ROME, SEPT. 9, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Comboni Missionaries appealed to the United Nations to intervene and halt the massacres decimating the Ugandan and Sudanese populations.
“Deeply touched” by the ongoing crises in Africa, the missionaries expressed their concern in a statement written in the framework of their general chapter, under way in Rome, and sent to the Missionary News Service Agency.
“We, 80 Comboni Missionaries,” their statement said, “representing some 1,800 missionaries working in various countries, together with the Comboni Missionary Sisters, wish to strongly support the request of the Acholi Religious Leaders, led by the archbishop of Gulu, John Baptist Odama, for the immediate intervention of an international force under the auspices of the U.N. in order to guarantee the security of the people of Northern Uganda.”
In Northern Uganda, in fact, “a genocide is taking place of the Acholi, Lango, Kunam and Teso Nilotic peoples,” they said. “Some 850,000 have been forced to flee their homes and are finding it difficult to survive in appalling situations. There is a shortage of food and medicine. There is the continual fear of attacks of the LRA” — the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army trying to oust Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
“In 17 years of terror the LRA has killed and tortured tens of thousands of victims, and abducted more than 20,000 children, who have been enslaved or forced into the ranks of the LRA,” the statement added.
The Comboni Missionaries and Comboni Missionary Sisters are “eyewitnesses of these atrocities,” said the statement, which was released Saturday.
After protesting against the silence of the international community and press, the Comboni Missionaries asked the U.N. Security Council, the European Union and the U.S. State Department “to give attention to this war of terror in Northern Uganda,” and to exert pressure on those involved in the conflict in Sudan, in order that a peace agreement be reached.
The Ugandan war is closely linked with the conflict in neighboring Sudan, where the soldiers of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army are battling the forces of the Khartoum government.
The Comboni Missionaries wish to give their support to the peace talks due to resume on Wednesday in Naivasha, Kenya, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the statement continued. These talks should bring to an end a war “that for more than 20 years has been wreaking havoc in southern Sudan.”
The missionaries “ask the U.N. Security Council and the European Union, to bear all their influence upon the parties involved so that they may reach a peaceful settlement. Peace in Uganda and in Sudan would be an encouraging sign of hope for the conclusion of the other conflicts in the area of the Great Lakes — Burundi, Rwanda, Congo.”