AFRICA/KENYA - Disarmament, first step to resolve cross-border pastoral conflicts

Friday, 17 May 2019 weapons   bishops   peace  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "We will no longer remain silent. We will no longer remain indecisive and we will no longer be fearful. We are committed in highlighting the suffering caused by small arms in the daily lives of our people", said the Bishops attending the 6th Annual Inter-Diocesan Conference on Cross-Border Peace and Evangelization held at St. Teresa Pastoral Centre, Turkana, in the north of Kenya.
The participants, of Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia, have faced the problem of the cross-border conflicts affecting their countries, originating from the herds of flocks committed by gangs armed with war weapons. The Bishops have launched an appeal for an action aimed at the progressive disarmament of pastors who live along the borders of the four States, with the involvement of national and local authorities and various civil society organizations.
Peaceful disarmament can only be done in an environment of trust, collaboration and commitment to the respect and protection of human life by the local communities, Civil Society Organizations, Faith-Based Organizations and governments.
While acknowledging the efforts of the governments of Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia in their continuous peace building initiatives both at the national level and across the borders, the Bishops called on the governments in the region to take a lead role in sensitizing the pastoral communities on the need to embrace peaceful co-existence and peaceful disarmament. In particular, "governments should ultimately provide alternative or complementary livelihoods for the citizens living in the conflict affected areas".
Finally, the Bishops reaffirmed their commitment "as Catholic Church in fulfilling our mandate in our work of evangelization and pastoral care. We understand our work as that of transforming the minds and hearts of the members of our communities by speaking to their consciences. We are tasked to uphold respect for human life and promote peaceful co-existence".
As reported by Regional Center for Small Arms (RECSA) the region hosts eight million out of an estimated 36 million small arms and light weapons are in the hands of civilians in the African continent. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 17/5/2019)