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Weekly Prayers from CCOW

July 23 - 30

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  • Yemen Update
  • Seafarers
  • Short Note: Marawi City

Sponsored Walk and Summer Break: Huge thanks to our trustee, Colin Cockshaw, for organising yesterday's sponsored walk, and to all who walked or who sponsored us via our donations page (if you haven't already, it's not too late!)

Apologies for recent gaps in the provision of the prayer email. As is our custom, CCOW will have a summer break for our prayer email: the next email will come on 24 August. This will include our resources for Creation Time (1 September to 4 October). If you'd like to look at those resources earlier, they'll be going up on our website from the second week of August onwards.

Yemen Update

There have been several developments in the Yemen crisis over the past few weeks.

  • The World Health Organization estimated this week that over 368,000 people have contracted cholera in Yemen since the outbreak began in April: this makes the current epidemic, which has now reached almost all areas of the country, the largest outbreak recorded in a given year in a single country.  As the rainy season begins, Oxfam has said that the number infected could rise as high as 600,000. Moreover, whereas in a typical cholera outbreak, 20% of the cases would be regarded as severe (ie requiring treatment in a hospital or clinic), in Yemen, it's been estimated that 40% are - although the World Health Organization states that a network of rehydration points has kept the death rates relatively low.

    The problems of containing and treating the epidemic are exacerbated by the fact that the parties in the conflict have made it difficult to bring vital medicines to places that need them, and agencies estimate that because of conflict-related damage and inability to pay medical staff, only about 45% of the country's health infrastructure is still functioning. Indeed, in a briefing to the UN Security Council, Stephen O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, stated that the health system "had essentially collapsed." The situation is so problematic that the World Health Organization and UN aid coordination agency UNOCHA decided not to proceed with a large-scale vaccination programme and instead to focus on urgently trying to get people access to clean water, treatment and information about hygiene.

    Please pray:
    • for all affected by the cholera epidemic. Pray that those who have the disease will be able to access food, safe water and treatment and that they will be healed. Pray that those caring for family and friends will be sustained amidst the anxiety about their condition
    • for wisdom, strength and courage for the medical staff and humanitarian agencies working to prevent the spread of cholera and to treat those who have the disease.
    • for an end to the blockading of essential medical supplies
  • The UN peace process has stalled - and Yemeni experts and others who study Yemen are also warning that the conflict at this point is so complex, and involves so many local factions, that the UN process is unlikely to end fighting unless it does more to take into account local situations. Meanwhile rumours of potential political developments exist - but it's hard to tell, given their sources and the current Gulf Cooperation Council situation, how accurate they are.

    Please pray for all working on a political settlement to the conflict in Yemen. Pray that those seeking solutions will take into account the many local complexities of the situation.

Action Points:


Around the world, approximately 1.5 million seafarers work throughout the year to transport goods and people. Without them, the UK would not be able to handle over 90% of its trade. So, as the UN recently proclaimed in its theme for the Day of the Seafarer : "Seafarers matter". 

Seafarers are, however, among the most isolated and vulnerable workers: often away from their homes for months at a time, at sea for most of that, and when they do reach a port sometimes - perhaps because of security concerns or for lack of transport - unable to get off their vessel or to go far beyond the boundaries of the port itself. Moreover, while their ships are huge, the average crew is small - often only one or two dozen people. So while there can be considerable benefits for those on well-maintained vessels with good employers and good amenities, even such seafarers face being cut off from family and friends, placed with a small number of people who may or may not be congenial, and working in an environment where a change of weather can lead to sudden danger. 

In addition, not all vessels are well maintained - and some employers are abusive, holding back seafarers' salaries, exploiting their labour, providing inadequate housing or food, or when a vessel encounters difficulties, abandoning it and the seafarers aboard it in a foreign port without recourse to funds. In recent years, steps have been taken to protect seafarers; amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention that went into effect in January of this year require each member state to create a financial security system which will cover seafarers' needs in cases of abandonment and meet compensation claims in cases of work-related major disability or death. 

