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Independent Catholic News - NAIROBI - 24 February 2004 - 266 words

Kenya: Vatican cardinal visits slum ahead of demolition

The visiting President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, waded through the muddy paths of Africa's second largest slum, Kibera in Nairobi, and called for respect for the dignity of the residents, many of whom will be thrown out into the cold when the government demolishes their homes this Friday.

"We must not sit idle and do nothing; we must engage everyone to respect the dignity of every human being," Cardinal Martino said yesterday. He was accompanied on the tour by the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya, Archbishop Giovanni Tonucci, and Fr Xavier Gonzalez, a priest from Christ the King Catholic Church, Laini Saba, Kibera.

A government drive to evict people living under electricity power lines, on road reserves and next to railway lines has raised an outcry from slum residents, politicians and human rights groups. Kibera is home to 700 000 out of Nairobi's three million people.

"I was saddened because these people, who are human beings like us, do not have proper housing, schools and other amenities. We must help them to become protagonists of their own future," Cardinal Martino said after the one-hour tour, which also took him to St Gabriel's Sub-Parish and a nursery school under Christ the King Parish.

He praised the Catholic Church's work in providing basic services to the slum residents. The government has promised to upgrade all city slums and to build 150,000 low-cost urban houses per year.

Cardinal Martino arrived in the country on Sunday for a one-week pastoral visit.

Source: Catholic Information Service Africa
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