Sep 162014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — WHO welcomes the commitment from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to dispatch a mobile laboratory team to Sierra Leone to enhance the laboratory testing capacity for Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the country.

The contribution comes in response to WHO’s appeal for further assistance to Ebola response efforts in Africa and requests by the government of Sierra Leone. In addition to laboratory experts, the 59-person team from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control will include epidemiologists, clinicians and nurses. They will support Ebola response efforts at the China-Sierra Leone Friendship Hospital, which was built in 2012 with assistance from the Chinese Government.

“The most urgent immediate need in the Ebola response is for more medical staff,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “The newly announced team will join 115 Chinese medical staff on the ground in Sierra Leone virtually since the beginning. This is a huge boost, morally and operationally.”

The WHO Ebola response roadmap, released on 28 August, highlights the need for a massively scaled response to support affected countries. The commitment from the Chinese Government exemplifies the kind of international effort required to intensify response activities and strengthen national capacities.

Sep 152014
 

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Remarks

Frank A. Rose

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance

Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH)

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

September 8, 2014

Thank you so much for having me here today.

It is an honor to be here at COSTECH and to have the opportunity to speak with you. This is my first time visiting Tanzania, so it is a real pleasure to be with you today.

I’m also particularly pleased to be here in following the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. As you know, last month, President Obama welcomed leaders from across this continent to Washington for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first such event of its kind. The President also welcomed outstanding young African leaders who had been participating in the Young African Leaders Initiatives.

These meetings built on the President’s visit to Africa in the summer of 2013 and helped strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions.

The theme of the Summit was “Investing in the Next Generation.” I’m here today to continue to discuss that theme and to once again underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa cooperation.

Specifically, I would like to talk to you about the importance of space to African nations and our work of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the outer space environment.

It is critical that we work together to preserve and protect outer space for the next generation so countries like Tanzania can continue to utilize space applications for sustainable development on Earth.

Why Space Matters to Africa

Outer space and space assets – like satellites – provide value to countries and peoples around the world. Space systems provide tremendous benefits to the health and development of African nations, even those without space programs or satellites. As you know, space has real benefits for countries like Tanzania as well as all of Africa.

First, space is about connecting people.

Navigation satellite systems and satellite communications help us navigate the globe and connect and communicate with people around the world. Mobile phones, GPS, and television broadcasts all rely on space systems to connect us to distant places and people. For example, if you’ve ever used a cell phone in a remote area, you may have used a satellite to connect your call.

Second, space is about health.

Many countries in Africa and around the world suffer shortages of doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, and facilities. Recently, many nations have been turning to space systems to help deal with this issue. For example, the European Space Agency, through the “Satellite African eHealth validation” program, is providing telemedicine services through satellite technology. This program connects remote regions in Sub-Saharan Africa with hospitals in larger cities for medical services and education.

Third, space is about education.

Space assets can be utilized to provide access to all levels of education to students that might not otherwise have access. African nations are working with other nations around the world to provide a variety of tele-education services by connecting leading African and foreign universities to remote classrooms.

Fourth, space is about collecting critical information.

African nations utilize Earth observation data for a variety of activities, including disaster monitoring and resource management. For example, Kenya hosts a UN Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) which utilizes data from American Earth observation satellites to respond to requests from member States for crop monitoring, water conditions, and disaster warning. The RCMRD also hosts the East Africa node of the SERVIR program, a joint venture between NASA and USAID which provides satellite-based Earth observation data and science applications to help developing nations improve their environmental decision making.

Fifth, like the goal of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit said, space is about investing in the next generation.

Active space sciences and astronomy programs also can encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math studies. As a part of the NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge, the Agency is currently discussing opportunities for the government of South Africa to contribute to the global search for hazardous Near-Earth Objects as a means of boosting South Africa’s focus on human capital development.

Sixth, space is about growth and development here on Earth.

Space technology and its applications, such as Earth observation systems, meteorological satellites, communication satellites and global navigation systems make significant contributions to achieving sustainable development in Africa.