Agencies - some of them Christian - work to assist seafarers with personal needs and to ensure that they have access to their rights. The Mission to Seafarers and the Apostleship of the Sea, for example, provide chaplains to help with spiritual or practical welfare, centres where seafarers can congregate with others and get internet access to connect with home, transport for seafarers who want to travel beyond ports, and other forms of assistance as needed. The Vatican's Cardinal Turkson has also encouraged land-based parishes to offer support for seafarers' families.

Please pray:

  • in thanksgiving for the work that seafarers do to ensure that goods and people are conveyed safely
  • in thanksgiving for good employers who provide seafarers with a good working environment, and for improvements to the Maritime Labour Convention that offer greater security for seafarers and their families
  • in thanksgiving for the mission agencies that offer personal support to seafarers and their families
  • for seafarers whose employers are exploitative and abusive. Pray that they may get access to the help they need to secure justice and a good working environment
  • for agencies that are helping seafarers. Pray that they may themselves receive the support that they need to continue and expand their work
  • for work being done to make shipping more environmentally and socially sustainable

Additional Resources

Among those working to assist seafarers are:

  • Apostleship of the Sea - a Roman Catholic organisation providing spiritual and practical support to seafarers and their families worldwide. The link takes you to their parish resources page, which includes Cardinal Turkson's message for Sea Sunday, worship materials, and an interesting interview with a Filipino seafarer explaining the challenges of life at sea.
  • International Labour Organization - link goes to the Maritime Labour Convention's main webpage. The Convention seeks to guarantee seafarers' rights.
  • Mission to Seafarers - an Anglican organisation providing spiritual and practical support to seafarers and their families worldwide. This video is an excellent introduction to their work; they also have helpful worshipful materials.
  • Sailors' Society - Christian society providing spiritual and practical support to seafarers and their families worldwide. The Sailors' Society is moving into some non-traditional areas such as helping to rebuild houses and schools destroyed by Super Typhoon Haiyan in seafaring communities of the Philippines.
  • Seafarers' Rights International: "An independent centre dedicated to advancing the rights of seafarers through research, education and training in issues concerning seafarers and the law"
  • Seafarers UK, which provides grants to organisations supporting seafarers and campaigns to raise awareness of the maritime welfare sector overall
  • The UN Day of the Seafarer page has an enjoyable quiz which gives information about seafarers' lives and where they work.

Short Note: Marawi City

In June we asked prayers for the civilian population of Marawi City in the Philippines, displaced after Islamic militants attacked and occupied the city.  At the time, the Filipino government was confident of rapidly retaking the area. The militants, however, seem to have considerably greater capacity than was previously the case, and the battle is still ongoing. The head of the local government estimates that there are more than 500,000 displaced people, some of whom have fled the fighting and some of whom have fled because they fear abuses under martial law, which has just been extended in Mindanao until the end of the year.

Recognising that this is not going to be a quick and simply situation to resolve, organisations are doing work to help those who have fled to recover from their trauma and integrate into new communities. But much needs to be done to end the conflict, hear the needs of those in the region, allay their fears of ethnic and religious targeting, and take forward plans for peace.

Please pray for:

  • all those who have suffered because of the attacks on Marawi City, asking God to grant them healing
  • those charged with responding to the attack, asking God to grant them wisdom and discernment
  • members of the Filipino government, the government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and all responsible for maintaining institutions in the area
  • organisations that are working to help displaced people
  • the life and witness of the church amidst the difficulties

2017 Year Planner

Prayer Points Summer 2017 update

2017: Some dates for prayer and action
Collated by CCOW
“Special Sundays” and days when churches and individuals might wish to focus prayer and/or action on a
particular topic are in regular type. Green events relate to environment and food issues; blue to peace and
peacemaking; red to health, light blue to Fair Trade. Some global events that churches might wish to
pray about are in italics. Major events in the Church Year are in white on coloured backgrounds.
We hope this will be helpful whether for community or personal use. To send in corrections or to suggest
material for inclusion, email

Please let us have any comments by email: they're always helpful and have improved the resource over the years.

Do you have expertise in any of the areas touched on in this week's prayers ? If so, we'd love to hear from you with comments, thoughts or suggestions! Please do email us.