Social justice news
February 1 , 2008

Kenya: Catholic aid organizations call for end of political violence
VATICAN, January 29, 2008 (CISA ) -The President of Caritas Internationalis Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez and the President of Caritas Africa Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga said today that all sides in Kenya must work to stop the violence.

The appeal comes after fresh killings in the once-stable east African country, including a Catholic priest in the Rift Valley.

Fr Michael Kamau Ithondeka, 41, was killed Saturday morning at an illegal roadblock set up by armed youth on the Nakuru - Eldama Ravine Road. He was vice rector at St Mathias Mulumba Senior Seminary in Tindinyo.

At least 800 people have been killed in the violence sparked by disputed general election results in December, while 250,000 people had been made homeless before the latest round of inter-tribal fighting over the weekend.

Cardinal Rodriguez and Archbishop Lwanga said in the joint appeal, “Already too many Kenyans have been killed or lost their homes. We mourn the murder of Fr Michael Ithondeka among the many others who have lost their lives needlessly.

“Surely these deaths must act as a wake-up call to the political leadership to do all it can to pull Kenya away from the brink. Already it will take years to rebuild the country, but it is not too late to prevent a catastrophe. Kenya’s government and opposition parties must take immediate steps to seek a peaceful solution, supporting all attempts at dialogue to end the crisis.

“All Kenyans must condemn these killings and the criminals who carried them out. There can be no justification for the killing of innocents. The Kenyan bishops have called for an immediate cessation of violence and of situations which lead to violence, including the organization of demonstrations and also the excessive use of force by the police and military.

“Kenyans must seek forgiveness from each other. Kenyans must look around them, at the conflicts in Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, and ask themselves if they want to bring on further suffering. That is what will happen if they continue along this road. It is not yet too late to find peace but that hour is approaching.”

Caritas at the grass roots is engaged delivering humanitarian aid to help those driven from their homes by the violence. The Caritas appeal aims to help 30,000 people in Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces.

Caritas Internationalis is an umbrella organisation of 162 national Catholic aid agencies. Caritas Africa represents all 45 African members.

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