dr Khataza of CSW on Nigeria

This was written before the bombing of the COCIN HQ Church in Jos.

March 2011 For Public Use

1. Preliminary Report

Kano State

Nigeria Assignment 10-21 February

The joint Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) UK and Nigeria team was informed that while the media reported that around 185 people were killed during the massive attack on Kano City in January by Boko Haram, in reality the death toll could easily amount to 500. CSW learned that during the attack on the police barracks, while the police force was defending a frontal attack, Boko Haram cadres had broken in at the back of the facility, and with the assistance of a person who knew it well, were going from house to house targeting and killing Christian men and boys aged 18 and over. What is particularly worrying is that in this and other instances, Boko Haram clearly out gunned the police due to the standard of weaponry they possess; in some instances this has included rocket propelled grenades. At the time of the CSW visit, there was still a 6pm-6am curfew in Kano, and the sense of fear amongst the Christian community there was overwhelming. There had been no church services for two weeks after the onslaught, due to the overwhelming fear of renewed attack. CSW was also informed that people now park within 10 metres of churches. All are searched upon entering and no bags, including women’s handbags, are allowed into many church premises. In addition to this, the team was informed that most Igbo traders, who hail originally from Eastern Nigeria, had moved their families away, with only the men remaining, some of whom were seeking to leave the area. The economic impact on Kano State has been considerable.

However, Christians expressed reassurance at the fact that the present Governor of Kano, who has disbanded the hisbah force created by his predecessor, is clearly far less sympathetic to extremist views than his predecessor was. The Governor has publicly acknowledged that Christian victims of the January attacks outnumbered the Muslim ones, and is disbursing

compensation accordingly.

“When you destabiliseKano, which is the commercial nerve center of the North, you are threatening the socio-economicwell-being of the North”.

http://dailytimes.com.ng/article/kano-governor-confirms-more-christians-victims-boko-haram-attacks


2 Kaduna State

This state is a prime target for Boko Haram for two reasons. Firstly, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, a Christian won the gubernatorial elections. He, his wife and family are now key targets. Secondly in Southern Kaduna there is a Christian majority where youths fought back hard against the April 2011 violence, which was supposedly electoral, but was also immediately religious. Boko Haram has issued a statement indicating that this area was one of its key targets. Security is tight, however, nothing can be guaranteed. The week before the CSW arrival, Boko Haram had bombed a military barracks where a key member had been detained after being discovered in Kaduna. Fortunately, and despite the fact that the blast knocked some people from the second floor to the ground floor, only the suicide bomber was killed. CSW interviewed a survivor of the blast who is still hospitalised, and who described his ordeal when a suicide bomber in military attire, and his similarly dressed accomplice, struck just as he was checking in at the reception to visit the head of the barracks on a personal matter: “the last thing I remember ... I saw myself in the air and that was all. The victim had glass embedded in his left side, burns to his right forearm and wrist, and lost his front teeth, but came out alive: “how I escaped was a miracle, it is God and nothing else”.

The team visited the Buruku area, where churches, vicarages and parts of a Baptist primary school that benefited the entire community had been destroyed during the April 2011 violence. The violence allegedly broke out for electoral reasons, yet Christians, Christian symbols and Christian communities were immediate targets. A Muslim teacher at the school–where most of the students were in fact Muslim said: “I feel bad about what happened. It was just religious.” In an area called Tudun Wada in Kaduna City, every church, bar two, had either been burnt down or driven out. The church was visited by the team belonging to the Evangelical Church Winning ALL (ECWA), and is always a target during religion-related tension. During the April violence, the church was attacked for the fourth time. The attackers carried away whatever could be looted from the church offices and board room. Furthermore, they set the church pews in the church building on fire, destroying the roof. The congregation had just managed to renovate it, but was still using plastic chairs during meetings. Despite the dangers, the Sunday service was packed. Other churches have not been so fortunate. CSW also received a thorough briefing on the substantial losses sustained by ECWA in what was described as a “massive attack” on the central District Church Council (DCC – equivalent to a parish) during the 2011 violence. Most churches are yet to recover, with several congregations still worshiping in the open air.


