Dispatches > News

Mass exodus

An estimated 300,000 Uzbeks have fled their homes

Issue: "2010 Books Issue," July 3, 2010

Fleeing the grip of ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan, an estimated 300,000 minority Uzbeks fled their homes, seeking to escape ethnic purging by mobs of Kyrgyz in the Central Asian nation. Another 100,000 Uzbeks (not including children) spilled across the border into neighboring Uzbekistan. The Red Cross described the chaos as "an immense crisis."

Beginning June 10, violence erupted in the southern city Kyrgyz city of Osh, where gangs raided Uzbek neighborhoods, shooting citizens, looting stores, and burning homes. Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic of 5.5 million people, is home to some 1 million Uzbeks. In April a mass revolt ousted former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and the interim government accused Bakiyev of inciting violence to delay a June 27 vote on a new constitution. The United States maintains an air base in Kyrgyzstan that remains a critical hub for supplying coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Deadly passage

Uganda's proposed anti-homosexuality bill-which calls for execution for some homosexual conduct-could be dead by the end of summer, but the controversy that has ensnared U.S. Christians continues to unfold. Exodus International, a faith-based U.S. group promoting freedom from homosexuality, released a policy statement in June opposing criminalization of homosexual behavior "conducted by consensual adults in private." Media reports had suggested that a conference on homosexuality conducted by a group of U.S. Christians last year, including Exodus board member Don Schmierer, helped promote the legislation. Exodus president Alan Chambers expressed regret for not distancing the organization from last year's conference sooner, and for not heeding warnings that the conference could be inflammatory: "Exodus and I believe in the grace that stands 100 percent opposed to sin, 100 percent for holiness, and 100 percent for all people to have the opportunity to know Christ." A special committee appointed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has opposed passage of the bill, which includes the death penalty or lengthy prison sentences in some cases of homosexual conduct, and would require Ugandans to report homosexual activity to law enforcement.

Souder seat

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State Sen. Marlin Stutzman won by a wide margin the GOP nomination to contend for Indiana's 3rd Congres­sional District seat in the wake of Republican Rep. Mark Souder's resignation in May over an affair with a part-time staffer ("Lessons from a broken man," June 19, 2010). Stutzman gained statewide recognition for his formidable challenge to former Sen. Dan Coats in last month's Republican primary battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Evan Bayh. In that race he earned the backing of national figures like Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., though he lost to Coats.

Souder served as a congressman for 15 years and announced his resignation May 18 after winning his own tough Republican primary when the affair came to light. "I hope God will somehow use this mess to His glory," Souder told WORLD in a recent email. "I need some additional life changes and, assuming that I am humble enough to let the Holy Spirit use me, I will be back in other-if less prominent-ways."

Misery index

From a swarming crowd, Haitian earthquake victim Orilus Menard screamed a message for former President Bill Clinton as he toured her devastated town of Leogane: "Since the 12th of January, misery has been killing us." The misery index is soaring in Haiti as sweltering heat and hurricane season descend. In many ways, little has changed since the January disaster that killed some 300,000 victims and left more than 1 million homeless. While clusters of Haitians remove small mounds of rubble with shovels and picks, massive piles of collapsed buildings remain. U.S.-based contractors have moved equipment to Haiti, hoping to win contracts for rubble removal and reconstruction, but say they are still waiting. The international commission overseeing recovery is still debating how to spend some $9.9 billion in pledged aid. UN humanitarian chief John Holmes says he's frustrated with the miniscule progress and says the population of tent cities in Port-au-Prince has nearly doubled since the quake. Some Haitians have moved back to the city after finding rural areas depleted of resources, while others are newly homeless-unable to pay rent after quake-related loss of income. Disputes over land for temporary housing sites have stalled plans for them, leaving tens of thousands stranded in camps vulnerable to severe flooding.

Capital crime 

A video broadcast in May on an Afghan television station has touched off controversy for Afghanistan's tiny, mostly invisible Christian population and faith-based workers. Noorin TV video footage showed Afghans being baptized and participating with Westerners in Christian prayer meetings held in alleged "missionary safe houses" in western Kabul. The government quickly suspended from working in the country two church-based aid organizations-U.S.-based Church World Service and Norwegian Church Aid-though no evidence connected the groups with the baptisms.


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