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Deaths of key women in hard places

Kurdish humanitarian dies of COVID-19

Nemam Ghafouri Facebook

Deaths of key women in hard places


Iraq: Nemam Ghafouri survived Saddam Hussein’s bombs and escaped to Sweden with her Kurdish family, but she returned 35 years later as a distinguished doctor to help victims of Islamic State (ISIS), particularly Yazidi women. The New York Times profiled her work recently, and she was a light and a help to countless groups, including Christians—and to me. She died in Sweden after weeks of fighting COVID-19, which she contracted as she worked between Syria and Iraq. Iran: Indirect talks between Iran and the United States are underway this week in Vienna, aimed at restarting the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran nuclear deal. Iran is looking for sanctions relief to call off its escalation in nuclear enrichment. Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a go-ahead to form another governing coalition, while his battle to hold onto power has him reaching out to the country’s Aramean Christians and its Arab leaders. Turkey: German pastor Michael Feulner is fighting expulsion from Turkey, hoping to stall a wave of foreign Christian leaders expelled from the country as “threats to national security.”


China: Similar to reeducation camps housing Uighurs, China also has “transformation” camps used to brainwash detained members of Christian house churches. Separately, the government announced a plan to crack down on five organizations it deems illegal—including house churches. Myanmar: Violence continues as protesters confront the military junta, which retook the country in a February coup. The army has penetrated Karen state with reinforcements and bulldozers, Free Burma Rangers reports, clearing roads into the remote area and clashing with the Karen National Liberation Army, which has battled the military junta to protect ethnic Karen people, who are mostly Christians. In Yangon, one student leader told Karen groups: “Please forgive us for not helping the ethnics all those years when they were under attack. Now we know what it is like to be attacked and we want forgiveness and to work together.” In Kachin state, the military searched churches, claiming they were sheltering a protest leader. Philippines: The world’s deepest shipwreck dive has reached the USS Johnston, a U.S. Navy destroyer sunk while battling to free the islands during World War II. Indonesia: Cyclone Seroja hit a cluster of islands in southeastern Indonesia and East Timor, killing at least 113 people, with many still unaccounted for and thousands displaced.


Mali: The remains of Swiss missionary Béatrice Stöckli have been positively identified through DNA samples. An al-Qaeda-linked group kidnapped her in 2016, and she was reported killed last October. Vaccines: Sudan, Mali, Liberia, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Namibia received shipments of COVID-19 vaccines at least a month ago but have administered zero doses. CARE and other aid groups say COVAX and other plans to distribute the vaccine in low-income countries have neglected the importance of investments in vaccine delivery and rollout where infrastructure and adequate health facilities are lacking.

I’M EXPERIMENTING with the Globe Trot format and appreciate your feedback. I’ll be traveling to The Gospel Coalition women’s conference this week and speaking about this news business. Say hi if you’re there. And for it I’m reading Steadfast by Courtney Doctor.

Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine’s first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run From ISIS With Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C.



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