Yobe State

Although Boko Haram had a headquarters in Maiduguri, this is the state where the movement was born, where it undertook its first actions in 2003 and where it is currently most effectively conducting a campaign of religious cleansing. A January 2012, a CSW briefing highlighted the fact that indigenous Christians are currently fleeing their ancestral homes in Yobe and Borno States for the relative safety of Jos, Adamawa and elsewhere as Boko Haram undertakes house-to-house or stalking executions in these areas. Unfortunately, the response by the Governor of Yobe State to the violence meted out against Christians has been extremely disappointing. Despite constant attacks and the destruction of churches, homes and lives, Christians from Yobe have categorically stated that neither the Governor, nor the Deputy Governor, nor the local Emir has visited victims or condoled or compensated them in any way. When Christian leaders attempted to visit the Emir to request assistance, he allegedly refused to see them, even when they turned up at his palace. CSW was also informed that during one Boko Haram attack, key officials were conveniently out of contact, and consequently, no order could be issued to enable security units to counter the killing. If true, such behavior is either due to complicity or fear given the fact that Boko Haram has openly threatened traditional rulers and officials. Whatever the rationale, the end esult is that effective action to protect has not and is not being taken, and Christians who remain in the area are extremely vulnerable, especially since Boko Haram is currently reported to be stalking and killing police officers, officials and Christians with prospects one by one. As one person informed us: “if government doesn’t bring these people to book they will eliminate all of the Christians”. For a recent example of this phenomenon, see “Nigerian gunmen kill customs boss in Yobe State”,

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17286020


Gombe State

In Gombe the team met victims of the 5 January shootings at the Deeper life Church in Gombe City, during which ten people died, including the pastor’s wife, when Boko Haram gunmen attacked a powerful prayer meeting. At the end of the meeting one of the victims, who lost a son during the shooting and had just left hospital himself, received a call from his daughter Rachael, who he had sent to the bank earlier that day, stating: “help me pray my final prayer, I don’t know where I am”. Such disappearances of Christian girls are allegedly a common occurrence. For two days there was no news of her whereabouts, with speculation mounting that she had either been attacked and robbed, was in the hands of ritualists ,who would kill and dismember her for their own purposes, or had been abducted for forcible marriage and conversion. On the evening of 20 February, Rachael was found

in a terrible state. She was unable to speak and was hospitalised pending recovery. At time of writing, CSW is awaiting news of what actually happened to her.

While in Gombe, the team also visited a Christian official of the victorious political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Honourable Jack Gumpy, now a broken man on medication and dialysis after 10 family members, including children, grandchildren, were murdered and burnt to ashes in his official residence during the electoral violence of 2011. The atmosphere in Gombe State was noticeably tense, thus it was not surprising to learn of a Boko Haram’s attack during the following week.4 Fortunately Gombe’s current governor was more sympathetic to the fears of the Christian community than his predecessor, who failed to prosecute those responsible for the brutal murder of Christian school teacher, Christianah Oluwatoyin Oluwasesin. “Boko Haram kills seven in Gombe”, The Nation http://www.thenationonlineng.net/2011/index.php/news/39167- boko-haram-kills-seven-in-gombe.html

5 http://dynamic.csw.org.uk/article.asp?t=news&id=637


Bauchi State

Since January 2010, there have been 23 attacks on Christian villages in the indigenous Christian area of Tafawa Balewa by armed Hausa Fulani Muslims. The Governor of Bauchi has done little to protect these villages, and is even alleged to be openly sympathetic to the aims and objectives of the attackers. At one stage the Governor is alleged to have stated publicly that he would turn Tafawa Balewa into a grazing area for the Fulani tribe. The state government has also forcibly closed schools in Bogoro (another largely Christian area) and Tafawa Balewa, ostensibly for renovation, and is illegally shifting the Local Government Area (LGA) headquarters to an area called Bununu, from which Christians were expelled in 1991 and which is too dangerous for them to approach. The consequence of this is that no Christian will be employed at the headquarters representing their area: “if you approach (Bununu) they will kill you... Their target is to frustrate us, to destroy all we have”. The legality of the motion to relocate the LGA is in question, as it was proposed by a representative who was not from Tafawa Balewa which in itself was illegal. When a Christian female representative from Bogoro raised an objection to this procedural irregularity, she was allegedly bullied into making a public apology.

The swift decision to remove the LGA headquarters was justified on the grounds that “the local people are troublesome” and followed an alleged armed robbery on a local bank where no bullet was fired or found in the vicinity, a marked contrast to what was widely broadcast by the media. Yet these same “troublesome” people have been under attack since 2010; they have not retaliated, despite the fact that no action has been taken to defend them. As one interviewee pointed out: “if we are troublesome, what do you call those who are attacking us”? CSW was informed that a bank account has now been opened for contributions towards a legal challenge to the move.

CSW also heard of the difficulties faced by Christian children in accessing education. CSW was also informed that between 2010 and 2011, in the Azare area, Christian children have been regularly kidnapped and girls “Islamicised”, although a few admittedly converted in order to receive gifts and money.

Post election violence affected thirteen of Bauchi’s 20 LGAs. The team was informed that very few churches were left standing or untouched, especially in the northern part of Bauchi State. In Azare, during the April violence, fifteen churches were destroyed along with many homes. In Itas LGA, five churches were burnt and demolished to their very foundations, homes were looted, and two women were killed. Worse still, as the violence raged, when pastors in Itas tried to contact the DPO, they discovered his mobile was switched off.


Katsina State

Many areas have yet to recover from the April 2011 electoral violence and seem unlikely to receive justice for their losses. In Malumfashi, Katsina, where at least 23 churches were burnt down, the ECWA medical mission, which CSW had visited a few years ago, was thoroughly looted and its dispensary, church, secretariat and staff residence reduced to rubble by a crowd that was thousands strong with almajeris (Quranic students), who were aged between 6 and 20, making up 95% of the mob. The crowd was largely chanting “CPC” (Congress for Progressive Change the unsuccessful political party of former general, Buhari) and “Change” as they attacked. However, Christian symbols were targeted along with political offices and homes of PDP stalwarts, and in Malumfashi, a pastor informed and his wife were asked to renounce their faith. His wife managed to escape as they began to beat him. After putting put a tyre around his him and calling for fuel, the crowd became distracted. They eventually left the pastor alive but burnt down his house and church.

In Funtua, Katsina State, survivors of the April violence continue to live under threat. The April attacks were described as coordinated, and took place in the presence of security operatives, who were reportedly positively acknowledging those shouting for change. For example, a Baptist Church on the Zaria Road was burnt down despite its close proximity to a police station. Some Christians who were in hiding while the violence was underway heard attackers telephoning others making such statements as: “we’ve finished what we had to do here, what about you, how are you doing?” Last year, CSW had heard of similar telephone conversations when interviewing victims of the April violence in northern Kaduna. They serve as a clear indication that the violence was far from spontaneous and was highly organized. In other instances, when women were about to be raped, some of the attackers would stop it by saying “those were not our orders”. Survivors in Malumfashi andFuntuatestifiedtooverhearingsimilarconversations. It would appear that perpetrators received orders to loot extensively before embarking on destruction. For example, a survivor of the attack on the Malumfashi dispensary site informed CSW that when one of the assailants suggested they kill some Christian men as a “sacrifice”, another refused: “we were only asked to burn and loot, not kill”. In Funtua, where around 11 people died, including three members of the same family who were deliberately burned to death in their homes, survivors informed CSW that since the violence local Muslims constantly make such comments as: “why are you still here”, “we don’t want you here”,

and “leave our land”. Those who try to rebuild their shattered businesses continue to have them broken into and vandalized to this day. Many Christians said their security in Funtua was “not guaranteed”.

With regard to official reactions to the April 2011 violence, a pastor from Malumfashi stated that when he was eventually able to contact the DPO late that evening, the officer was “proud and arrogant as if it was no concern of his”. Another in Funtua said he had been informed by a junior officer that the violence could have been contained, and that the officer had asked the local Divisional Police Officer (DPO) for permission to use teargas to disperse a crowd that had gathered during the initial stages of the violence, but had been refused. Tellingly, while the Governor of Katsina State is reported in the press to have donated at least N20 Million to victims of January’s Kano bomb blasts and violence,6 victims of the April 2011 violence in Katsina have yet to receive any form of compensation. In fact, few in Nigeria are aware of the destruction in Malumfashi, because there were no media broadcasts of the violence.

While in Katsina, CSW also visited Dusa Village in Kankiya LGA, which is being systematically marginalised because the inhabitants refuse to convert. The nearby Muslim village enjoys graded approach roads and at least three bore holes and water pumps. Upon leaving the Muslim village the approach roads to Dusa deteriorate markedly, particularly after passing the home of the only villager to convert to Islam. It was reported that upon his conversion, the Governor’s wife at the time

visited the area, threw a party for the man, and a house and small school were constructed for him a few yards away from the village as an illustration of the benefits of conversion.

The people of Dusa have no access to water. Primary schools are 4km away and are unreachable during rainy season the team traversed a dry riverbed to reach the village. When they complained to local authorities of a lack of water in the village they were told “Die of thirst. Who asked you to become Christians?” On another occasion they were told that if they were given a water pump “the people there would be lifted up, and how can you expect us to lift up infidels?” In the event that their children overcome all obstacles and manage to complete primary school, they are systematically deprived of further education, and any secondary schools they can access are 8-10km away. Such discrimination appears to occur throughout Katsina State, and CSW has encountered similar discrimination over many years in many other states, including Kano, Bauchi and Borno. Non- Muslims, and particularly Christians, cannot easily access employment, or once employed, cannot rise above a certain position. Moreover, with regard to employment, especially in federal agencies such as the police, army or navy, CSW was informed that in Katsina State, applicants with Christian names are removed from the list. Yet despite being offered all of these amenities in return for conversion, the villagers are still standing strong in their faith.


Plateau State

At the time of the CSW visit, Plateau State was calm but on alert. This state is another prime target for Boko Haram the organisation identified it as such in the same broadcast where it threatened Southern Kaduna. Christian leaders of the youths of their respective tribes that are indigenous to Plateau State briefed the team on the ongoing crisis. Note that the visit occurred prior to the bombing of the COCIN headquarters church. With regard to Boko Haram and the general violence, another concluded that the key to ending the crisis is the end to the almajeri system, as almajeris generally function as “guns for hire” during episodes of violence.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

SECOND CHURCH IN CENTRAL NIGERIAN CITY BOMBED IN TWO WEEKS

A second church in the central Nigerian city of Jos has been hit in a suicide bombing in the space of two weeks; at least ten people were killed in the blast and violent aftermath.Country: Africa, Nigeria

Regina-David-Dung_4X3.jpg
Regina David Dung
was killed in the attack
Image source: Stefanos foundation

The attack at St Finbarr’s Church happened on Sunday (11 March) at around 10.40am, ten minutes into the second service of the morning. It comes just two weeks after four people were killed in a suicide bombing at the Church of Christ(COCIN) headquarters in Jos, Plateau State, on Sunday 26 February.

The bomb, which was in a car, was detonated just outside the gate of St Finbarr’s after the vehicle was prevented from driving into the church premises. The blast shook the building and caused the ceiling to fall in and the glass to shatter. Three women, one of whom was pregnant, were among those killed. Surrounding buildings were also damaged.

The Anglican Archbishop of Jos, the Rt Rev Benjamin Kwashi, said:

It is worrying that two bombs have gone off within the space of two weeks, and many are fearing a third. Most importantly, a palpable terror is being unleashed on Christians so that Sunday is transformed from a day of worship into a day of fear. We are appealing to the church worldwide to pray without ceasing, and to members of the international community to speak up and take action on our behalf so that we are able to enjoy full religious freedom and worship God freely and without fear.

Two men, one dressed in female clothing, approached the gate of St Finbarr’s in a car. A guard at the gate said he needed to check inside the vehicle’s boot, but they refused to open it and detonated the explosives there.

SHOOTINGS

In the aftermath of the blast, there were clashes involving the security forces and youths, which left at least three more people dead.

