Skip to main content

Holy See's Address on Africa's Problems

"Disaster Is Being Created"

GENEVA, MARCH 15, 2005 (Zenit - This is the text of the address that Monsignor Fortunatus Nwachukwu gave last Thursday at the 32nd meeting of the Standing Committee of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The text was released today.

Monsignor Nwachukwu is nunciature counselor at the Holy See's permanent observer mission to the United Nations at Geneva.

* * *

Mr. Chairperson, the refugee situation in Africa remains a deep scar on the human family everywhere. The precarious and tragic condition of these millions of persons forcibly uprooted from their villages and their lands calls for concrete and prompt decisions to alleviate their suffering and to protect their rights. The international community should no longer delay an already overdue response. Such a delay would imply acceptance of a double standard in solidarity at the expenses of the voiceless and most marginalized people.

Some positive signs were given in the past year when voluntary and organized repatriation of refugees had started to normalize life for tens of thousand of them. But the whole process is clouded now by insufficient funding and by the worsening of violence and ill treatment of the displaced population of Darfur (Sudan) where the humanitarian situation is critical. Systematic attacks on the civil populations, the destruction of infrastructures and entire villages and the elimination of livestock and crops lead to a widespread displacement of the civilian population. The attacks are brutal and violent and human rights violations are a daily occurrence. Particularly vulnerable are women subjected to rape and other forms of degradation. An environmental disaster is being created that [] will take years to restore.

The various U.N. reports are quite clear and forceful and describe many of the events as crimes against humanity and/or war crimes, "not less serious and heinous than genocide."1

If a person is lucky, he or she becomes a refugee by crossing the border and ends up in a refugee camp in Chad, where protection and some relative safety may be provided. If individuals and families stay behind, they end up by joining one of the largest internally displaced populations in the world, often at high risk and where security cannot be guaranteed. The African Union military monitors are insufficient in number; they lack the necessary logistical support and can hardly let their presence be felt. The Sudanese authorities do not seem able or be in a position to protect the rights of their own people.

One has to conclude that the protection needs for the people remaining in Darfur are hardly met, despite the courageous presence and assistance of the UNHCR, of other U.N. agencies, of so many NGOs. Still the total victimized and displaced population cannot be reached.

Mr. Chairperson, confronted by such a complex situation, a strong U.N. leadership and an overall coordination by one agency of external assistance and protection to IDP camps and other places of their concentration appear urgent.

Here lies an international responsibility which points directly to us, to the human family of nations. The broader question should again be raised: What institution will be structurally responsible for the protection of IDPs? As [an] international community we should develop a reliable system which effectively protects those staying in their own country, but displaced from their homes.

The Holy See delegation encourages a further development of a clearer system of responsibility for IDPs, while realizing that this involvement in protection and human rights issues will require larger human and financial resources and, above all, the political will to act, to intervene and take the arms off the hands of aggressors. The longer the delay to act, the greater the risk of more uprooted and abused people and of undermining hard-achieved peace agreements.

The way forward is to stop the flow of arms into the conflict, to hold individuals accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity, to take action now and give new hope to Africa and to all refugees.


1 Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the United Nations Secretary-General. Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1564 of 18 September 2004. Geneva, 25 January 2005


Catholic Online  CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Africa, Holy See, Nwachukwu, Refugee, Human, Family, Rights

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article


Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 3:1-10
The word of Yahweh was addressed to Jonah a second time. 'Up!' ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 7-8
[Song of Ascents] From the depths I call to you, Yahweh: Lord, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 10:38-42
In the course of their journey he came to a village, and a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 6 Saint of the Day

St. Bruno
October 6: Bruno was born in Cologne of the prominent Hartenfaust family. ... Read More