Peace still elusive in Africa – pope
Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI on Monday said peace and reconciliation in Africa remained a "distant" goal, pointing to anti-Christian attacks in northern Nigeria that have killed dozens of people in recent days.
"On the continent of Africa ... it is essential that co-operation between Christian communities and governments favour progress along the path of justice, peace and reconciliation, where respect is shown for members of all ethnic groups and all religions," the pope said in a speech at the Vatican.
"It is painful to realise that in different countries of the continent this goal remains distant," the 84-year-old pontiff told 160 ambassadors to the Holy See.
"I think in particular of the renewed outbreak of violence in Nigeria ... the aftermath of the civil war in Cote d’Ivoire, the continuing instability in the Great Lakes region and the humanitarian emergency in the countries of the Horn of Africa," he said.
"I once again appeal to the international community to make every effort to find a solution to the crisis which has gone on for years in Somalia," added the pope, who visited the west African state of Benin in November.
Benedict also hailed South Sudan's independence last year but said that this had been followed by "tensions and clashes" in recent months.
"I express my hope that all may unite their efforts to enable the people of Sudan and South Sudan to experience at last a period of peace, freedom and development," he said.