Catholic Relief hasn't forgotten Iraqi civilians

Religion notes

December 26, 1991|By Patrick Ercolano | Patrick Ercolano,Evening Sun Staff

A year ago, the eyes of the world were fixed on the Persion Gulf, as 28 nations prepared to go to war to drive Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

The Persian Gulf War came and went, and other crises, both international and domestic, have since diverted our attention.

But one Baltimore-based organization has not forgotten Iraq's tormented civilians. Catholic Relief Services reports that it continues to offer emergency food and medical assistance to more than 200,000 people throughout Iraq.

According to CRS, which offers aid solely on the basis of need, the situation in Iraq is dire. Agricultural production is virtually non-existent, and the flow of imported goods on which the country relies has been stanched by an embargo.

The infant death rate in Iraq doubled this year, and a Harvard University research team says the death rate for children under the age of 5 years has increased by 350 percent since the war.

In recent testimony before the House Select Committee on Hunger, CRS officials cited the increasingly grim conditions in Iraq and urged a restructuring of the embargo.

"Whatever the political intent of the sanctions, it is clear that they are causing profound human suffering," one official stated.

Also, CRS announced last week that it has opened an office in Cambodia and undertaken a $1 million relief and rehabilitation to deal with strife caused by nearly 13 years of civil war in the Southeast Asian country.

Soviet immigrants:

The Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore has put out an urgent call for local Jewish families to serve as hosts to new Soviet Jewish immigrants.

The Jewish Community Center, an agency of The Associated, runs the Family to Family Program, in which local families help the immigrants make a smooth transition to American life, including helping them find places to live and introducing them to religious congregations.

Originally, 800 immigrants were expected to come to the Baltimore area from July 1, 1991, through June 30, 1992. However, about 500 immigrants will have arrived by the end of this month, and another 700 are expected by next July.

In recent years, about 300 Baltimore families have been matched with Russian families, The Associated says.

Edgar Ward:

The Rev. Edgar W. Ward, a noted Presbyterian Church U.S.A. leader with ties to Baltimore, died earlier this month in Louisville after a long illness. He was 66.

The director of the denomination's Church Vocations Ministry Unit at the time of his death, Ward had served as the pastor of Cherry Hill and Trinity Presbyterian churches in Baltimore. Also during his tenure here, he had held various offices with the local presbytery, including that of vice-moderator.

Ward is survived by his wife, Marjorie, a resident of Louisville. Their daughter, Lucia Ward-Alexander, lives in Baltimore and attends Lochearn Presbyterian Church.

Send religious news items -- about events, local personalities, miracles, etc. -- to Religion Notes, c/o Patrick Ercolano, The Evening Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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