And late on Sunday, gunmen ambushed Christians in Chugwi village, south of Jos, killing three and injuring another three. The victims included two brothers, aged 25 and 30. The attackers took their victims’ mobile phones and called the deceased’s relatives to claim responsibility for the murders.

Three other people at the nearby hamlet of Dogo Garba were injured by the same gunmen. The shootings are not thought to be linked to the church blast.

Plateau State is in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, between the Muslim-majority North and mainly Christian South. Christians and churches have frequently come under attack in Jos, the state capital.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned Sunday’s bombing and restated his government’s commitment “to end the spate of mindless attacks and killings”. He claimed that the authorities were “winning the war against the terrorists” but the unrelenting campaign of violence by militant Islamist group Boko Haram and the apparent inability of the security forces to prevent their attacks suggest otherwise.

Boko Haram has not claimed responsibility for this latest church bombing, but it comes just a week after a spokesman for the group declared “war” on Christians inNigeria and said that they were planning coordinated attacks to “eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country”.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

1903 church attendance in Ealing

This is from A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7: Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesde by T F T Baker, C R Elrington (Editors), Diane K Bolton, Patricia E C Croot, M A Hicks,1982

There were 10,289 worshippers at ten Anglican churches and their mission churches in 1903, when Ealing had one of the highest attendances in and around London. Ealing was still the 'most Sabbath-loving suburb in London' in 1926 (The Times, 26 Oct. 1929).

CHRIST THE SAVIOUR, Attendance 1903: 461 a.m.; 447 p.m.

ST. JAMES, Attendance 1903: 168 a.m.; 183 p.m.

ST. JOHN, Attendance 1903: 1,116 a.m.; 1,058 p.m.

ST. LUKE, Attendance 1903: 159 a.m.; 86 p.m

ST. MATTHEW, Attendance 1903: 638 a.m.; 253 p.m.

ST. PETER, Attendance 1903: 584 a.m.; 283 p.m.

ST. SAVIOUR, Attendance 1903: 1,397 a.m.; 1,131 p.m.

ST. STEPHEN, Attendance 1903: 570 a.m.; 303 p.m.

I make that 5213 a.m. in 8 places. St Mary and St Barnabas are not listed with attendees. 3444 are p.m. worshippers.

Ealing Quakers' attendance at Y.M.C.A. 1903: 14 a.m.

West Ealing, formerly Ealing Dean, Bapt. church Attendance 1903: 334 a.m.; 358

Haven Green Bapt. church, Attendance 1903: 576 a.m.; 862 p.m.

Ealing Green Cong. Attendance 1903: 386 a.m.; 235 p.m.

West Ealing Cong. no. 70 the Avenue Attendances 1903: 108 a.m. 88 p.m.

St. Andrew's Presb., Attendance 1903: 390 a.m.; 300 p.m.

Ealing Broadway Wes. Meth. Windsor Rd. Attendance 1903: 364 a.m.; 381 p.m.

West Ealing Primitive Meth. church, Uxbridge Rd.) Attendance 1903: 237 a.m.; 378 p.m.

Brethren, at no. 93 High St. Attendance 1903: 19 a.m.; 26 p.m.

Brethren met at Gospel hall (later Grove hall), on N. side of the Grove, Attendance 1903: 83 a.m.; 75 p.m.

Brethren met at Sunnyside Room, Disraeli Rd., Ealing 1903. Attendance 1903: 148 a.m.; 138 p.m.

Salvation Army. Attendance 1903: 55 a.m.; 166 p.m.

I make that 2721 a.m. and 3007 p.m.

Roman Catholic

St. Benedict's abbey, Attendance 1903: 328 a.m.; 94 p.m.

Mission of St. Joseph and St. Peter in private house in Windsor Rd., Attendance 1903: 65 a.m.; 43 p.m.

To put these figures in context, Ealing had 33,031 inhabitants in 1901, 61,222 in 1911 so in 1903 we can estimate the population as 40,000. 16547 was the total morning and evening church attendance, 46% of the population. Of course we do not know how many attended both morning and evening so the percentage is between 23 and 46%.



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Thursday, March 08, 2012

NIGERIA – Militants 'plan to kidnap Christian women'

A report has appeared on an Egyptian news website claiming that Islamist terrorists Boko Haram plan to kidnap Christian women in Nigeria in their move to drive Christians out of Muslim-majority areas.

