Pope hopes for peace in Yemen, Syria and other flashpoints

Pope hopes for peace in Yemen, Syria and other flashpoints
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This handout picture released by the Vatican press office on December 25, 2018 at St Peter's square in Vatican shows Pope Francis waving from the balcony of St Peter's basilica during the traditional "Urbi et Orbi" Christmas message to the city and the world. (AFP / Vatican Press Office)
Pope hopes for peace in Yemen, Syria and other flashpoints
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Pope Francis waves after delivering the “Urbi et Orbi” message from the main balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, December 25, 2018. (Reuters)
Pope hopes for peace in Yemen, Syria and other flashpoints
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Members of Swiss Guard are seen as Pope Francis delivers the “Urbi et Orbi” message from the main balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, December 25, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 25 December 2018

Pope hopes for peace in Yemen, Syria and other flashpoints

Pope hopes for peace in Yemen, Syria and other flashpoints
  • The pontiff said he hoped a truce in Yemen would end the war there
  • He also said he hoped for renewed peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis offered a Christmas wish for fraternity among people of different nations, cultures, faiths, races or ideas, describing the world's differences as a richness, not a danger, and championing the rights of religious minorities.
His plea Tuesday for stronger bonds among peoples came as nationalism and a suspicion of migrants are gaining traction across much of the globe.
The long war in Syria, famine amid warfare in Yemen, social strife in Venezuela and Nicaragua, conflicts in Ukraine and tensions on the Korean Peninsula were among the pope's concerns in his Christmas Day message, which he read from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.
Addressing some 50,000 tourists, pilgrims and Romans who flocked to St. Peter's Square on a mild, sunny day, Francis said the universal message of Christmas is that "God is a good Father and we are all brothers and sisters."
"This truth is the basis of the Christian vision of humanity," Francis said in the traditional papal "Urbi et Orbi" ("to the city and the world") message. Without fraternity, he said, "even our best plans and projects risk being soulless and empty." He called for that spirit among individuals of "every nation and culture" as well as among people "with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another."
"Our differences, then, are not a detriment or a danger; they are a source of richness," Francis said.
Francis prayed that all minorities have their right to religious freedom respected, noting that some Christians were celebrating Christmas "in difficult, if not hostile, situations."
Communist China is witnessing a systematic suppression of religion, including some restrictions on Christmas celebrations this year. The government's suppression campaign includes re-education camps for Uighur Muslims and a crackdown on Christian churches.

Without specifying religions or countries, Francis prayed for "all those people who experience ideological, cultural and economic forms of colonization and see their freedom and identity compromised."
Francis urged the international community to find a political solution that "can put aside divisions and partisan interests" and end the war in Syria. He said he hoped that an internationally-brokered truce for Yemen would bring relief to that country's people, especially children, "exhausted by war and famine."
He encouraged dialogue among Israelis and Palestinians to end conflict "that for over 70 years has rent the land chosen by the Lord to show his face of love."
In Africa, Francis recalled the millions fleeing warfare or in need of food, and prayed for "a new dawn of fraternity to arise over the entire continent."
Francis urged Venezuelans to "work fraternally for the country's development and to aid the most vulnerable." Millions of Venezuelans are fleeing their country's economic and humanitarian crisis in what has become the largest exodus in modern Latin American history, according to the United Nations.
On Monday night, the 82-year-old pope celebrated Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.


Alarming study reveals effects of long COVID

Alarming study reveals effects of long COVID
Updated 47 min 44 sec ago

Alarming study reveals effects of long COVID

Alarming study reveals effects of long COVID
  • Almost a third of patients who recover return to hospital within 5 months, 1 in 8 dies
  • Author: ‘People seem to be going home, getting long-term effects, coming back in and dying’

LONDON: A new study has revealed the devastating toll that COVID-19 takes on those who recover, with patients experiencing a myriad of illnesses including heart problems, diabetes and chronic conditions.

The study by researchers at the University of Leicester and the UK’s Office of National Statistics said data shows that almost a third of patients who recover from infection return to hospital with further symptoms within five months, and one in eight die.

Out of 47,780 people who were discharged from hospital in the UK’s first wave, 29.4 percent were readmitted to hospital within 140 days, and 12.3 percent of the total died.

“This is the largest study of people discharged from hospital after being admitted with COVID-19,” said the study’s author Kamlesh Khunti, professor of primary care diabetes and vascular medicine at the University of Leicester.

“People seem to be going home, getting long-term effects, coming back in and dying. We see nearly 30 percent have been readmitted, and that’s a lot of people. The numbers are so large. The message here is we really need to prepare for long COVID.”

Long COVID is the term used to characterize the long-term effects that many patients experience after catching and subsequently recovering from the virus.

Khunti said the illnesses that people have been recorded as experiencing after recovering include heart, kidney and liver problems, as well as diabetes.

Other studies have found that patients experience breathlessness and fatigue, and some have even been confined to wheelchairs by long COVID.

The University of Leicester study has not yet been peer reviewed, meaning it has not yet undergone rigorous critique by peers in the field, but scientists have already hailed its results.

Christina Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at University College London, tweeted: “This is such important work. Covid is about so much more than death.”