In Brief

In Brief Fr Stan Swamy SJ
Russian troops instilling fear in Ukraine border regions

A Catholic bishop from eastern Ukraine said tensions remain high despite an announced withdrawal of Russian forces.

“Nothing has changed – the great bulk of Russian forces are still here, as fighting flares intermittently and people still die,” said Bishop Stanislav Szyrokoradiuk of Odessa-Simferopol.

“The east and south of Ukraine are areas of greatest Russification in Ukraine and have always been the main object of Russian interest. So the situation remains insecure – no one knows what will happen.” Current estimates indicate Russia has more than 100,000 military personnel at the border. In an April 28 interview with Catholic News Service, Bishop Szyrokoradiuk said constant media images of Russian tanks and troop movements had instilled “great fear” among Catholics, especially in Odessa and Kharkiv.


Jailed Indian Jesuit appeals to high court seeking bail

An elderly Indian Jesuit priest has approached Bombay High Court seeking his release on bail a month after a special court twice turned down his bail plea.

Fr Stan Swamy’s legal team on April 26 filed a bail application in the high court of Maharashtra state in western India, said Fr A. Santhanam, a Jesuit who is monitoring the case.

The latest move comes a month after a special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the federal anti-terror agency, denied the priest bail for a second time on March 22.

“He has been in prison for over 200 days. He approached the special court twice seeking his release on bail, but unfortunately his demands were rejected after the probe agency opposed it,” Fr Santhanam told UCA News on April 29.


Thousands displaced by military airstrikes in Myanmar

Myanmar’s military has stepped up its offensive in Karen and Kachin ethnic areas with airstrikes and ground attacks that have displaced thousands of people.

On April 27, the military resumed airstrikes, dropping five bombs near Bwa Dear and Dagwin villages in Butho township of Papun district in Karen state, according to Free Burma Rangers, a Christian humanitarian group.

It said the latest offensive has increased the numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from 24,000 to 25,000.

The group said there were three airstrikes between Dagwin and Ei Htu Hta IDP camps on April 28 morning and more than 100 IDPs at Ei Tu Hta camp crossed to Thailand.

The airstrikes came after an army base was captured by Karen guerrillas near the border with Thailand.


Three kidnapped Catholics released in Haiti

More than 10 days after five priests, two nuns, and three lay people were abducted in Haiti and held for ransom, there are reports that three of the kidnapped Catholics have been released.

Fr Loudger Mazile, a spokesman for the Haitian bishops’ conference, told AFP on April 22 that the two kidnapped French citizens – one missionary priest and a religious sister – were still being held by the kidnappers, along with five others.

Mazile added that the three lay people, who are family members of a Haitian priest, were not among those who were released.

The group of Catholics was abducted on April 11 at Croix-des-Bouquets, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, while on the way to attend the installation of a parish priest.