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Pope underlines urgency of famine in Somalia

Catholic World News - August 01, 2011

For the 3rd consecutive week, Pope Benedict XVI used his Sunday audience on July 31 to call the world’s attention to a devastating famine in the Horn of Africa.

Commenting on the day’s Gospel reading, about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the Holy Father said that the story prefigures the Eucharist. He went on: “In the Eucharist Jesus also makes us witnesses of God’s compassion for every brother and sister.” In imitation of Christ, he continued, all Christians have the duty to help those in need.

In that context, the Pope reminded the 3,000 people who had gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence about the urgent need felt by millions of people in eastern Africa. In Somalia particularly—where aid efforts are more difficult because warlords have driven out international humanitarian groups—fully one-fourth of the country’s people have now left their home in search of food, often headed for over-extended refugee camps in bordering nations. Ethiopia and parts of Kenya have also been hit hard by the famine.

Bishop Giorgio Bertin, the apostolic administrator of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, told Vatican Radio that the Pope’s appeals in recent weeks have inspired some new relief efforts, and he hoped the Pontiff’s new call would bring more. Bishop Bertin said that Catholic relief agencies are working overtime in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. In Somalia, he reported, Church-backed groups cannot reach the people directly, but have tried to channel supplies through local groups.

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