US bishops push for humanitarian aid in Somalia

.- The United States government must work more assertively with the United Nations and neighboring African countries to address increasing violence in Somalia, said Bishop Thomas Wenski in a letter to National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

“Rising tensions, militarization and a lack of genuine dialogue have created a situation where a major conflict has become increasingly likely,” wrote Bishop Wenski in the Dec. 6 letter.

“Military action is not the solution to this problem,” wrote the bishop, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) international policy committee.

Instead, he called for “patient, long-term diplomacy, peace building and humanitarian support.” He recommended that the U.S. government engage with Somalia’s transitional federal government, the Council of Somali Islamic Courts and neighboring states to stop the escalation of conflicts and to publicly endorse peace talks scheduled for mid-December.

Should a conflict erupt in Somalia, it could spill over into other countries in the Horn of Africa, the bishop warned.

The U.N. and international community should also “increase diplomatic efforts aimed at reducing tensions, promoting dialogue, and supporting concrete steps to reduce the potential for war,” he said.

”The Somali people deserve international support in their search for a resolution to a worsening crisis that has already taken a devastating human toll in the last 15 years,” he said.

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