Number of dead rises after hospital fire in Iraq
AT LEAST 92 people are reported to have died in a fire that ripped through a coronavirus ward at al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in Nasiriya, southern Iraq, on Monday night. More than 100 people were injured. Investigating authorities have said that the fire was caused by sparks from faulty wiring, which spread to an oxygen tank and caused an explosion. The President of Iraq, Barham Salih, blamed the “catastrophe” on “persistent corruption and mismanagement that undervalues the lives of Iraqis”. Pope Francis sent his condolences to the families by telegram to the Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq, Archbishop Mitja Leskovar.
New Mexico church clears $1.4-million medical debts
ST BEDE’s Episcopal Church, Santa Fe, in New Mexico, has helped to clear nearly $1.4 million in medical debts for 782 households in the area. The church worked with RIP Medical Debt, which identifies households that have an income lower than twice the poverty level or are insolvent, and owe medical debt. The organisation buys the debt at a fraction of face value and pays it off using donations. Here, a $15,000 grant from St Bede’s cleared $1,380,119.87 in medical debt for families that live in New Mexico and parts of Arizona. The Vicar, the Revd Catherine Volland, said: “I don’t know if this parish has ever funded a program with such a great impact. We were able to do it because every week we set aside ten per cent of donations to the church for outreach. Prioritising service to others is our gospel imperative.”
Kenyan interfaith conference speaks up for children
HALF the children in Kenya have experienced violence exacerbated by the pandemic, the Inter Faith Conference on Ending Violence Against Children, held last week, has heard. The National Crime Research Centre recorded a 205.6 per cent increase in cases of violations of children’s rights between 2017 and 2019. The conference was convened by the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, and World Vision Kenya. It was recommended that religious institutions in Kenya “be the voice” of children and families; use ministry platforms to promote child- protection, justice, and positive parenting; and advocate the implementation of existing legal protections and new laws.