The kidnap pledge follows a statement attributed to Boko Haram on March 4 threatening co-ordinated attacks 'to eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country'.

Bikyamasr.com quoted a Boko Haram spokesman as saying: 'We are going to put into action new efforts to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam by kidnapping their women... We will create so much effort to end the Christian presence in our push to have a proper Islamic state that Christians won't be able to stay.'

The reports have yet to be verified, but Christian sources in Nigeria have told us: 'Christians are no longer safe in the northern part of Nigeria. What began with the segregation and marginalisation of Christians… has now graduated into suicide and bombing of Christians worshippers with a clear intention of mass murder.'

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) called a press conference to warn of the potential 'disintegration of the country'. CAN President Pastor Ayodele Oritsejafor said Boko Haramintended to 'exterminate Christians from Nigeria'. He called for firm action by the federal Government, and for peaceful Muslims to stand against the militants.

According to reports, Boko Haram, which launched bomb attacks against Christians over Christmas, has claimed more than 1,000 lives since mid-2009, killing more than 300 so far this year.

(Sources: Bikyamasr.com, Vanguard, Channels, The Moment)

• Please pray for Christians in Nigeria, who are facing brutal persecution. Pray that they will trust strongly in the Lord and remain faithful in their witness.
• Pray for those who persecute them, that they, like Paul the Apostle, will have a revelation of Jesus Christ.
• Pray for the Christian Association of Nigeria – for strength, protection, wisdom, favour and influence.

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BOKO HARAM DECLARES “WAR” ON CHRISTIANS IN NIGERIA AND THREATENS TO ERADICATE THEM FROM PARTS OF THECOUNTRY

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram has declared “war” on Christians in Nigeria, saying that they are planning coordinated attacks to “eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country”.Country: Africa, Nigeria

A spokesman for the group, which has stepped up its violent campaign against Christians in the North since Christmas, said on Sunday (4 March):

We will create so much effort to end the Christian presence in our push to have a proper Islamic state that the Christians won’t be able to stay.

Church-of-Christ-in-Nigeria_Attacks2_4X3.jpg
The wreckage after a suicide bomber struck a church in Jos
Image source: Stefanos foundation

Boko Haram’s actions over recent months indicate that this is no idle threat.

Following a series of attacks on churches and other targets in five states over Christmas that left more than 40 people dead, the group on New Year’s Day issued athree-day deadline for Christians to leave the North. Unrelenting attacks have ensued, including the bombing of a number of churches as well as attacks on individual Christians.

Most recently, on 26 February, a suicide bomber drove a car into the grounds of the Church of Christ headquarters in Jos. The vehicle exploded three metres from the church building; two women and an 18-month-old child were killed, and around 50 people were injured.

The violence is having the intended effect of driving Christians from the North. Nearly 95 per cent of the Christians have left Yobe State, where 20 churches have been torched and many lives have been lost.

Some are heading to the mainly Christian South, while others are crossing the border into Cameroon. The mass migration is precipitating a major humanitarian and spiritual crisis in Nigeria; Northern Christians who have been forced to leave behind their homes and jobs are in great need, while, as the Christian presence diminishes, the Church is being wiped off the map in the North.

Boko Haram has killed around 1,000 people since 2009 in its bloody campaign to establish an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria. As well as attacking Christians, the group targets police, security forces and politicians, and also Muslim leaders who oppose its agenda. Over 300 people have been killed so far this year.

The government has been trying to curtail Boko Haram’s activities, deploying military units across the country, and arresting and killing a number of members in recent weeks. But, issuing the latest threat, the group’s spokesman said that the government “cannot be prepared for what is to come”.

PLEASE PRAY:
  • Thank God that the Nigerian authorities are trying to thwart Boko Haram’s agenda; pray that they will have the resources they need and use them effectively.
  • Pray that the Lord will protect His people in Northern Nigeria and give church leaders wisdom as they seek to advise and care for their congregations.
  • Pray for all those who have been forced to flee their homes, that they will receive the practical and spiritual support that they need at this traumatic time.

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