Kampala (Agenzia Fides) - "We note with great concern that there has been an increase in kidnappings, organized crime and killings in our country", say the Bishops of Uganda in their final statement of their Plenary Assembly which ended on June 8th and sent to Agenzia Fides.
"We call upon the government and all security agencies to scale up their efforts to protect the life and property of Ugandans" write the Bishops who appeal to criminals to "stop committing these senseless criminal acts, and respect human life".
From information gathered by Fides, in the first 4 months of 2018 the Ugandan police registered 42 cases of kidnapping for the purpose of extortion in the entire country, especially in the area of Kampala, the capital. Most of the victims are women and children. The payment of ransom by the families of those kidnapped does not always guarantee their return home.
The wave of kidnappings has aroused strong emotion among the population. On 6 June, a sensational protest saw some activists put empty coffins in front of Parliament as a sign of protest due to the police's inactivity.
The Bishops also say they are against the National Biosafety Act approved by Parliament in 2017, which is now waiting for the approval and signing by the President of Uganda, which will allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). According to the Bishops, the text, in its present form, does not offer adequate guarantees to protect human health and the environment from the negative effects of GMO?s and "opens the doors for companies which will practically enslave our small holder farmers, creating dependence through the exclusive use of their GMO’s products". The Bishops recommend changing the law or withdrawing it in order to adopt a new text.
The Bishops then launch an appeal to help refugees who sought refuge in Uganda. Over one million South Sudanese have been welcomed in the north, in the diocese of Arua and in the Archdiocese of Gulu, while thousands of refugees have arrived in the dioceses of Kasese, Hoima and Fort Portal from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. The Church assists these people through Caritas Uganda in collaboration with various NGOs and with the government, but the Bishops complain about some episodes of corruption and mismanagement of funds for refugees.
Finally, the Ugandan Episcopal Conference announces the forthcoming creation of a Catholic television station called Uganda Catholic Television (UCT) after getting a license from the Communications Commission. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 15/6/2018)