In fact, during the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil in June 2012, delegations from around the world specifically recognized the importance of space-technology-based data and reliable geospatial information for sustainable development and recognized the need to support developing countries in their efforts to collect environmental data.

Space technology can be useful for nations with rapidly growing populations. In India, the government uses satellite imagery to help with city planning, especially those cities undergoing massive demographic changes.

Many people around the world are also using space assets to help with forest management. Satellite companies and foreign governments are making satellite imagery available to other governments and NGOs so that they can more effectively track changes and monitor land use.

Additionally, commercial ventures, relying on emerging small and microsatellite technologies, offer the potential for even wider access to critical earth observation information.

The use of space technology benefits Africa and its peoples in various ways. Space applications offer effective tools for connecting people around the world, monitoring and conducting assessments of the environment, managing the use of natural resources, managing responses to natural disasters and providing education and health services in remote areas.

How Africa Can Work Together on Space

These and countless other examples make clear that space is critical to the developing countries, including those in Africa. The number of African nations with their own space agencies and/or satellites continues to grow. African nations are more reliant on space applications than ever before to ensure their sustainable development. However, in order to continue utilizing these essential space applications, we need to preserve the outer space environment.

The long-term sustainability of space activities is at serious risk from space debris and from irresponsible actors and their actions. This summer, that risk became even clearer. On July 23, the Chinese Government conducted a non-destructive test of a missile designed to destroy satellites in low Earth orbit. Despite China’s claims that this was not an anti-satellite weapon, or ASAT, test, let me assure you the United States has high confidence in its assessment. That event was indeed an ASAT test.

Irresponsible acts against space systems do not just harm the space environment, but they also disrupt services that the citizens, companies, and governments around the world depend on. Ensuring the long-term sustainability, stability, safety, and security of the space environment is in the vital interests of the United States, African nations, and the entire global community.

As African nations benefit more and more from space, and many begin to own satellites, it’s our hope that African nations will play an active role in developing international “best practices” of responsible behavior, such as discussions on the draft International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

Threats to Outer Space

The utilization of space for sustainable development is not unique to Africa; nations and peoples around the globe now recognize the benefits that space applications have to offer. Today, approximately 60 nations, international organizations, and government consortia operate satellites. There are also numerous commercial and academic satellite operators.

This evolution in the use of outer space has greatly benefited society and has brought people around the world closer together, but it also presents challenges. As more countries and people benefit from space applications and the demand for satellite use has grown, the orbital environment has become increasingly congested.

Today, the orbits close to Earth, where most of our operations are conducted, are increasingly littered with debris. The U.S. is currently tracking tens of thousands of pieces of space debris 10 centimeters or larger in various Earth orbits. Experts warn that the current quantity and density of man-made debris significantly increases the odds of future damaging collisions. I strongly believe it is in our individual and collective interest that all spacefaring nations work to maintain the sustainability of the space environment, so that we can continue to reap the developmental benefits that space provides here on Earth.

Code of Conduct

Perhaps one of the most beneficial actions we can take for ensuring sustainability and security in space would be adopting of an International Code of Conduct. The United States is working with the European Union and other nations to develop an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

An International Code of Conduct, if adopted, would help prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust in space by establishing guidelines to reduce the risks of debris-generating events, including collisions. As more countries field space capabilities, it is in all of our interests to work together to establish internationally accepted “rules of the road” to ensure that the safety and sustainability of space is protected. We strongly encourage all African nations to participate in the development of the International Code of Conduct and rules of responsible behavior in space.

Conclusion

When President Obama addressed the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, he said this:

“I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world – partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children.”

Space plays a major role in facilitating those connections, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be with you today to discuss the benefits of space and how we can utilize its power to strengthen the future for generations to come.

Thank you very much.

Sep 152014
 

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Statement by EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva and EU Commissioner for Health, Tonio Borg, following the High Level Event to coordinate the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa:

The EU is gravely concerned by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, where the situation continues to deteriorate. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and the dedicated healthcare workers who are doing their utmost to fight the spread of the virus and take care of the victims. Today, we have discussed with EU Ministers how to coordinate further steps in a Europe-wide response to the epidemic.

