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Vatican highlights emergency relief efforts in Horn of Africa

Catholic World News - October 07, 2011

At an October 7 press conference, Vatican officials highlighted the work of Church agencies responding to a famine in the Horn of Africa.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum—the charitable arm of the papacy—reported that at least 13 million people are directly endangered by the famine, which is menacing Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and neighboring lands. He warned, ”the millions of displaced persons who are currently wandering in an attempt to survive, will become tomorrow's refugees, illegal migrants, stateless persons, people without a home, job or community. An entire generation risks being lost.”

Pope Benedict XVI has sent $400,000 in immediate relief, the cardinal reported. The Pontiff has issued an urgent call for other international leaders to join in the humanitarian cause. At the Vatican press conference a representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury read a message from the Anglican leader saying that “it is an agonizing indictment on the world to find ourselves once again staring into the face of famine.”

Bishop Giorgio Bertin, the apostolic administrator of Mogadishu, Somalia, told reporters that political conflicts and instability have aggravated the problem in the Horn of Africa. In Somalia particularly, economic development has been stunted because the country has not had an effective national government for more than 20 years; relief efforts have been paralyzed by Islamic militants who refuse to allow humanitarian convoys to pass.

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