Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bishop Bertin: we must continue to respond to the tragedies of Somalia

Vatican Radio
Thursday, December 19, 2013 
Somalia, on the tip of the horn of Africa, is widely seen as a nation ravaged by drought and conflict, at the top of the global corruption index, home to gangs of warlords who sabotage humanitarian aid efforts and one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists and aid workers. 

But a September conference in Brussels, the third of its kind, aimed to focus the attention of the international community on the progress made in Somalia over the last year as well as mobilize resources for the one-year-old Somali regime and assist it in the country's reconstruction.

The conference set out a plan for Somalia's reconstruction and has been successful in receiving over 815 million US dollars in financial pledges.

Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab Islamist militia have abandoned their posts in Mogadishu spurring hope that the new government will guarantee a more efficient management of food aid, with the support of the international community and the protection of African Union forces.

Vatican Radio's Linda Bordoni asked Bishop Giorgio Bertin of Djibouti, Apostolic Administrator of Somalia's only Catholic diocese, Mogadishu, if life has improved for ordinary Somalis…

Bishop Bertin says that life is returning to Somalia very slowly, however, he says, although there is a sense of hope “the enemies of hope, the enemies of peace, the enemies of reconciliation are still there”.

The Bishop says that “the answer is that we should be more perseverant than the evil forces. Those who opt for life, for hope, for respect should be more determined and persevering than those who are against it”.

Bertin says that Pope Francis's option for the poor is a great source of inspiration for him. “It reminds of our engagement for the poor, an engagement that should be intelligent in the sense that we should find out the economic, political and not only humanitarian ways to come out of extreme poverty”..

He says it is also about keeping awareness high and points out that Somalia is a forgotten nation, in the news only when a tragic event hits the headlines.

But Bishop Bertin says “our response to the tragedies of Somalia should be able to go beyond what makes the news, to the ordinary life of people. We should make an effort to put ordinary lives, ordinary situations, ordinary hopes the ordinary difficulties of people more on the frontline”.

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