We welcome the contributions made already by our EU Member States through the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism. We call on them to continue and strengthen their support to the region in order to respond to pressing needs such as effective treatment centres, sufficient numbers of health workers, and ensuring macro-economic stability. We will also do our utmost to align to the priorities identified and coordinated by the WHO.

The EU has increased its response on several occasions since the outbreak of the epidemic and has so far pledged almost €150 million to help the affected countries. This includes ensuring treatment for infected patients and measures to contain the epidemic, as well as strengthening health care systems and improving food security, water and sanitation. EU mobile laboratories are deployed in the region to help with the diagnostics and confirmation of cases and train laboratory technicians. Furthermore, Liberia and Sierra Leone will receive financial assistance through budget support to help them deliver health care services and bolster macro-economic stability in response to wider economic challenges arising from the crisis.

The EU is firmly committed to supporting the affected countries and their development in the immediate and longer-term.

Today’s meeting has reaffirmed our partnership and solidarity with West Africa. We also discussed actions to facilitate transport in and out of the region.

We welcome the participation of the UN at this meeting, laying out efforts for international coordination, notably through the establishment of operational platforms. These efforts deserve our full support, and provide the appropriate backbone to deliver the European Comprehensive response to the Ebola crisis.

We agreed on the crucial importance of reliable systems of medical evacuation for humanitarian staff and medical workers in the affected countries so as to maintain an effective international response on the ground. To this end, we agreed to launch work without delay on developing a European co-ordination mechanism for medical evacuations. Participants at the meeting expressed their appreciation for a proposal from France which could form the basis of further discussion on such a mechanism.

Despite the low risk of the virus circulating within EU countries, the need to continue working on preparedness and coordination of risk management was also stressed.

Sep 152014
 

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

September 15, 2014

I am pleased to announce that we are resuming operations at our embassy in Bangui. The people and leaders of the Central African Republic have made progress in ending the violence and putting their nation on a path toward peace and stability. But we all know that much work remains to be done.

That’s why I asked David Brown to serve as Chargé d’Affaires and to work closely with the transitional government, as well as our international friends and partners, to advance a peaceful, democratic and inclusive political transition. And that’s why, on his arrival in Bangui, we announced an additional $28 million in U.S. humanitarian funding, bringing the U.S. total to $145.7 million this year alone.

With the September 15 transition to the UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, we extend our profound thanks to the African Union, its force-contributing countries, as well as the French and European forces, for their important contributions to peace and stability in the Central African Republic. We call on all parties to fully support the UN mission in its vital task ahead as it takes over from the African Union mission. And as we reopen our embassy, I want to thank our dedicated Central African colleagues for their service during these difficult 21 months.

Only a fully inclusive, peaceful, and democratic political transition process can stop the cycle of violence in the Central African Republic. That process must include the voices of all Central Africans, especially refugees and internally displaced persons. It must end impunity and give all citizens access to justice while holding those who have committed abuses accountable for their actions. And it must lead to free and fair elections that give all Central Africans a stake in the future of their country.

The Central African Republic and its people are at a crucial juncture. The United States is determined to help make this moment of opportunity a success.

Sep 152014
 

ROME, Italy, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Includes new figures on the number of hungry people in the world, key lessons from individual countries on food security and nutrition.

On Tuesday 16 September at 10:00h Rome-time, the three Rome-based UN food agencies – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) – will launch the new edition of the annual The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) report.

The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2014) is published jointly by FAO, IFAD and WFP.

This year’s edition of SOFI presents new estimates on the number and proportion of chronically undernourished people in the world and also reports on progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and World Food Summit (WFS) hunger targets.

The report also examines seven case studies – Bolivia, Brazil, Haiti, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi, Yemen – that highlight diverse experiences in creating an enabling environment to improve impact on hunger and malnutrition.

