Letter from CCCB President Jacques Berthelet Regarding Efforts by Development and Peace to Support Afghan Refugees

Wednesday, October 24 2001

This letter has been sent by the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) to all CCCB members.

Dear brother Bishop,

One only needs to mention the date 11 September 2001, and everyone reacts with horror because of the terrorist actions with their terrifying impact on New York, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. These and so many other appalling events in the world, reminding us of the fragility of human life, also lead us to reflect on the need for justice, solidarity, humanitarian aid and ways to decrease violence.

The anti-terrorist action that has now been undertaken is concentrated especially on Afghanistan. But even before this, the people of that country were suffering the tragic consequences of prolonged drought as well as other unbearable conditions. The current measures to combat terrorism impose yet an even heavier burden on the ordinary people of Afghanistan who in most instances are innocent victims trapped in the conflicts. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people are now trying to find refuge to protect themselves from the combat, while millions of others are just barely managing to survive in the midst of their country’s famine and insecurity.

As you have already been informed, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE earlier this October launched a campaign to aid refugees in and around Afghanistan. CCODP is doing this in collaboration with Caritas Internationalis — the Catholic international emergency aid network — as well as its own sister organizations in Pakistan, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United States and Germany. These agencies have staff on site to assist the aid efforts for Afghan refugees.

I encourage you to do all you can to help make your faithful aware of the importance of the Development and Peace campaign for the refugees of Afghanistan, and to urge support for this witness of charity and solidarity toward our fellow human beings who are among the most vulnerable to be found on the planet.

When promoting this campaign among your faithful, you will also wish to remind them that DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE provides Afghan refugees and other displaced persons with the basic necessities, including water, food rations, temporary shelter, blankets, clothes and household goods as well as medical and health items.

Fraternally in Christ and in his spirit of caring for one’s neighbour,

+ Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V.
Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops