Papal Donation Aims to Fight Hunger in Malawi and Zambia

Encourages Assistance to Populations on Verge of Starvation

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LUSAKA, Zambia, MARCH 8, 2002 ( John Paul II made a symbolic donation of $30,000 to the peoples of Zambia and Malawi, to encourage solidarity with the two African countries threatened by hunger.

The donation, channeled through the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” was confirmed to ZENIT in a statement by the communications secretary of the Zambian bishops´ conference.

At the end of February, President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi declared his country to be in a state of hunger. At least 70% of Malawi´s 10 million inhabitants are on the verge of starvation.

Catherine Bertini, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, said on Feb. 26 that drought, flooding and economic hardship had created the calamity. The organization was targeting 2.4 million people in southern Africa, particularly Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

In Zambia, more than 1.3 million people urgently need help. In Malawi, the situation worsens daily for thousands of rural and urban dwellers, as staple foods remain scarce. In both countries, desperate people are beginning to consume green, immature corn, which will exhaust the harvest production months earlier than normal.

In a statement, the Zambian bishops´ conference explained that “Cor Unum” also “encourages the present mobilization of parishes, religious congregations and Catholic movements, and offers them its services, either through direct assistance within its possible limits or by stimulating other agencies, such as Caritas Internationalis, toward generous collaboration.”

“In that context, the apostolic nunciature has requested both the episcopal conference of Zambia and Malawi to coordinate, as early as possible, the interactions between the various diocesan Caritas with Caritas Internationalis, in order to assist the people in need,” the statement said.

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