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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MORE THAN TWO MILLION DOLLARS IN AID TO SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA


Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The administrative council of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel (the sub-Saharan region of Africa which includes countries on the west coast and central part of the continent) recently concluded its thirtieth meeting in Rome.

Speaking on Vatican Radio, Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", of which the foundation is part, explained that the administrative council had focused its attention on the financing of a number of projects. "This year", he said, "we have assigned over two million dollars for more than 200 projects in the nine countries which make up the foundation. These projects involve the struggle against desertification and drought, as well as irrigation and education".

Msgr. Dal Toso noted that the re-emergence of the problem of drought in the Sahel highlights the urgency of the measures taken. The lack of food resulting from the impact of drought on agriculture "will reach its peak in the coming months. ... Both the international community and, more specifically, a number of Catholic organisations are seeking to intervene to prevent this crisis, he said.

The secretary of "Cor Unum" pointed out that the Church represents a minority in the countries of the Sahel. "In some cases a truly minuscule minority, in an environment characterised by the presence of Islam and of traditional religions". For this reason the John Paul II Foundation also serves as "an instrument of dialogue with other religions. ... As the Pope's teaching has recently been highlighting, faith is expressed in works, and what we manage to express through charity seeks in its own small way ... to bear witness to Christ".

The John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel came into being following that Pope's first trip to Africa in May 1980, where he was greatly struck by the tragic consequences of desertification. The foundation was established with a Chirograph on 22 February 1984, and is actively involved in managing and protecting natural resources, in the struggle against drought and desertification, in rural development and in the fight against poverty, through the involvement of local people.

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