TO THE BISHOPS OF MADAGASCAR: THERE IS A CLOSE CONNECTION BETWEEN EVANGELISATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

VATICAN, Holy See, March 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The vitality of the Church in Madagascar despite the difficult circumstances in which this country finds itself and the commitment of the dioceses to human development were some of the central issues in the message Pope Francis addressed to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar at the end of their five-yearly “ad limina” visit.

The Pope thanks the prelates for their “courageous and tenacious work of evangelisation” and acknowledged the serious socio-economic problems encountered in Madagascar, mentioning at the same time that the bishops have urged all of society to contribute to building a new future”. He encouraged them to take their rightful place in the “task of reconstruction, with respect for the rights and duties of each person”. He writes, “It is important to maintain constructive relationships with the authorities of your country. You must search for unity, justice and peace to better serve your people, refusing any involvement in political disputes at the expense of the common good”.

“In this context, I wish to acknowledge the invaluable commitment of your dioceses in social work”, he continues. “Indeed, there is an intimate connection between evangelisation and human development. … I encourage you to persevere in your attention to the poor and materially and spiritually supporting those who devote themselves to them, especially religious congregations, whom I thank with all my heart for their dedication and for their authentic witness to Christ’s love for all men. I also invite you to call out without fear to all Malagasy society, and especially its leaders, with regard to the issue of poverty, which is largely due to corruption and lack of attention to the common good”.

Education is field in which the Church is very active in Madagascar. Therefore, the Pope asks the prelates to do everything in their power to “ensure that the greatest number of children, including those from the poorest families, have access to education, since as a result of economic difficulties many parents no longer have the economic means”. He also urges them to guarantee a Christian presence in public schools, so that Christians occupied in the field of education may “contribute to forming the Gospel and human values in the young generations that will be the leaders of the society to come”.

He goes on to mention that in their message for the end of the Year of Faith the bishops complained of the loss of the true “fihavanana”, a way of life typical of Malgasy culture, which promotes harmony and solidarity, and in relation to this he affirms that “the values that the Creator has instilled in your culture must continue to be transmitted, illuminated from within by the message of the Gospel. The dignity of the human person and the culture of peace, dialogue and reconciliation will find their place in society, leading to a better future”.

The Pope praises the implementation in dioceses throughout Madagascar of “an ambitious and very dynamic programme of formation for life and love”, and emphasises that the family “needs to be protected and defended so that it so that it may offer society the service expected of it, that of providing men and women capable of building a social fabric of peace and harmony”. With regard to challenges in the field of interreligious dialogue, he repeats that it is “urgent to develop, and also at times to initiate, a lucid and constructive dialogue in order to maintain peace between communities and to promote the common good”. He urges the prelates “never to doubt the strength of the Gospel, nor its ability to convert hearts to the resurrected Christ”, reiterating that for this to happen, “it is necessary that Christians bear daily witness to the faith they proclaim”, and for this witness to be credible, “life must be consistent with faith”.

“This invitation”, he continues, “is directed mainly at the clergy and consecrated persons. The priesthood, like consecrated life, is not a means of social climbing, but rather a service to God and to man”. Likewise, he remarks that chastity and obedience are essential virtues for priests and concludes, “The same applies with respect to temporal goods and prudence in their management. Offering a poor example in this area is particularly disastrous because of the scandal it causes, especially before a population that lives in poverty”.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Germany willing to provide air transport for the EU military operation in the Central African Republic

BERLIN, Germany, March 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — To contribute to the success of today’s (28 March) force generation conference in Brussels for the European Union military bridging operation in the Central African Republic (EUFOR CAR), Germany will additionally make available strategic air transport to the country’s capital, Bangui. This key enabler will help the European partners participating in the EU military operation to rapidly move personnel and materiel to the area of operations. Recently, the operation in this civil-war-torn country threatened to fail, due to a lack of such a capability for strategic deployment, that is, airlifting large and heavy cargo over long distances.

Federal Minister von der Leyen:

The humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic is alarming. This makes it all the more important for the EU military operation to strengthen stability and security, so as to prevent violent conflict in the country from taking root and spreading. Rapid airlift of materiel and personnel is a key enabler. A lack thereof has so far prevented establishment of an EU military operation for the Central African Republic. I am very pleased that Germany can help solve this problem, without overstraining the Federal Armed Forces’ airlift capabilities in other operational areas, such as in connection with Afghanistan redeployment.

Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier:

We are prepared to support the planned EU military bridging operation in the Central African Republic. France, among others, has requested temporary assistance from European partners, so as to prevent state structures in the Central African Republic from collapsing entirely, and to achieve initial stabilisation. It is our shared European responsibility to pool all of the capabilities that are required for this. That is why Germany will make available more air transport. This will not require any additional German personnel to be deployed to the area of operations.

