AFRICA/ZAMBIA - The Church condemns xenophobic violence and ritual murders

Friday, 29 April 2016 violence  

Lusaka (Agenzia Fides) - "The government must anticipate events and make every effort to stop these behaviors", said Fr. Cleophas Lungu, Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Zambia to Catholic agency CANAA, expressing strong condemnation of the Catholic Church for the xenophobic attacks that took place recently in Zambia. "The violence in question is twofold", explains Fr. Lungu. "On the one hand, at least four people were killed by strangers in some densely populated compound of Lusaka in recent weeks. When rumors spread that ritual murders were perpetrated by foreigners who do business in Zambia - continues the priest - groups of residents in the affected areas of the capital unfortunately decided to take justice into their own hands and looted shops and homes belonging to foreigners and migrants, especially those from Rwanda".
Several Rwandan migrants took refuge in a structure of St. Ignatius church in Lusaka to flee the violence, where they received the visit of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu who promised them "full protection" from the authorities.
The Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference commended the concrete solidarity of many faithful who offered food and clothing to the people who sought refuge in the church. Fr. Lungu believes that the rumors about ritual murders are linked to "traditional beliefs about witchcraft and the modern phenomenon of people who practice Satanism in order to obtain a pecuniary advantage" and also due to extreme poverty in which much of the population lives. Fr. Lungu also notes that the spread of rumors and incitement to xenophobic violence also occurs thanks to the use of social media.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, expressed on behalf of Pope Francis, the concern and condemnation for the xenophobic violence in Zambia and commended the work of the Church to assist the victims and to spread in the country a culture of peace and respect for others. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 29/04/2016)