The new SOFI and its main findings will be presented at a news conference at FAO’s headquarters, which will be webcast live at http://www.fao.org/webcast/

The report will also be available online from 10:00 at http://www.fao.org/publications/sofi/en/

WHO: José Graziano da Silva – Director-General, FAO

Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, WFP

John McIntire, Associate Vice-President on behalf of President Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD

WHAT: News conference to present 2014 edition of the UN’s

annual world hunger report

WHEN: Tuesday 16 September 2014, 10:00h CET

WHERE: Sheikh Zayed Media Centre, FAO headquarters

Rome, Italy | Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, corner with Viale Aventino. Metro stop Circo Massimo.

Accreditation will take place at the main FAO visitor’s entry kiosk. A valid press card or letter of assignment on company stationery, plus picture ID, required.

Webcast: http://www.fao.org/webcast/

Twitter hashtags: #UNFAO #SOFI2014 #foodsecurity #foodinsecurity #hunger

Twitter accounts: @faonews, @faoknowledge, @IFADnews @WFP, @WFP_media

Sep 152014
 

PRETORIA, South-Africa, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Special Envoy Said Djinnit completed a two-day visit to South Africa, as part of his first tour of signatory countries of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and the region. The Special Envoy met with Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and Minister of State Security, Mr. David Mahlobo.

“South Africa is a crucial regional partner. South African troops in the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade in DRC play a vital role in maintaining stability in eastern DRC, and I commend the dedication of South African men and women to this fundamental task. As a signatory country to the PSC Framework, South Africa further helps establish key linkages between the ICGLR and SADC and spur regional cooperation on priority issues under the Framework”, Mr. Djinnit said.

Special Envoy Djinnit and South African officials discussed progress in the implementation of the PSC Framework, focusing in particular on neutralization of negative forces, and the need to strengthen regional relations. “I am pleased with the constructive discussions I had and the support I received in South Africa for my mandate. I look forward to working closely with the Government of South Africa, as a PSC Framework signatory country and Chair of the SADC Organ for Politics, Defence and Security, to make progress on some of the most urgent issues we face under the Framework, such as the FDLR. I am also pleased with South Africa’s pledge of support for an upcoming Great Lakes Private Sector Investment Conference, which shows a shared long-term vision under the PSC Framework towards lasting peace and greater economic development for the region”, according to Mr. Djinnit.

Sep 152014
 

DAKAR, Senegal, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Ten African journalists, including three in Kenya, two in Ethiopia, two in South Africa, one in Burkina Faso, one in Ghana, and one in Rwanda, have been selected as finalists in the 2014 APO Media Award (#APOMediaAward) (http://www.apo-opa.com/apo-media-award.php).

Logo APO: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/apo-african-press-organization-small.png

Photos of the finalists: http://bit.ly/1qOdGN1

APO Media Award celebrates brilliant and inspiring stories about Africa. Stories are judged on content, writing, analysis, creativity, human interest and community impact.

2014 APO Media Award Finalists are:

Aimable Twahirwa (@atwahirwa) – Rwanda

“Tech Entrepreneur Encourages Rwanda’s Young Women to Venture into ICT” (http://bit.ly/1ogmYkJ)

Andualem Sisay Gessesse (@andualemsisay ) – Ethiopia

“The new face of agriculture in arid Ethiopia?” (http://bit.ly/1pALjMX)

Claire Muthinji (@cmuthinji) – Kenya

“Maintaining a strong saving culture in Africa” (http://bit.ly/Wpv6mE)

Elias Gebreselassie Woldegebriel (@EliasGebre) – Ethiopia

“For Ethiopia, wildlife protection makes economic and climate sense” (http://tmsnrt.rs/ZcpUEK)

Félix Dela Klutse (@felixklutse) – Ghana

“Unlocking the potential of agribusiness in Africa” (http://bit.ly/1pAM60f)

Inoussa Maiga (@MaigaInou) – Burkina Faso

“La révolution mobile au Sahel” (http://bit.ly/1AiJRF2)

Kristia Van Heerden (@k_r_isis) – South Africa

“How the poor can make you rich” (http://bit.ly/ZcqRgm)

Peter Kahare (@PeterKahare) – Kenya

“In Saving a Forest, Kenyans Find a Better Quality of Life ” (http://bit.ly/1qp3PJh)

Pius Sawa (@kharunda) – Kenya

“Cheap, green solar bottles light up Kenyan slum” (http://tmsnrt.rs/1rNAlco)

Sumitra Nydoo (@sumitranydoo) – South Africa

“South Africa’s Wonderbag Revolutionizes Cooking” (http://bit.ly/1qvB9SW)

The three winners will be announced on 29 September 2014.

