Cardinal Rodriguez Easter message
By Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga
Momoudou(center) and his wife and daughter left their village in Tahoua, because a disastrous harvest meant they didn’t have enough food to survive. Today, they live in a camp in Niamey, in a simple shelter made from cardboard boxes and tarpaulin. Aissa’s parents try to find odd-jobs in the city so that they can feed their family.
At Easter, Christians look forward to the spiritual banquet Mother Church provides.
The message of the risen Christ is one of resurrection, of renewal and regeneration. That message is replayed in the nature around us. There is new life everywhere we look.
But sometimes it feels as if nature has let us down. In West Africa’s Sahel region, 12 million people will not have enough to eat over the next few months.
The hunger spreading across Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania is due in part because of drought and pest.
The crisis has manmade causes too: our global system of food favours multinational corporations and weakens the small farmer.
The truth is that we have known about the looming food crisis in West Africa for many months.
Pope Benedict warned in February , “The Sahel is seriously threatened again in recent months by a notable decrease in food resources”.
Caritas staff members and the people we help have been ringing the alarm bells, with some communities saying that they have never known the situation to be as bad as this. Caritas has launched emergency appeals to provide food and other aid to over 650,000 people.
But the international community has not acted. Those Sahel countries still have less than 50 percent of the aid they needed.
We know that by acting early and quickly we can save both human suffering and money.
Niger has experienced food emergencies before, recently in 2005 and in 2010. The cost of averting a hunger crisis in Niger in 2005 was put at $7 per person. The world failed to act. The cost of responding once the crisis was full blown came to $23 per person.
Easter is a time of hope.
Our hope is that rich countries hear the calls of the poor and motivated by justice provide the Sahel with the food aid it needs.
Our hope is also that world leaders realise that our global food system is broken. They must fix it and make it work for everyone.
Happy Easter and may the Risen Christ bless you with his joy!