Abidjan (Agenzia Fides)-“Our youth accounts for 65% of the continent’s entire population. Unfortunately the majority are unemployed and exposed to trafficking of people and drugs, to violence and forced migration” said Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, of Jos, chairman of RECOWA/CERAO (Regional Bishops Conference of West Africa) in a message to the sitting chairperson of CEDEAO/ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia.
At the end of the Standing Committee meeting, held in late March at Assinie, Cote d’Ivoire, the Catholic Bishops of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sierra-Leone, Senegal and Togo urged their respective heads of state and government to tackle the emergencies that emerged during their gathering.
Widespread unemployment is the main concern because it makes young people “easy prey of guerrilla leaders and criminal politicians anxious to enlist them to commit violent crimes and acts of terrorism”. During the Ivory Coast meeting, the Bishops deliberated on the challenge of youth unemployment including youth’s high risk of exposure “to trafficking, drug abuse, violence and forced migrations; religious intolerance and extremism” and the menace of herdsmen who, “often armed with dangerous weapons, are associated with rape, murder, destruction of farms, kidnaping and conflicts”, the Bishops say in the message, recalling that the Catholic Church, through the national Bishops Conferences and their Justice, Development and Peace Commissions, mediates in governance and political issues in the respective countries in the region. This collaboration will be enhanced with the creation in Abuja, capital of Nigeria a RECOWA-CERAO Liaison Office to collaborate with relevant commissions and institutions of the ECOWAS.. Archbishop Kaigama called on President Sirleaf to facilitate the adoption of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to define the terms of mutual collaboration. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 11/4/2017)