Pope Benedict XVI's appeals not to ignore our responsibility to do everything in our power to bring assistance to those who suffer from hunger and thirst are yielding their fruit.
Bishop Giorgio Bertin, Apostolic Administrator to Mogadishu, Somalia, Bishop of Djibouti, and President of the local Caritas offices in the Horn of Africa region, told Vatican Radio, that Pope Benedict's appeals for aid and awareness regarding the dramatic situation of drought and famine in the Horn of Africa have proved extremely important.
Following the Pope's last appeal some two weeks ago, Bertin says the number of people and organisations that have contacted him following the Pope's words, represents a first reponse.
This new appeal - he says - "will keep alive the attention of a world that risks to be prisoner of the immediate, of the present day", and then perhaps a week or two later forget all about it.
To the question regarding the African Union's plan for a summit on the Horn of Africa situation, Bertin expresses his hope that not only will this step-up efforts to save human lives, but will also provide an opportunity for African players to think in longer-terms: to think about what to do in the future to avoid having to just respond to emergency.
Bishop Bertin highlights the fact that "a change of mind, a change of the financial systems" are necessary. And - he says - "it is necessary to think more in terms of development".
As far as the work Caritas is doing on the ground, Bertin says the whole Caritas network is active in Ethiopia, in Eritrea, in Kenya.
As far as Caritas Djibouti is concerned, Bertin says Caritas operators work through mission stations because the most affected in the Repubblic of Djibouti are the rural populations, and Djibouti has four missionary stations. So he explains "we work providing food and health care through the missionary stations".
As far as Central and Southern Somalia is concerned, because of the conflictual situation there, Bertin says "we are unable to reach the people directly". But during these past years - he says - we have established relationships with local associations, and it is through them that we are channelling support which is mainly focussed on providing food. But also tents - Bertin says - because, ironically, particularly in Mogadishu and along the Southern coast, during this period of the year there are frequent rains which create problems.
listen to the interview on Vatican Radio : >>