Harborough churches hold peace vigil

Churches Together Market Harborough peace vigil on the Square.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180801-101137005
Churches Together Market Harborough peace vigil on the Square.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER NNL-180801-101137005
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How many wars are there happening around the world right now?

Experts reckon there are no fewer than 17 in which more than a thousand people died in 2017.

They range from Afghanistan to Myanmar (Burma) and from Syria to Somalia.

Then there are a further 20 in which between 100 and 1,000 people died last year, and numerous ‘minor’ conflicts.

“We live in a world littered with wars and unrest” said Janet Smith, the chair of Churches Together in Harborough’s Justice and Peace Group.

“The idea of our Peace Vigil in Market Harboroough is for people to reflect and come together and think about peace for the world.”

Where are the worst conflicts in the world?

The bloodiest war last year was the Syrian Civil War, in which an estimated 39,000 men, women and children died in 2017.

At least 300,000 people have died in the multi-sided Syrian war since 2011.

A further 23,000 people were killed in Afghanistan in 2017.

That brings the death toll in that country since 1978 to more than 1.24million.

And one of the longest-running conflicts is actually in Myanmar (formerly called Burma).

There, the “current” tensions involving the Rohingya ethnic Muslim minority and the Buddhist majority – which also dominates the government and the army – dates back to at least 1978.

Around 650,000 Rohingya people from the country have now left their homes, according to the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

Most have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Janet conceded that many people blamed religion for some of the world’s most serious conflicts.

But she said: “As Christians we need to make a stand. After all, Jesus described himself as ‘The Prince of Peace’.”

The Market Harborough group has held the New Year vigil on The Square in the town for at least 20 years.

“Again last year we lacked the peace that people seem to crave and yet find so hard to put into practice” said Janet.

“The vigil is a time for us to reflect.”