HomeNewsPope Francis Tells Foreign Powers To 'Hands Off Africa'

Pope Francis Tells Foreign Powers To ‘Hands Off Africa’

“Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa!” In his opening speech to Congolese government officials and the diplomatic corps in Kinshasa's national palace garden, Francis received applause."

Pope Francis Tells Foreign Powers To 'Hands Off Africa' - SurgeZirc SA
Pope Francis Tells Foreign Powers To ‘Hands Off Africa’.

Pope Francis demanded Tuesday that foreign powers stop plundering Africa’s natural resources for the poison of their own greed, as he arrived in Congo to a raucous welcome from Congolese grateful that he was drawing attention to their forgotten plight.

Tens of thousands of people lined the main road into Kinshasa after Francis arrived at the airport, some standing three or four deep, with children in school uniforms taking the front row.

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“The Pope is 86 years old, but he still came. It is a sacrifice, and the Congolese people will remember it,” said Sultan Ntambwe, a bank agent in his 30s, as he waited for Francis in a scene reminiscent of some of Francis’ previous trips to similarly Catholic countries.

Francis denounced the centuries-long exploitation of Africa by colonial powers, today’s multinational extraction industries, and neighbouring countries interfering in Congo’s affairs, which has resulted in a surge in fighting in the east.

“Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa!” In his opening speech to Congolese government officials and the diplomatic corps in Kinshasa’s national palace garden, Francis received applause.

Francis, referring to Congo’s vast mineral and natural wealth as a “diamond of creation,” demanded that foreign interests stop carving up the country for their own interests and accept their role in the economic “enslavement” of the Congolese people.

“Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered,” said history’s first Latin American pope, who has long railed at how wealthy countries have exploited the resources of poorer ones for their own benefit.

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The six-day trip, which includes a stop in South Sudan, was originally scheduled for July but was pushed back due to Francis’ knee problems, which were still so severe on Tuesday that he couldn’t stand to greet journalists on the plane bound for Kinshasa.

It was also supposed to stop in Goma, in eastern Congo, but the surrounding North Kivu region has seen intense fighting between government troops and the M23 rebel group, as well as attacks by militants linked to the Islamic State group.

According to the World Food Program, the fighting has displaced 5.7 million people, a fifth of whom were displaced last year alone.

Instead of going there, Francis will meet with a delegation from the east on Wednesday at the Vatican embassy in Kinshasa for a private meeting. The plan calls for them to take part in a ceremony in which they pledge to forgive their attackers.

According to Sylvie Mvita, an economics student in Kinshasa, the pope’s arrival will focus the world’s attention and television cameras on Congo and the fighting in the east, demonstrating how the rest of the world has forgotten its suffering.

“This will allow the world to discover the atrocities of which our brothers in the east of the country are victims.

“And maybe for once, the little humanity that remains in some people will cause an awakening and the international community will not only be interested in what is happening in Ukraine but also in what is happening in this country,” she said.

In his speech to the Pope, President Felix Tshisekedi accused the international community of forgetting about Congo and of complicit “inaction and silence” about the atrocities taking place in the east.

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“In addition to armed groups, foreign powers eager for the minerals in our subsoil commit cruel atrocities with the direct and cowardly support of our neighbour Rwanda, making security the first and greatest challenge for the government,” he said.

Rwanda has been accused of and has repeatedly denied, supporting the M23 rebels in Congo.

Francis’ tough words set the tone for the trip, in which the pontiff hopes to bring a message of peace, a warning to the international community not to turn a blind eye, and a recognition that Africa is the future of the Catholic Church.

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Elize Coetzee for SurgeZirc SA
Elize Coetzee for SurgeZirc SAhttps://new.surgezirc.co.za
Elize Coetzee, a seasoned journalist, is the driving force behind SurgeZirc SA’s world news and world politics coverage. With an unwavering commitment to truth, Elize delves into global affairs, providing live updates, in-depth investigations, and thought-provoking analysis. Whether it’s geopolitical tensions, international diplomacy, or breaking stories, Elize’s incisive reporting keeps readers informed and engaged.
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