By Robin Gomes
The Holy See is calling the international community to greater collaboration and truly effective and collective engagement with local populations of Africa to put its “incredible resources”, both human and natural, to good use and build peace and security in the continent.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York made the call on Tuesday during an open debate at the Security Council on peace and security in Africa.
The Vatican diplomat particularly drew attention to the young people and the natural resources of Africa. He said the young and vibrant populations of Africa deserve better access to quality education and to decent work so as to realize their great potential, thus enabling these young men and women to be key players in building up their own countries and taking their rightful place as future leaders.
Without schooling or formation of any kind, Archbishop Auza pointed out, young people are without prospects and become
The Filipino archbishop also said that “the abundant natural resources in Africa become a curse when their exploitation does not benefit the people, and worse when wars and conflicts are exacerbated or even artificially provoked to provide a smokescreen for illicit and abusive exploitation of those precious resources.”
In this regard, he recalled Pope Francis who noted that “there are powers who seek only to take the great wealth of Africa … but they don’t think about helping it to grow.”
Drawing attention to the situation of peace and security in Africa, Archbishop Auza said that the UN’s peacekeeping missions in the continent are engaged in the “arduous task” of re-establishing peace, protecting civilians, facilitating political processes and building bridges with a view to restoring justice and laying the foundations for lasting stability.
The Vatican diplomat regretted that the good works of these men and women in ‘blue helmets’ are at times destroyed by the enemies of peace. Africa’s armed groups and terrorist organizations that are often manipulated by political machinations from within or from without the borders of their country, he said, cause chaos to reign.
The Holy See called on the international community to collaborate and invest more on peacekeeping in Africa saying that while significant financial resources are devoted to Africa in terms of development programmes, the cost of peacekeeping represents only a minuscule portion of the world’s military spending.