For these transport flights to Bangui, the Federal Armed Forces will use Antonov An-124-100 aircraft leased from the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS). Since 2006, Germany has been a party to the contract between the NATO Support Agency (NSPA) and RUSLAN SALIS GmbH, which is headquartered in Leipzig. This will put at the full disposal of the 14 participating nations two aircraft, each with a maximum payload of 150 tons. Germany is currently employing this capability intensively, primarily for follow-on supply to, and redeployment of, the German ISAF contingent in Afghanistan. This cooperation has proven its worth over a long period of time.

Germany remains willing to participate in the EU military bridging operation in the Central African Republic by making available strategic MEDEVAC capabilities, and by providing personnel for the Operation Headquarters (OHQ) in Larissa, as well as for the Force Headquarters (FHQ) in Bangui.

Beyond the air transport that Germany is providing within the framework of the ISAF mission, Germany is already making such a capability available to the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali, as well as, on a bilateral level, to France for its national SANGARIS operation in the Central African Republic.

On 10 February 2014, European Union Foreign Ministers decided to establish an EU military bridging operation in the Central African Republic (EUFOR CAR). The aim, in coordination with international organisations (United Nations, African Union) and other actors, is to mitigate the threat posed by armed groups to the civilian population, and to ease civilian suffering, as well as to help the Central African Republic return to constitutional order. The EUFOR CAR operation plan and rules of engagement were approved on 17 March 2014.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

EU-Africa Summit

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, March 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The fourth EU-Africa summit will take place in Brussels on 2-3 April under the theme “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace”. Building on the spirit of their 2007 Joint

Strategy, Africa and the European Union will discuss as equal partners how to deepen cooperation under these three areas.

Africa and the EU are jointly committed to foster human capital through education and training, to create additional incentives for investment, and to find ways of stimulating growth that will create jobs in particular for young people. They work closely together for peace and security, which are prerequisites for prosperity and growth. .

The European Union will be represented by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso. The summit will bring together the Heads of State and Government of the European Union and the African continent, together with the leaders of the EU and African Union institutions.

A range of high-ranking international observers will also be associated.

“Both Africa and the European Union will come together to address the challenges that each of our continent faces and the ones that face the world as a whole. The theme we have chosen addresses the everyday concerns of our citizens– their safety and security, their job prospects, and their future as families and individuals. I am looking forward to a summit that will further reinforce our partnership and contribute to improve the quality of hope of our population “, said President Van Rompuy. President Barroso ahead of the meeting said: “Fulfilling the vision set out in the Joint

Africa-EU Strategy, the summit will deepen our partnership of equals and seize further cooperation opportunities by expanding political, economic, investment and trade ties.

This includes the pursuit of durable and sustainable economic growth generating jobs for all our citizens”.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

European Parliament – Pan-African Parliament summit to be held in Brussels

STASBOURG, France, March 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — European Parliament will host a summit with the members of the Pan-African Parliament on 31 March and 1 April in room JAN 6Q2. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, and Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi, President of the Pan-African Parliament, will officially open the summit on Monday at 10:30.

The summit will assess the perspectives of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) with experts and prepare a declaration for the 4th EU-Africa summit held in Brussels on 2-3 April 2014.

Venue

European Parliament, József Antall Building, Room 6Q2

31 March 2014 (10:30) – 1 April (12:30)

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

IOM Trains Libyan Civil Society Organizations in Psychosocial Support

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM has completed a three-month project to build capacity and mentor 35 community-based organizations in Tripoli in the field of psychosocial support.

The project, funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), was implemented in partnership with Libya’s Ministry of Culture and Civil Society.

Activities included a mapping and analysis of civil society organizations (CSOs) associated with psychosocial support; the selection of the right organizations, who received a total of eighteen training sessions; and on the job mentoring to ensure that the tools acquired through the training were appropriately applied.

Training topics covered psychosocial support, community conflict mediation, individual and group counselling, capabilities and human development, community-based recreational and social activities, program identity and project cycle planning.

The program aimed to create sustainable linkages between the organizations to help them to work together towards harmony and peace, and meet the many pressing needs in mental health care that continue to plague Libyan society three years on from the revolution.

British Ambassador to Libya Michael Aron noted the need for projects of this type and emphasized the need for ongoing momentum.

“Over 90 participants took part in this demanding program and we were delighted by their enthusiastic desire to support Libyan families in overcoming the psychological burdens that they have carried for so long,” said IOM Libya psychosocial program manager Marcio Gagliato.

Since the revolution and the ensuing conflict, volunteerism has expanded and the number of civil society organizations in Libya has expanded. Many participants are ordinary people committed to breaking the cycle of violence and rebuilding a social fabric destroyed by conflict and decades of suppression of free expression.

The project built on two years of related work carried out by IOM through three community-based centers in Tripoli, Benghazi and Misurata.

To learn more about IOM Libya CSO Capacity Building, please go to http://www.psychosocial-csos.ly/webstep/

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

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