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UAE suspends visas to 11 countries, including Pakistan

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has temporarily suspended the issuance of new visas to visitors from Pakistan and 11 other countries until further notice, according to the Foreign Office.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office confirmed the news saying that the decision by the UAE authorities is “believed to be related to the second wave of COVID-19”, news agency ANI reported.

“We have learnt that the UAE has temporarily suspended the issuance of new visit visas until further announcement for 12 countries, including Pakistan,” Pak’s Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said, adding that the government is seeking official confirmation from the UAE authorities in this matter.

However, the suspension would not apply on already issued visas, the Foreign Office said.

It was not immediately clear how many categories of visas would be affected by the suspension. The UAE has various visa categories, including business, tourist, transit and student.

The other countries hit by the UAE government’s fresh visa directives include Turkey, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Kenya and Afghanistan.

This development comes amid a rising number of cases of coronavirus in the country. For nearly one week, Pakistan has recorded over 2,000 fresh Covid-19 cases.

In June, when cases in Pakistan were on the rise, UAE airline Emirates had announced temporary suspension of passenger services from Pakistan till July 3.

Also, around 30 Pakistanis who arrived in Hong Kong on board an Emirates flight tested positive for the virus. The airline resumed its flights in July, the Dawn News reported.

In August, Kuwait’s aviation banned commercial flights to Pakistan and 30 other countries regarded as ‘high risk’ due to the spread of the coronavirus.

The number of infections has been rising in Pakistan since late last month and authorities have declared that the country was witnessing the second wave of COVID-19. The positivity rate of the disease has increased, especially in major cities including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad and Hyderabad.

On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had urged the people to “act as a nation” in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The country has so far recorded 363,380 cases of coronavirus and 7,230 deaths. There are 30,362 active COVID-19 cases in Pak as of now.

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Indonesian Terrorist Burns Down Church and Christian Homes, Killing Four

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International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 27, an alleged terrorist attacked the Salvation Army’s service post in central Sulawesi, before burning six houses of church members. Four Christians were murdered, with three being butchered.

Around 8 a.m., the Lewonu Lembantongoa Service Post, located in Sigi Regency, Central Sulawesi, set up as an outreach effort by the Salvation Army in Indonesia (Bala Keselamatan), was attacked by the alleged terrorist.

He set the church on fire, before attacking Captain Arnianto, Mrs. Mpapa, Lieutenant Abram Kako and his wife and burning down six houses of the church members. Out of the four victims, three were hacked to death, while the other was burned.

In the video seen by ICC, the charred victim was pulled from a pile of ruins, with smoke still rising in the background. The fowler position of the body suggests the agony and pain endured by the victim before death.

Lemban Tongoa is located in the forest, where access of information and transportation is limited. ICC will continue to follow up to learn more about the details of the attack. The Salvation Army is asking for prayers “for the family of the victims, for the church, and for the peace of the region.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “ICC mourns the death of the Indonesian brothers and sisters who were brutally murdered by the alleged terrorist. We urge the Indonesian government to take necessary measures to hold him accountable and put him to justice. Such senseless act cannot be tolerated in the country that boasts ‘Pancasila,’ the state ideology which promotes religious harmony and tolerance.”

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Christian Teen in Pakistan Escapes Abductors and Returns to Family

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Pakistan – According to local reports, a Christian teen from Pakistan’s Punjab province has recently returned to her family after being abducted and abused by a group of Muslim men.

On September 28, five armed men, identified as Talha Maider, Bilawal Jaffar, Jaffar Shareef, Salman, and Nomi, forcibly entered into the home of Maqsood Masih located in Village 248 of the Faisalabad district. According to Masih, the attackers were there to abduct his 16-year-old daughter named Shiza.

Members of the family attempted to protect Shiza but were beaten and abused by the assailants. Shiza was dragged into the street, forced into a vehicle, and taken to an unknown place where she was raped and abused for three days. According to Shiza, her abusers often called her ‘Chori’, a derogatory term used against Pakistani Christians.

To cover their crimes, Shiza’s abductors forcefully converted her to Islam and marrying her to one of the assailants. Shiza’s abductors used threats and physical violence to force Shiza to place her thumb impressions on both the marriage and conversion certificates.

After two months in captivity, Shiza managed to escape and, on November 23, Shiza returned to her family. Shiza and her family have filed an application against the abductors and have moved to a safe location. However, the police have yet to arrest any of the men identified by Shiza.

According to a study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted to Islam every year. Many of the victims are minors. Sexual assaults and fraudulent marriages are used by perpetrators to entrap victims and authorities are often complicit.

The issue of religion is injected into cases of sexual assault to place victims from religious minority communities at a disadvantage. Playing upon religious biases, perpetrators know they can cover up and justify their crimes by introducing an element of religion.
Sources:persecution

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