The first-place winner will be presented with $500 a month for one year, one laptop and one intercontinental flight ticket to a destination of his or her choice as well as one year of access to over 600 airport VIP lounges worldwide.

The second-place winner will be awarded $300 a month for one year.

The third-place winner will receive $200 a month for one year.

Follow APO on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apo_source

Follow the hashtag: #APOMediaAward

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization).

Contact:

award@apo-opa.org

+41 22 534 96 97

About APO

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Sep 152014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Situation assessment – 12 September 2014

The situation in Senegal, which confirmed its first case of Ebola virus disease on 29 August, remains stable. To date, 67 close contacts of the initial case have been identified and monitored twice daily.

2 of these contacts who developed symptoms were tested for Ebola. Test results were negative. An additional 3 suspected cases across the country were also tested, with negative results.

Starting from 29 August, forty-two days – twice the maximum incubation period – must pass with good surveillance in place and no additional cases reported, before WHO can declare Senegal transmission-free.

However, intense virus transmission in other countries within the sub-region creates a high risk that Senegal will experience additional introductions of Ebola cases.

Responding to the outbreak

The investigation in Senegal benefits from the presence of an Institut Pasteur laboratory in Dakar, where the initial case was identified. This WHO-approved collaborating centre has excellent facilities and staff.

Work undertaken by the Ministry of Health has been supported from the start by two senior WHO epidemiologists, senior staff from Doctors without Borders (MSF), and a team from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All have extensive experience responding to previous outbreaks of Ebola virus disease and the related Marburg haemorrhagic fever.

Optimism about the further evolution of the outbreak in Senegal is justified but must be tempered with several cautions and reservations.

Preventing further transmission of Ebola

As in every outbreak investigation, doubts remain about whether all contacts have been identified. Aggressive efforts to identify additional contacts continue, aiming to ensure that no one has been missed.

As elsewhere, the investigation and response teams face difficulties in keeping close contacts in isolation for the 21-day monitoring period.

Contacts have remained in their homes, usually with their families, where they are checked twice daily for symptoms and tested if symptoms develop. Some contacts have resisted monitoring, but none has been lost to follow-up.

Although Senegal has banned all flights from other affected countries, road travellers from Guinea and elsewhere can cross the country’s porous borders. WHO has repeatedly advised countries not to issue travel bans, which are ineffective and needlessly disruptive.

The history of Senegal’s initial case, who arrived in Dakar by road on 20 August, reveals multiple opportunities for high-risk exposure. Continued high-level vigilance is essential; the risk of similar imported cases remains high.

Fortunately, the initial case has now fully recovered; his last 2 blood samples have tested negative for Ebola virus. He will be released soon from hospital, raising questions about his reintegration into a social situation characterized by high yet irrational fear and widespread misinformation about the risk of Ebola transmission for the general population.

Scientists do not fully understand why some Ebola patients recover and others succumb. Prior to the current outbreak, Ebola was considered a rare disease and clinical information is limited.

Some anecdotal case reports from the current outbreak in west Africa suggest that age and the presence of comorbidities are associated with a poor prognosis.

To support the global response to the current outbreak in west Africa, Senegal has agreed to open a humanitarian corridor to facilitate the transport and delivery of international personnel and supplies to affected countries.

Sep 122014
 

PRETORIA, South-Africa, September 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Special Envoy Said Djinnit completed a two-day visit to South Africa, as part of his first tour of signatory countries of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and the region. The Special Envoy met with Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and Minister of State Security, Mr. David Mahlobo.

“South Africa is a crucial regional partner. South African troops in the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade in DRC play a vital role in maintaining stability in eastern DRC, and I commend the dedication of South African men and women to this fundamental task. As a signatory country to the PSC Framework, South Africa further helps establish key linkages between the ICGLR and SADC and spur regional cooperation on priority issues under the Framework”, Mr. Djinnit said.

