Archbishop Sentamu urges G20 to invest more in conflict prevention

 Dr John Sentamu, the Anglican Archbishop of York, has called upon the leaders of the G20 to invest more in conflict prevention.

Delivering his key note address in Westminster yesterday, at the launch of the Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention and Human Security, Dr. Sentamu reflected on his recent experience visiting refugee camps in Kenya after last year's civil unrest and spoke of the urgent need for both conflict prevention and human security:

"Without human security the continuing tragedies that we see unfolding in Darfur and Zimbabwe will continue whilst populations outraged at these daily acts of inhumanity wonder why their own Governments have been reduced to inaction as these conflicts continue with their increasing human cost.

"It is this moral imperative that is aroused in each of us as we bear witness to inhumanity and cry out for justice. Each year thousands of people are losing their lives or face displacement and loss of their homes around the world because of violent conflicts.

"A blatant disregard for human rights is accompanied by stories of brutality and evil. Children being robbed of their innocence and having it replaced with a gun or a machete as they are forced into militias. Women and girls being systematically raped and murdered as part of a conflict plan. Unarmed civilians being shot on the orders of commanders.

"All sense of human worth and dignity is lost in these most brutal conflicts. The underlying essential truth that each of us is created in the image of the Divine and that, as carriers of God's image, each one of us needs to be treated with love, care and respect is a truth denied and violated in each of these conflicts. Each one of us is a stand-in for God. In the killing fields of our world, God is being violated and blasphemed".

The Archbishop urged the leaders of the G20 to consider the link between economic insecurity and conflict in some of the world's poorest countries:

"Last year, the World Bank was forced to issue a statement warning that 33 countries faced serious upheaval and violence due to rising food insecurity. This is likely to intensify as we see increasing pressure on water, food and land, due to climate change and displacements of people through poverty and war.

"So we need to act and act decisively now. That is why this Parliamentarians Network on Conflict Prevention and Human Security is calling on members of the G20 to take the lead in creating a culture of prevention by properly resourcing conflict prevention.

"The UN has stated that the 'biggest source of inefficiency in our collective security institutions has simply been an unwillingness to get serious about preventing deadly violence'. This indifference has gone on long enough. We need to act now.

"I believe that conflict prevention is an imperative on economic, humanitarian and perhaps most importantly moral grounds.

"The UK Government is committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and through the lead of the Prime Minister it has committed substantial investment to help countries to develop their schools, health service and infrastructure. However conflict can serve to rob us of these achievements if the causes of conflict are not addressed and prevented. Conflict Prevention is far more cost effective than trying to solve conflicts once they have broken out".

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