World Tour

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour.

This week Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere is our guide. And remember, you can read her work each week at She writes a weekly Roundup that shares the same name: World Tour.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Peace deal in CAR—We begin today in Africa…

AUDIO: [Sound from meeting in Sudan]

…where leaders of the Central African Republic have signed a peace deal with 14 rebel groups. The deal signed Tuesday follows two weeks of talks in Sudan.

As the talks began, the African Union peace and security commissioner said it was time to lay down all arms and silence expressions of hatred.

AUDIO: [Sound of man speaking in French]

Fighting in the Central African Republic broke out in 2013. The conflict has killed thousands of people. Thousands more fled their homes and communities. The UN warned the fighting carried a high risk of genocide.

The conflict began when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in Bangui. Largely Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back. Despite the groups’ religious affiliations, most analysts described the divide as more sectarian and tribal.

Asia Bibi still in Pakistan—Next we go to Pakistan, where Asia Bibi remains in hiding despite recent reports that she’d made it to Canada.

AUDIO: [Sound of crowds and police dispersing]

Hardline Islamists took to the streets Friday to protest the Supreme Court’s final decision in Bibi’s blasphemy case. That decision freed the Christian mother to leave the country whenever she likes.

Her lawyer initially said she had flown to Canada to be reunited with her daughters. But Canadian and Pakistani officials disputed that, saying she remained in hiding while they tried to figure out a way for her to leave safely.

Syrian religious groups plead with Trump—Next we go to the Middle East. A coalition of Christians, Arabs, and Kurds controlling part of northern Syria have drafted a joint letter to U.S. President Donald Trump. In the letter, the group cautions against withdrawing U.S. troops from the region. They insist that would “severely undercut” efforts to install non-sectarian democracy in the region.

Last week, a UN spokesman said civilians remain at risk from the ongoing conflict.

AUDIO: UNHCR reiterates once again its call to all parties in the conflict, and those with influence over them, to take all possible action to ensure that civilians and infrastructure, civilian infrastructures are protected in line with international humanitarian and human rights law.

Islamic State militants nearly destroyed northern Syria, but residents are starting to rebuild. About 100,000 ethnic Christians live in the area. And now more than 20,000 Muslim converts to Christianity are also trying to build lives there.

Pope celebrates historic mass in UAE—We end today in the United Arab Emirates…

AUDIO: [Sound of crowds cheering]

Where Pope Francis held a historic open air mass before a crowd of about 170,000 people. The very public service at Abu Dhabi’s sports stadium marked a first in a country that normally restricts worship to indoor facilities.

Although the UAE is a Muslim nation, an estimated 1 million of its migrant laborers are Catholics from India and the Philippines.

AUDIO: I came here for the pope mass. I felt encouraged because it’s the first time I’m going to meet the pope, who came from Rome. It’s like an opportunity for me that I have.

During his homily, the pope encouraged them to remain strong in their faith. He said, “It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, but the Lord is faithful and does not abandon his people.”

That’s this week’s World Tour. I’m Onize Ohikere reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.

(AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili) Pope Francis blesses worshippers during a Mass at the Sheikh Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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