AFRICA/KENYA - “We must work to promote respect for the dignity of every human being ”. the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace visits second largest shanty town in Nairobi

Tuesday, 24 February 2004

Nairobi (Fides Service) - Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace started his visit to Kenya in Kibera, the second largest slum in Nairobi. A report from the African Catholic news service CISA says that the people in Kibera will be evacuated on Friday 27 February when the government starts to demolish their illegal shelters.
“We cannot stand and watch and not act ” said Cardinal Martino. “We must work to promote respect for the dignity of every human bring”.
The government intends to move people away from the poor dwellings which are situated under electrical power lines and close to the railway. The decision met with protest from the slum dwellers and from several political leaders and human rights groups. Kibera is home to more than 700,000 of Nairobi’s population of about 3 million people. The government has promised to close the city’s shanty towns and build 150,000 low cost homes every year.
“I am deeply troubled to see these people, human beings like us, who have no real home, school or other structures. We must help them be agents of their future” Cardinal Martino said, walking along Kibera’s muddy streets. After a visit to the parish of Saint Gabriel and Catholic nursing school, the Cardinal expressed gratitude for the local Church’s efforts to supply basic services to the slum dwellers.
Cardinal Martino is in Kenya for a week long pastoral visit during which is opened celebrations for the 10th anniversary of ISM Institute of Social Ministry, at Tangaza College University of Nairobi (see Fides 23 February 2004, (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 24/2/2004, righe 28 parole 317)