War-Survivors Appeal for Kenyan Peace

Offer Firsthand Experience to Promote Dialogue

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ROME, JAN. 30, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Caritas staff members who have firsthand experience of war and conflict are appealing to Kenya's government and civilians to make peace.



The eight signatories issued the appeal through Caritas International. Kenya erupted in violence after disputed Dec. 27 presidential elections.

"Our countries have been ripped apart by political, ethnic and religious violence," they wrote. "We have witnessed the devastation these divisions bring. We are watching with despair as Kenya, once a beacon for stability in a troubled region, goes down the path of ethnic killing.

"In Rwanda, over half a million people were massacred in three months. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, over 5 million people have died since 1995. The break up of Yugoslavia saw the return of genocide to Europe, with scenes reminiscent of the Second World War and the Holocaust of the Jews. The suffering of the people in the Holy Land and in particular in Gaza still continues. In Darfur today over 2.5 million are homeless."

Besides the signatories from the countries cited, Caritas staff members from Cambodia, Lebanon and Colombia, as well as the organization's secretary-general, signed the appeal.

"We plead with the government, opposition parties and people of Kenya to end the violence," they added. "Already much damage has been done, but it is not too late to step away from the brink. We offer the lessons of our own countries in solidarity with those caught in this conflict in the hope that our examples deter Kenya from following down this path toward tragedy. Peace and reconciliation through dialogue is the only way forward.