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Monday, December 5, 2016
Zimbabwe: Caritas, bishops warn crisis could cost thousands of lives
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¬†"Zimbabwe is on the brink of an avoidable humanitarian crisis that could cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people". This stark warning came in a joint statement issued by the President of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez and Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC, Catholic Bishops of Botswana, South Africa, and Swaziland). In the declaration, they affirm that the suspension of international humanitarian aid activity and spiralling political violence means millions of people are suffering. Caritas members directly feed over a million people in Zimbabwe, and their projects help over three million people. Caritas targets the most vulnerable, women, children and the sick. Caritas has suspended those projects following the ban due to increasing levels insecurity. Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga and Archbishop Tlhagale urge the international community, especially South Africa to press the government of Zimbabwe to reverse the inhumane suspension of international aid efforts and prevent the violent repression of the people. The two Church leaders called the situation shocking and disastrous and were worried that the authorities had got themselves into a situation that they were finding impossible to get out of without worsening the repression. They urged the government to listen to all the religious leaders. The Cardinal said: "That food is being denied to people facing starvation is a grave evil. The government of Zimbabwe must also ensure that aid workers are able to work in a secure environment without threats of violence. The scale of the current political violence and threats is unacceptable. Restrictions on humanitarian workers and increasing violence severely hamper the Church in carrying out its mission to provide care and assistance to those most in need." Archbishop Tlhagale said the situation in Zimbabwe no longer allowed for quiet diplomacy. "Quiet Diplomacy is not feeding people, but allowing the current structures to threaten the very survival of the extremely vulnerable." "this situation is fast losing the Zimbabwe government and those who support it any sympathy that there might have been for their concerns. This post colonial throwback rhetoric by Zimbabwean authorities must cease ≠ let them prove that they have the interests of ordinary Zimbabwean at heart by giving them food." Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga and Archbishop Tlhagale support the latest Zimbabwe bishops' statement that called "for an immediate cessation of violence and all provocative statements and actions" and that the "electoral processes and outcomes are not an excuse for breaching God's commandments." Source: Fides
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