Chad Bishops Urge Authorities to Forestall Disaster

Lament Corrupt and Massacres

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N’DJAMENA, Chad, MAY 5, 2004 ( Chad’s bishops warn of widespread corruption, a resumption of massacres against the population, and an «unhealthy» social climate that are threatening this central African nation.

In a message sent to the Vatican agency Fides, at the close of the assembly of the episcopal conference held in Moundou, the country’s Catholic bishops said: «For some time we have noted a growing degradation of the sociopolitical conditions in Chad, aggravated by tension between countries in this region.»

The bishops are most concerned about the flow of refugees from Sudan fleeing from the fighting in the Darfur region.

This flow of people «could provoke insecurity in many forms and the instability we see beyond the frontiers could enflame the entire region,» they warned in their statement published Monday.

The prelates called on national and international political authorities to find a solution to this tragedy, «a solution which must be political, for the good of the country and the region.»

The bishops noted that the nation’s problems include killings in the east and the south, and pressure from nomad animal breeders on sedentary peoples. Moreover, corruption affects state institutions, and wages are paid late, they said.

These social problems disorient people and generate violence, the bishops added, lamenting the «unprecedented moral and civil crisis that has befallen our youth.»

Demoralized by the absence of a political and social program to guarantee their future, young people in Chad are in danger of being an easy prey for extremism, the bishops said. About half of Chad’s 9.2 million people are Muslim.

The bishops question if, under such conditions, it is wise to proceed with a revision of the Constitution.

«If the president and the National Assembly have the right to change the Constitution, they also have the grave responsibility to explain the motives for doing so,» the prelates said.

The bishops urged political leaders to put aside personal interests and «work resolutely for dialogue in order to save the country from a foreseeable tragedy. The people will be grateful.»

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