This Week in Restoring Family Links News 2/15/2016 - 2/19/2016

Pope Francis smiles upon arrival at the US-Mexico border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Photo Credit: Gabriel Bouys, AP

Pope Francis smiles upon arrival at the US-Mexico border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Photo Credit: Gabriel Bouys, AP

Pope in Mexico: On Wednesday, the Pope completed a six-day trip to Mexico by praying at the U.S.-Mexico border in the city of Ciudad Juarez. Before celebrating mass at a fairground, the Pontifex paid a visit to the border fence to pray for those who have lost their lives on the perilous journey north, alongside a giant metal cross meant to commemorate them.  In attendance were tens of thousands, many of whom crossed the border from El Paso, Texas to hear the Pope speak. 

During his homily, he called for those listening to have open hearts and recognize the exploitation that drives many to flee their homelands. "We cannot deny the humanitarian crisis" the pope stated, in reference to the thousands of migrants who "are being expelled by poverty and violence, drug trafficking and organized crime". The city of Ciudad Juarez is a pivotal crossing for those trying to reach the United States, and has recently been plagued by drug and migration-related violence. The pope offered words of inspiration to youth to avoid drug trafficking, and took a swipe at Mexico's powerful and corrupt: "the flow of capital cannot decide the flow of people"

Staff waiting at the last checkpoint before entering Moadamiyeh.

Staff waiting at the last checkpoint before entering Moadamiyeh.

Aid to Syria: Yesterday, a convoy of 31 trucks organized by the World Food Programme delivered food and other humanitarian supplies to the Syrian town of Moadamiyeh for the first time in nineteen months. Residents rejoiced as many had been living off of extremely restricted rations due to the ongoing fighting and blockading throughout the country. Stories such as this and in other towns like Madaya give those still stuck in the war-torn nation hope of livelihood and support from the international community. 

On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it will facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the blockaded city of Deir ez-Zor via air carrier. The Ministry is working with the World Food Programme to hopefully ensure uninterrupted delivery of aid for Deir ez-Zor and other such Syrian towns. The once prosperous oil town of Deir ez-Zor is now suffering from skyrocketing food prices in response to the ongoing ISIS blockade, leaving many without access to adequate food for months, as well as hospitals full of dying children. 

Financial assistance from the European Commission enables a Guatemalan woman affected by drought to buy corn and beans for herself and her children. Photo credit: Marvin Castañeda, ACF

Financial assistance from the European Commission enables a Guatemalan woman affected by drought to buy corn and beans for herself and her children. Photo credit: Marvin Castañeda, ACF

Central American Drought: Central America continues to grapple with its worst drought in recent history due to irregular El Nino weather patterns. This comes right after a coffee rust infestation which had been affecting coffee plantations in the region since  2012, leading to a total loss of 50-100% of corn and bean crops among 175,000 households, mostly in Guatemala. Severe food insecurity, along with widespread violence in the region, continue to be push factors for large numbers of migrants to leave this region and travel north.