Congo’s bishops welcome cease-fire but warn about country’s future

KINSHASA, Congo (CNS) — The Congolese bishops’ conference welcomed a fragile cease-fire in northeastern Congo but warned that the future of the country still hangs in the balance. In a mid-February message titled “Be Vigilant,” the bishops’ permanent council called on the Congolese to “watch out for” and “uncover” any plan to divide the country or illegally exploit its abundant natural resources. The bishops also said reforming the Congolese army should be the top priority to bring peace and stability in the country. They said the Congolese people do not wish to see a renewal of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as MONUC, in their country. “We deplore the government’s tardiness in establishing a national army that is capable of defending our populations and ensuring the integrity of our territory, to the extent that we have to rely on foreign armies,” they said. “Many people are asking questions about the presence of the latter on our territory, their exact mandate, the nature and content of the accords that have allowed them into our country as well as their respect of the end of their mandate.”

Iraq Troop Withdrawal or Occupation-Lite?

Foreign Policy in Focus

by Phyllis Bennis
President Barack Obama said directly that he would be announcing “a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.” As far as it goes, that sounds good. This is an indication that President Obama is largely keeping to his campaign promises, and that’s a hopeful sign, reflecting the power of the anti-war consensus in this country. Continue reading Iraq Troop Withdrawal or Occupation-Lite?

Drip, drip, drip (Resource for First Week of Lent)

Seven Weeks for Water
Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6.8b)
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. (Psalm 42.1)

waterLike the ticking of a clock marking out time, water drips noisily. Maybe it drips off the edge of a stone or roof in times of rain and plenty, or perhaps from a badly turned off tap in societies where earth’s most precious and vital resource is unconsciously wasted. Continue reading Drip, drip, drip (Resource for First Week of Lent)

No Quick Fix for Malnutrition and Hunger

Common Dreams

by Kristin Palitza

Somalis carry sacks of food aid distributed by the World Food Program near Mogadishu in 2008. Global food production, already under strain from the credit crunch, must double in the next four decades to head off mass hunger, the head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said. (AFP/File/Abdurashid Abikar)
Somalis carry sacks of food aid distributed by the World Food Program near Mogadishu in 2008. Global food production, already under strain from the credit crunch, must double in the next four decades to head off mass hunger, the head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said. (AFP/File/Abdurashid Abikar)

ROME – Almost five million children under the age of five die of malnutrition every year in the developing world. Food aid – which mainly contains nutrient-poor carbohydrates – does little to address the absence of a diverse diet that would prevent the condition.

Humanitarian relief organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is therefore urging policy makers to boost food security and improve the quality of food aid that feeds the world’s hungry. To fight malnutrition in the long-term, however, African governments need to invest in small-scale farming to create food autonomy.

More than 20 million children suffer from severe, acute malnutrition in the developing world. Half of the 9.7 million deaths of children under five each year are caused by the condition, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It will cost $5 billion a year alone to feed children under the age of three in developing countries, MSF said. Continue reading No Quick Fix for Malnutrition and Hunger