10 Facts About the Genocide of the Punic PeopleGenocide is a term that defines deliberate violence against national, ethnical, racial or religious groups with the intent to eradicate the entire population. This term did not come into use until after WWII; however, it is possible to trace the earliest recorded genocide to 149 B.C. in the Punic Wars. Three Punic Wars were fought over almost a century between Rome and Carthage that resulted in the complete destruction of Carthage and the genocide of its people, known now as the genocide of the Punic people.

Below are 10 little-known facts about the genocide of the Punic people:

  1. The Punic Wars are thought to be the first-ever recorded genocide.
  2. The Punic Wars first began because of a conflict of territory and the expansion of Rome into Carthage; however, after the First Punic War, the conflict was more deep-rooted for Rome in their hatred of the Punic people.
  3. Marcus Porcius Cato, member of the Roman Senate, believed that Rome was superior to Carthage and he concluded each of his speeches with three hateful words, “Delenda est Carthaago,” which means, “Carthage must be destroyed.”
  4. Carthage was the dominant power at the start of the First Punic War. Rome quickly rose above Carthage, destabilizing it, seizing its territory and its people.
  5. The Third Punic War was extremely controversial. As a result of the First and Second Punic Wars, Carthage was virtually powerless. Yet, because of the efforts of Cato and other Roman Senators to persuade Romans that Carthage “must be destroyed,” the Romans began to initiate the Third Punic War.
  6. Rome demanded Carthaginians as hostages, among other difficult conditions. Carthage fulfilled all of the demands. Still, Rome ordered even further unreasonable demands.
  7. When Carthage refused to destroy its own city and rebuild elsewhere, the Roman Republic set fire to all of Carthage, devastating the city and killing many remaining Carthaginians. The flames took 17 days to die out.
  8. The very few surviving Carthaginians were sold into slavery.
  9. The Romans also destroyed five allied African cities of Punic culture. This speaks to the very nature of the genocide. It is clear that the Punic people were deliberately targeted with the intent to eradicate them.
  10. The remains of ancient Carthage are few. Some Punic cemeteries, shrines and fortifications have been discovered, but a majority of the ruins that remain in the area were rebuilt in the Roman period after Carthage’s destruction.

There are several aspects of the genocide of the Punic people that differ greatly from modern genocide. There are also aspects of the tragedy that resemble the thinking in the Holocaust and other genocides such as in Cambodia and Rwanda. In all of these instances, leaders were preoccupied with militaristic expansionism, the idealization of cultivation, notions of social hierarchy and racial or cultural prejudices.

Jamie Enright

Photo: Flickr

Pope Francis Visit Spotlights Human Trafficking in Europe
Slavery persists in the modern age all over the world, in fact, many first world countries fall victim to human trafficking, yet these instances are rarely publicized.  Human trafficking in Europe is both under-reported and under prosecuted. In 2010, at least 2,400 victims in Italy were identified but only 14 perpetrators were convicted. Pope Francis is helping to open the discussion of human trafficking and making headlines with his visit to 20 women forced into prostitution. In addition to providing valuable support to the women, he is helping to garner international attention and support to this important issue.

On August 12, Pope Francis made a surprise visit to 20 women in a Church-sponsored apartment in Rome. Most of the women are about 30 years old from Nigeria, Romania and Albania. They were lured in with jobs but seriously abused and forced into prostitution. He spent over an hour listening and supporting these women. This visit was part of the Pope’s Fridays of Mercy, where he visits a suffering community.

While human trafficking is rarely discussed, the fact of the matter is, everyday people are coerced into hard labor or sex. Both individuals and organized crime groups can be the perpetrators. Gabriela Chiroiu, head of an anti-trafficking program, says that traffickers in Romania “operate as cells,” which make it difficult to find all the disconnected groups. Italy’s expansive coast makes it particularly attractive for smugglers. These are only two countries heavily affected by human trafficking. There are an estimated 15,846 victims of human trafficking in Europe.

Pope Francis’ visit was not the first time he called attention to this grievous breach of human rights. Last year, he congratulated the Catholic Santa Marta Group for their work to end slavery. Earlier this summer, he emphasized at the Judge’s Summit that it was everyone’s responsibility to end modern slavery.

