Kenya: Churches launch peace plan for hostile communities

 At an ecumenical prayer meeting on Tuesday at Suguta Mugie in Samburu District of Kenya, about 50 church leaders, community heads and members of the Pokot, Samburu and Turkana communities came up with an eight-point plan to end violent cattle raids that have killed an unknown number of people since April. Only sustained mediation and development not the use of force by State security personnel can restore peace among traditionally hostile herding communities in Kenya's Rift Valley Province, they said. On the same day, at least 18 people were killed during a morning raid in Ol Moran in Laikipia District, not far from the venue of the peace meeting. Government officials told reporters on Thursday that there could be more bodies still lying in the bushes. Tension remained high in the area on Friday for fear of further attacks, Bishop Virgilio Pante of the Catholic Diocese of Maralal told CISA. People were running away from their homes to seek safety elsewhere, he said. The church leaders, including Bishop Pante, pledged to "take all opportunities to preach and instruct without fear in the churches and in the streets about peace, reconciliation, healing and forgiveness in order to create a new culture and awareness among our people." They will also hold regular peace meetings, seek out the raiders and speak to them and contact political leaders and government officials "who often are at the root of the conflicts." Residents named and prayed for traditional religious leaders in their communities who they said organize raids and bless the warriors who are usually armed with guns. Saying they would remain united "not as many churches but as one church of Christ praying together and preaching with courage the same gospel of peace," the church leaders promised to study the causes of the fighting, which they said included: ignorance, traditional beliefs, poverty and lack of infrastructure - and make recommendations to the government. Bishop Pante whose episcopal motto is 'The Ministry of Reconciliation' said the plan by church leaders was a significant development because people trust the Church. "The government is clearly not able to control this situation; the people have lost hope," the bishop said. "But the church is still a neutral ground, where all people come together because of one God and their belief that Jesus Christ can heal the situation." Source: CISA

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