Berlin (Fides Service) – “Give practical support to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) by increasing development aid and reducing the debt of developing countries” is the request made by Catholic Bishops of Europe and Africa to the G8 Summit in Evian, France on 1-3 June 2003. The request was made in a letter addressed to President Jacques Chirac of France, who will host the Evian Summit. The letter was signed by Bishop Josef Homeyer, President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), and Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, President of the Symposium of Bishops’ Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). The Bishops met in Berlin on 29 May 2003, in the margins of the "Ökumenischer Kirchentag" Ecumenical Church Day.
The G8 summit brings together the world’s 7 most industrialised nations USA, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Canada and Italy, plus Russia to discuss political and economic matters regarding the future of the planet. On June 1 the G8 leaders will meet the heads of state of the countries which promoted NEPAD South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and Senegal to discuss a plan to maintain peace in Africa. NEPAD was founded in October 2001 in Abuja Nigeria with the aim of reducing the enormous difference in living conditions in Africa and Europe.
In their letter the Catholic Bishops of Europe and Africa call on the European Union and the G8 countries to overcome the current impasse on negotiations within the World Trade Organisation on agricultural trade and access to medications, which are issues of the greatest importance for Africa.
They expressed their hope that the Africa-Europe Summit would take place at the earliest appropriate opportunity. The Summit, which was due to take place in Lisbon in April 2003, was postponed indefinitely due to the situation in Zimbabwe
Archbishop Monsengwo, who is the Archbishop of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reported on the crisis currently affecting the region of Ituri. The Bishops called on the international community, and particularly the countries of the European Union, to do everything in their power to prevent a further escalation of the violence between Hema and Lendu and to avert the risk of genocide. LM (Fides Service 6/5/2003 EM lines 33 Words: 397)