The Holy See
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Your Excellency,

Twenty-five years ago in Ouagadougou, on 10 May 1980, the Holy Father launched a solemn appeal for the peoples seriously afflicted by drought and the encroaching desertification in the Sahel. Recalling this significant event, he wishes to express his sentiments of deep gratitude to all those in the various parts of the world who immediately responded to his request and have generously shared in his concern for the many people who are in a truly precarious plight.

The Pope's appeal resulted in a wave of practical projects that led to the creation of the Vatican John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, whose management His Holiness entrusted directly to representatives of the Episcopates of the nine countries concerned, whereas its legal representation was entrusted to the President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".

Twenty-five years later, it is possible to see the results of this providential institution and the aid that has been allocated through the Foundation to the peoples of the Sahel. Indeed, the Foundation's effective and intense work has permitted the funding of numerous projects, and everywhere their success has met with unanimous approval and appreciation. The heartfelt wish of the Sovereign Pontiff on this joyful occasion is that these results may continue to be achieved with renewed and increasing dynamism in order to sustain the communities who benefit from them and who are thereby enabled to be more responsible for their own harmonious and integral development.

Unfortunately, despite the commitment of the Governments of the African countries of the Sahel region and of the international community, the situation in this region continues to be a cause of concern. The Holy Father is therefore making the most of this opportunity to renew his appeal as he encourages the endeavours to overcome the numerous problems and needs that persist concerning the available resources, which unfortunately are insufficient. It is enough to think of the problem of water, especially drinking water. The Pope encourages every effort for a more equitable distribution of this resource, accompanied by the appropriate environmental policies.

The Holy Father expresses the wish that this anniversary will be a favourable opportunity to give rise to a new surge of solidarity that can guarantee the praiseworthy John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel the appropriate means to enable it to pursue its mission of human and Christian solidarity successfully by responding to the expectations of the poor. It is right to mention the "creativity in charity" that His Holiness appealed for in his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (cf. n. 50) at the end of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

Remembering with deep gratitude the work of the late Cardinal Zoungrana, who was President of the Administrative Board of the Foundation, as well as the ardent zeal of all those who have succeeded him, especially that of Bishop emeritus Guy Romano, the Sovereign Pontiff offers you, Your Excellency, his most fervent good wishes for the success of your activity. He encourages you as well as the Administrative Board to persevere confidently with the work you have undertaken, and while he assures you of his spiritual closeness and constant prayers, he cordially imparts to everyone a special Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant divine favours.

Please accept, Your Excellency, my most cordial and devoted sentiments in the Lord.


Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Secretary of State to His Holiness