Special Envoy Djinnit and South African officials discussed progress in the implementation of the PSC Framework, focusing in particular on neutralization of negative forces, and the need to strengthen regional relations. “I am pleased with the constructive discussions I had and the support I received in South Africa for my mandate. I look forward to working closely with the Government of South Africa, as a PSC Framework signatory country and Chair of the SADC Organ for Politics, Defence and Security, to make progress on some of the most urgent issues we face under the Framework, such as the FDLR. I am also pleased with South Africa’s pledge of support for an upcoming Great Lakes Private Sector Investment Conference, which shows a shared long-term vision under the PSC Framework towards lasting peace and greater economic development for the region”, according to Mr. Djinnit.

Sep 122014
 

VATICAN, Holy See, September 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The education of young people in order to overcome violence and inequality, the participation of the Church in building society and the consolidation of peace and her mission in aid of “those whom life has wounded” were the main issues in the discourse Pope Francis handed to the bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit.

“The Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a young Church”, writes the Holy Father. “However, it is also a Church of youth. Children and adolescents, in particular, need God’s strength to help them resist the many temptations of a precarious life in which they are unable to study or find work. I am sympathetic to their plight, and I know you share their sorrows, their joys and hopes. I think with horror especially of those children and young people conscripted into militias and forced to kill their own countrymen. I encourage you, therefore, to pursue the pastoral care of youth. By providing the greatest assistance possible, especially through the creation of spaces for human, spiritual and professional formation, you can help them discover their deepest vocation that predisposes them to encounter the Lord”.

“The most effective way to overcome violence, inequality and ethnic divisions is to equip the young with a critical mind and to offer them the opportunity to mature an understanding of Gospel values. It is also necessary to strengthen pastoral care in universities and in Catholic and public schools, combining education with the clear proclamation of the Gospel. … Similarly, to face the problem of family breakdown, caused in particular by war and poverty, it is essential to promote and encourage all initiatives to strengthen the family, the source of brotherhood and the foundation and first road to peace”.

“Fidelity to the Gospel also implies that the Church participates in the construction of the city. One of the most valuable contributions that the local church can offer your country is to help people rediscover the relevance of faith in daily life and the need to promote the common good. Similarly, leading figures in the nation, enlightened by pastors and in relation to their skills, can also be supported in incorporating Christian teachings in their personal lives and in the exercise of their duties in the service of the state and society. In this sense, the Magisterium of the Church, especially the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, the post-Synodal apostolic exhortation “Africae munus” and the recent apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium”, are invaluable tools”.

The Pope urges the Congolese bishops to “work tirelessly for the establishment of a just and lasting peace through a pastoral of dialogue and reconciliation among the various sectors of society, supporting the process of disarmament, and promoting effective collaboration with other religious denominations”. He emphasises that at this time, when the country is currently experiencing political events that are important for the future, “it is necessary for the Church to make her contribution, avoiding the risk of becoming substitute for political institutions and temporal realities that must retain their autonomy”. In particular, pastors must be careful not to take on roles that rightfully belong to the lay faithful, whose mission is justly that of bearing witness to Christ and the Gospel in politics and in all other areas of their activities”.

After highlighting the need for collaboration between all pastoral workers in the various fields of the apostolate, especially in education, health and charitable aid, Francis reminds the prelates that there are high expectations of them “in defence of spiritual and social values”, and he urges them to “provide guidance and solutions for the promotion of a society based on respect for the dignity of the human person”. In this regard, “attention to the poor and needy, as well as the elderly, the sick and disabled, should be the subject of adequate pastoral care under constant review”. Indeed, “the Church is called to be concerned with the wellbeing of these people and to bring the attention of society and public authorities to their situation”.

The Holy Father concludes by encouraging the bishops to be “men of hope for the people” and gave thanks for the work of all missionaries, priests, religious and other pastoral workers dedicated to the service of “those who have been wounded by life, the victims of violence, especially in the most isolated and remote areas of the country”, and reserved special mention for “the internally displaced and the many people who come from neighbouring countries”.