Angolan President Appeals to Pope for Assistance to Rebuild Country

Dos Santos Alludes to Legacy of Civil War

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 12, 2002 ( Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos has appealed to the Pope and the entire Catholic Church to help get his country back on its feet after a decades-long civil war.

He made his appeal in a letter dated March 18, which has just been published, the Misna missionary agency reported.

In the text, the Angolan leader describes the national resources as «totally insufficient» to address the onerous legacy — 4 million evacuees, more than 100,000 mutilated individuals, and at least 50,000 orphans — of decades of civil war. He appeals for help for the efficient reconstruction of the country of 10.3 million people, now that peace has been attained.

«We hope that the Catholic Church will help us to mobilize the necessary resources to finance the efforts that the Angolan government has in mind to construct a better future in which justice, peace and respect for human rights will reign,» Dos Santos concludes.

The Church in Angola is the oldest in sub-Saharan Africa. It has often represented the only point of reference both for the population as well as the various political actors.

Last May, Jonas Savimbi sent a letter requesting the bishops to relaunch a useful dialogue to pacify the country. Savimbi, the founder of the UNITA guerrilla movement, died in battle Feb. 22.

Last week, there was an official celebration to mark the end of the civil war, which had lasted since 1975, when the country became independent from Portugal.

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