Monday, July 26, 2004

Pope Calls for End to Violence in Africa

Yesterday, Pope John Paul II called for worldwide attention to ongoing violence in Africa, taking special note of crises in Sudan and Uganda.

"For over eighteen years, the North of Uganda has been scourged by an inhuman conflict, which affects millions of people, especially children," the Pope said.  He further discussed Sudan, noting that "The war, which has intensified in recent months, brings with it ever more poverty, despair, and death . . .  How can we remain indifferent?"

In Uganda, the Lord's Resistance Army is fuelled primarily by abducted child soldiers.  A vast majority of citizens of Northern Uganda live in government-run camps for internally-displaced, and face serious shortages of food as well as sub-standard water and sanitation.

In Sudan, a crisis is unfolding of proportions potentially matching Rwanda's 1994 genocide, if a stronger response from the international community is not heard.  Tens, or possible even hundreds, of thousands of civilians have already perished, and estimates through the end of the year for deaths are as high as half of a million.  Many non-governmental organizations are labeling the crisis as genocide, as Arab militias rape and pillage Black communities.