Developments in Liberia and DR Congo
On September 14, 2016, the UN Security Council approved a three-month extension for the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The UN News Centre reported that the Security Council extended its mandate until the end of 2016. The Council affirmed the UN’s readiness to consider the withdrawal of UNMIL and transition to a future United Nations presence, requesting the Secretary-General to conduct a mid-November assessment of the situation prior to any transitioning.
The head of UNMIL has reported to the Security Council that many Liberians have expressed
concern about the prospect of the Mission’s withdrawal and potential lack of UN support during the October 2017 presidential and legislative elections.
Liberia has been emerging from two bitter Civil Wars in the past three decades. The first lasted seven years from 1989 – 1996 during which an estimated 600,000 combatants and civilians died. The second lasted four years from 1999 – 2003 with upwards of 300,000 fatalities. During the latter civil war the deplorable use of child soldiers by both sides was roundly condemned by the international community.
SMA involvement in Liberia began in 1906. Liberia is the first and oldest mission territory confided to the Irish Province. Fr Stephen Kyne, from Hollymount, Co Mayo, became the Prefect Apostolic of Liberia. The territory was entrusted to the Society and became the first missionary assignment of the Irish Province when it was founded in 1912.
You can read the full UN News Centre Statement here:
Meanwhile, on Monday, 26 September 2016, Pope Francis broke with diplomatic protocol in a
move that was intended to express the Vatican’s displeasure and concern over political developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congolese President, Joseph Kabila, was received by Pope Francis in the privacy of his library and not in the reception room where visiting heads of state are met.
Following clashes between security forces and demonstrators, protesting the postponement of the country’s General elections next November, the Vatican urged Kabila to engage in “respectful dialogue” to end the clashes.
The Catholic Herald reported that the Vatican said “the Pope and the Vatican foreign minister insisted on dialogue among politicians, civil and religious authorities to ensure peace and the common good.”
There are 6 SMA priests working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Regional Superior is Fr Seraphin Kiosi SMA and the Vice Regional Superior is Fr Jean-Marie Lamotte SMA (Lyons Province).
The Catholic Herald’s coverage can be read here: