DAILY CATHOLIC     THURS-FRI-SAT: EASTER TRIDUUM     April 1-3, 1999     vol. 10, no. 64

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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FRANCISCANS APPEAL FOR HELP WITH KOSOVO REFUGEES AS U.S. AID GROUPS STRUGGLE TO HELP AS WELL

          The Franciscan friars of the Balkans have made an impassioned call for an end to the violence in Kosovo.

          In a message relayed through the Vatican news agency FIDES, Father Giacomo Bini, the minister general of the Franciscan order, issued a plea for "a celebration of Easter in serenity and peace." The Franciscan order has traditionally been an important presence in the Balkan region, and now has established several shelters for the refugees flowing out of Kosovo.

          The Franciscan leader continued: "Humbly but firmly, we ask all who have a voice and responsibility for this horrible conflict, to use all their power to keep open the dialogue between the parties; only the force of reason can produce solutions worthy of human dignity, avoiding the folly of war."

          Father Bini said the Franciscans felt compelled "to make these requests in the name of all those who cannot make their own voices heard-- those who are living under the bombardment, those who have been forced to leave their own land, those who have been subject to atrocious physical and psychological violence."

          There are 8 Franciscan monasteries in the regions of Yugoslavia, including 4 within the areas that have been bombarded by NATO forces. Father Bini revealed that the friars have responded to the latest warface by setting up a "web of solidarity" to shelter refugees from Kosovo: - In Tuzi, Montenegro, the Franciscans host about 2,500 refugees-- with that number increasing every hour;
    - In Dushai, Albania, just 12 miles from the Kosovo border, the Franciscan Order has set up an emergency center, offering first aid and a few provisions to the refugees, accommodating up to 35 people at a time; the center is constantly crowded;
    - In Scutari, Albania, a refugee shelter now houses 300 people, and is again overcrowded;
    - In Macedonia, Franciscans have set up a joint relief operation with the help of Orthodox clerics and Caritas Macedonia. These shelters are being operated with the cooperation of the United Nations Commission for Refugees, and in conjunction with efforts by the local dioceses.

          For those who want to support the Franciscan Friars in their work for the Kosovo refugees, donations may be sent to the Institute for Religious Works at the Vatican, in the name of:

      OFM Curia Generale Economato Emergency Kosovo Bank account n. 27.505.004

          In a related story, US aid groups chased out of Kosovo by a week of NATO air strikes said on Tuesday that they are focusing on providing relief for tens of thousands of refugees fleeing to neighboring countries.

          The groups called for donations of food, medicine, clothing, blankets, tents, and money to help the flood of ethnic Albanian Kosovars seeking refuge in Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia. Feed the Children said it had to pull their relief workers from Kosovo and are unable to transport supplies into the province. World Vision said it pulled its six workers out of Kosovo and tripled the number in Montenegro.

          "People are concerned about refugees who have fled Kosovo -- they think the humanitarian crisis is on this side of the border," said Kevin Cook, head of World Vision in Kosovo. "The real needs are with people inside Kosovo."


Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

April 1-3, 1999       volume 10, no. 64
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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