Day of Prayer for Peace in African Great Lakes Region

KINSHASA, Congo, DEC. 3, 2002 ( Catholic communities of Rwanda, Burundi and Congo met to observe a Day of Prayer for Peace and to reflect on the need for forgiveness.

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The prayer day on Sunday was in response to an appeal from the Assembly of the Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC), which wants to find a path to peace in the troubled Great Lakes region, Vatican Radio reported.

The bishops, who met in plenary session in the Congolese capital from Nov. 24-28, were pleased with signs of progress in the region, including the withdrawal of foreign troops from this country, the ongoing “intra-Congolese dialogue,” and peace talks in Burundi.

The bishops were also pleased with the U.N. report on the illegal exploitation and plundering of the Congo’s natural resources. They appealed for the implementation of U.N. recommendations and sanctions against those responsible for the illegal activity.

ACEAC also expressed the desire that the Congolese be indemnified as soon as possible, in order to reconstruct schools, roads and hospitals. The bishops recalled that in the war of occupation against the Congolese people, over 2.5 million people died.

Since 1997, Congo has been rent by ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow in 1994 of refugees from the fighting in Rwanda and Burundi.

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