Aid Sought for Famished Sahel

African Region’s Basic Need Is Survival, Says Official

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2007 ( The John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel is appealing for help to surmount famine in sub-Saharan Africa.

The appeal came at the Sunday close of the meeting of the foundation’s administrative council.

The foundation was instituted by Pope John Paul II after his first trip to Africa in 1980 in which the nation of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) appealed on behalf of populations that struggle daily to survive in the face of the desert’s encroachment.

The foundation’s administrative council is made up of bishops representing the episcopates of nine countries of the Sahel.

The custody of funds is entrusted to the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” which coordinates the charitable work of Catholic institutions worldwide.

Monsignor Karel Kasteel, secretary of the council, said that the first need in the Sahel is survival.

“Given the very great climatic changes, it costs the population much to rescue lands from the desert because, as is known, the Sahara continues to advance,” said the monsignor.

“They need means, they need help. And, taking into account that it is very difficult to know how to use all the technologies, they are also in need of formation,” he added.

To answer this need, the foundation also offers scholarships for students.

The priest asked Catholics worldwide to offer their prayers and financial support for the needs of the peoples in the Sahel.

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