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Vatican agency reports 5 million central African war deaths

After a visit to eastern Congo, the Italian Catholic relief agency Caritas has called for a summit meeting of leaders from Africa's troubled Great Lakes region, seeking a comprehensive solution to the many violent conflicts there, the Fides news agency has reported.

The Caritas team also called upon African leaders to respect existing peace agreements, asked international leaders to increase diplomatic efforts and humanitarian services, and asked the media to foster greater public awareness of the struggles in the Great Lakes - particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Caritas has been active since 1995.

Caritas reported that the violence in the Great Lakes, which has swept through several different countries since 1998, has caused an astonishing 3 million deaths. That figure includes the deaths of many people who died from disease, malnutrition, and exposure after they were forced to flee from their homes, and lost access to food and health care because of the conflict.

The violence in the Great Lakes is motivated largely by a struggle for control of enormous natural resources, Caritas said. Congo-- currently the center of the most violent fighting-- has immense untapped sources of gold, diamonds, oil, cobalt, zinc, and timber.

Catholic World News

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United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks: Latest news from Great Lakes and Central Africa
Caritas Internationalis
Jesuit Refugee Service: Burundi Alert

3 Sep 2003