Congolese Have "Sacred Right" to Peace

Holy See Calls for More International Involvement

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GENEVA, Switzerland, DEC. 11, 2008 ( The people of Congo have a «sacred right to peace,» and that peace can only come based on justice, says the Holy See.

This affirmation was made by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, at a special meeting on the Congo held Nov. 28.

«The international community cannot stand by idle and needs to speak out clearly. In fact, with a view on the growing consensus behind the responsibility to protect, it is of utmost importance for the international community to restore the rule of law and to search for the common good,» he said.

Archbishop Tomasi joined the voice of the Holy See to that of the international community in condemning the serious violations of human rights and of humanitarian law,» including the use of child soldiers and the use of torture and other inhumane treatment, including sexual violence against women.

The Holy See representative further denounced «the illicit trade of weapons, and in particular of small arms and light weapons in the DRC. They increase the intensity of violence and threaten the life and the integrity of an unacceptable number of innocent people.»

«My delegation calls upon the warring parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo to respect the ceasefire that has been reached, and to comply with the peace agreements that have been signed in the past,» he concluded. «The people of Congo, like all the people of our planet, have a ‘sacred right to peace.’ In order to achieve a stable peace it has to be based upon dialogue and reconciliation as peace can only be achieved through justice.»

Since the archbishop’s address, the rebel-declared ceasefire in North Kivu province is basically still in effect, though aid workers in the area say the humanitarian emergency is still raging.

The U.N. peacekeeping force there is still the largest in the world, with 17,000 members, but they have been unsuccessful at bringing the conflict to an end. Aid organizations want more help sooner than months from now, when U.N. reinforcements are set to arrive.

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