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  • » 10/09/2008, 00.00

    INDIA

    Orissa: Christian villages burned, 12,000 people missing from refugee camps

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Christians feel unsafe even under government protection, and are leaving the refugee camps to escape to other areas of India. In Kandhamal, the destruction has continued for more than a month.

    Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - About 12,000 people have disappeared from the refugee camps set up by the government of Orissa to accommodate the Christians fleeing from the violence of Hindu radicals and from their destroyed villages. Meanwhile, a dozen more houses have been burned, while the government of the state assures that it is doing everything possible to maintain security.

    Since August 24, a campaign of attacks against Christians and their institutions has been underway in the district of Kandhamal, killing 60 people and forcing 50,000 more to flee. Of these, at least 15,000 have been accommodated in refugee camps overseen by the government. But the Christians do not feel safe; in recent days, attacks have been conducted by Hindu fundamentalist groups against Christians in the camps, with threats and attempts to reconvert them to Hinduism. No Christians from the outside are permitted to enter the camps, and even volunteers and medical personnel from nongovernmental organizations are closely monitored, under the suspicion of wanting to favor conversions to Christianity.

    Meanwhile, news of more burned villages is coming from the diocese of Bhubaneshwar. Yesterday, in the village of Balligada, 25 homes belonging to Christians were first ransacked and then set on fire. On October 7 in Phiringia and Sujeli (G. Udayagiri), six homes were attacked and destroyed.

    The increasingly tense situation is in contrast with the assurances from the government of Orissa, which claims it is able to maintain security. According to the government, the Christians who leave the refugee camps are returning to their villages. In reality, according to sources in the diocese, Christians are leaving Orissa in search of more secure areas.

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    See also

    03/10/2008 INDIA
    Lalji Nayak, martyr for the faith in Orissa
    With a knife pressed to his throat, threatened with death, he did not renounce his Christian faith. But there are others who, under threat, have been forced to convert to Hinduism. Injured Christians attacked even in the hospital. Three more villages attacked in the district of Kandhamal. The missionaries of Mother Teresa want to return to take care of leprosy and tuberculosis patients.

    09/09/2008 INDIA
    Orissa: no peace for Christians even in refugee camps
    Even in the camps, the faithful find fundamentalists who coerce them to convert to Hinduism. Priests also threatened and abused.

    18/10/2008 INDIA
    Christians of Orissa appeal to UN as "stateless citizens"
    The government of Orissa is even closing the refugee camps, and thousands of people have nowhere to go. An appeal to the UN, that it grant Indian Christians the status of refugees, protect them, and send them the food and shelter that India is denying them.

    13/09/2008 INDIA
    Orissa, the drama of the refugees: forced conversion to Hinduism or more violence
    According to the government, the situation is "under control", but it has delayed the elections, and has barred entry to the district of Kandhamal. A Christian activist denounces new violence against the refugees, while Hindu fundamentalists have drawn up a list of 140 Christians "guilty" of the murder of the Swami.

    25/11/2008 INDIA
    Sisters of Mother Teresa collect aid for children of Orissa
    There is a health emergency in the refugee camps: measles and chickenpox are rampant among the youngest children. The nuns have begun a fund-raising campaign in institutes all over the country. Hindu fundamentalists confirm that they will oppose the observance of Christmas, and threaten new violence.



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