Fortunately, Pope Francis is not the only one fighting this important issue. Reaching Out Romania has helped 470 victims all over Europe. Not for Sale, an international organization, provides internships and job training for victims in the Netherlands and legal assistance for victims in Romania.

The fight against human trafficking in Europe and the rest of the world is quiet but alive and ongoing. Pope Francis’s visit and remarks have brought this injustice to the public eye again. The 15,846 European victims need support and assistance that can only come once human trafficking is widely recognized as a problem.

Jeanette I. Burke

Photo: Flickr

Mobile Medical Unit
Revolutionary in more ways than one, the Vatican recently donated a mobile medical unit to the people of one of the most ancient cities on the planet. The unit tours Rome’s borders and offers free health care to those in need — including but not limited to immigrants, expectant mothers and children.

Pope Francis is a prominent voice for those in need. Regularly speaking out about people living in poverty, the Pope frequently stresses the importance and impact that the impoverished have on society.

The life-saving vehicle does its best to blend in — with Vatican City license plates and the Holy See’s coat of arms (two keys topped by a papal crown), the mobile medical unit is Roman through and through. Dr. Lucia Ercoli, director of the Instituto di Medicina Solidale, said that using Vatican license plates allows migrants living in inhumane conditions to experience the closeness of the Pope and the church.

Istituto di Medicina Solidale staff, a group of volunteer doctors, health care professionals and medical students, use the RV-styled vehicle to assist people in need. The vehicle serves a diverse group of people, including many refugee children who lost their parents during the dangerous journey from their home country to Italy.

The group has been active since 2004 and partners with other nonprofit groups and the church to create makeshift clinics that offer services to the poor. In the summer of 2015, the association started providing services to a church-run center for immigrants near a city train station. In one day, hundreds of people showed up for check-ups.

In March of 2015, the Vatican opened a “clinic for the poor” located near the colonnade. The clinic offered free medical treatment and services to those unable to afford basic medical care.

Additionally, the Vatican has provided access to showers and barbershops. In October 2015, Pope Francis and his fellow Jesuits converted an old travel agency into a dormitory for the homeless.

The Vatican mobile medical unit provides a more private setting for patients and includes more equipment. As of August 2016, the vehicle has accommodated more than 2,000 people near shanty towns and abandoned buildings while simultaneously paving the way for further developments in healthcare.

Jacqueline Venuti

Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in Italy
Rome, Italy has a population of nearly 2.9 million people and is considered to be one of Europe’s most significant cities. Notwithstanding its status as a city rich with culture and history, Rome is also a victim of poverty.

Although the country has seem some economic stability during the past several years, Rome, as well as the rest of Italy, are not foreign to financial turmoil.

Several years ago, poverty in Italy reached its highest level in over 16 years. It resulted in high levels of unemployment and lower wages. Today, more than 16 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty.

In Italy, poverty is defined by a family of two living on a monthly income of 991 euros or less.

Similar to much of the industrialized world, Italy experienced an economic recession following the global stock market downturn of the late 2000s. Between 2011 and 2012, the nation saw its poverty levels increase.

Like the rest of the country, Rome’s economy is decidedly mixed. Even though Italy has seen some economic improvement in recent years, there continues to be some worrisome signs.

As a metropolitan city and popular tourist destination, Rome, like many of Europe’s cities, regularly sees its economy boosted by tourism. This is in conjunction with an increasingly significant number of African refugees who occupy isolated camps and villages around the city.

Unlike other countries, Italy does not provide refugees with adequate skill sets and chances to seek new economic opportunities. Many of these refugees, who are from the impoverished nations of the Horn of Africa, often find similar poverty conditions along the outskirts of Rome.

Such poverty is not limited to African refugees, however. Thousands of children in the city live in a state of poverty. Austerity measures, generated by the recession of recent years, have not had much of an effect.

Perhaps only time can help alleviate some of Rome’s economic suffering. With its notable tourism industry, Rome will likely remain one of Europe’s most prominent cities despite its lingering poverty problem.

– Ethan Safran

Sources: Reuters, Ansa Med, Open Society Foundations, Global Post, The Guardian
Photo: RT