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Rome Reports

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Why Pope Francis has called for day of fasting and prayer for South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo

The humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is chronic. In late 2017, the UN sounded the alarm once again – more than one million people could die of hunger and some 25,000 are in “catastrophic conditions.”

Here, the use of child soldiers reaches troubling numbers – an estimated 19,000 have been forced to carry arms despite the latest releases. 

The civil war that began in late 2013 shows no signs of stopping and there are now more than one million internally displaced. 

UN High Commissioner for Refugees

“It’s a human tragedy of major proportion. This is like Syria or Yemen. These are the big humanitarian crises of the world, and it is urgent to make peace.”

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the situation has worsened in the last few months. It's the other horrific stage for an endless war caused by a mix of economic, ethnic and religious interests. The heart of Africa risks blowing up. 

Agenzia Fides

“The situation is one of a country that is nearly adrift. What's most concerning is that the government seems to view the Church as leading the opposition.”

The ecclesiastic hierarchy's mediation has been crucial in reaching agreements between the government and opposition. However, the agreements haven't been fulfilled by the president, and the tension has caused demonstrations to be forcefully quelled. The Church estimates more than 3,000 people died from violent causes between 2016 and 2017.  

From Rome, the pope has called for a day of fasting and prayer for peace in both countries. It will take place Friday, February 23, when the Holy Father returns from his spiritual exercises. It's the second time in four months that the pope has asked for special prayer for the nations. In November, he organized a prayer ceremony for them.