Uganda: missionaries escape dramatic ordeal

 Three Comboni missionaries nearly lost their lives in the war in Uganda last week. Fr Giulio Albanese, editor-in-chief of the Missionary News Service, Fr Tarcisio Pazzaglia and Fr Carlos Rodriguez were caught in the crossfire in a gun battle between government troops and rebels of the LRA (lord's Resistance Army) and then taken prisoner for 24 hours in "unspeakable conditions" by the Ugandan military. Speaking from Kampala on Sunday, Fr Giulio said: "It was a dramatic but illuminating experience. We felt what the people of the northern Ugandan Acholi districts experience on a daily basis. For this reason we must continue our work in giving voice to the voiceless. "In those difficult moments the Lord watched over us in more than one occasion," he said. "There was one moment that I will never forget. Immediately after narrowly surviving the onslaught of bullets, grenades and mortar shots, and fear had gripped also the faces of the soldiers that were circling and threatening us at gun point, I heard my name: 'Father Giulio you are Father Giulio Albanese' - said one of the soldier's looking me straight in the eyes. These words gave me the strength to get up and walk. It was a soldier that had attended my investiture as priest in Kampala," Fr Giulio said. "I hope that our experience serves to inform as many people as possible of the tragedy these people have been living for over 15 years." A MISNA report said the missionaries were concerned that now the priests were safe, "the curtain of silence will fall once again on the violent Ugandan conflict between the government troops and rebels of the LRA (lord's Resistance Army), in which the Acholi populations are the main victims." Fr Pietro Trabucco, general superior of the Institute of Consolata Missions, said the people of Uganda were forgotton by the western media because: "there is no direct interest of Europe or the US." He said the missionary world was called to give testimony to what was happening in Uganda and other parts of Africa - not simply to "pour in charity."

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