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Gentiloni in Nairobi, alarm for the world’s Christians

One week on from the massacre at the University of Garissa, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Paolo Gentiloni flew to Kenya because in the face of the cruel murder of 148 persons, for the most part Christian students, “it is, first of all, important to be thre and bear witness to Italy’s solidarity”. This is the first visit by a European minister since the attack to a nation in shock, and where the Christian community is 70% of the population. A symbolic gesture to “express the Italian government’s solidarity” with Kenya, but also a demonstration of concrete commitment to a country that has been fighting Quaedo-style terrorism for years.

Meeting with Minister Amina Mohamed

“Italy heads up the European mission in Somalia with General Maggi, and our Carabinieri are training Somali forces in Djibouti”, Gentiloni underscored, who spoke of Italy’s contribution to the stabilisation of Somalia with his Kenyan colleague Minister Amina Mohamed. But there is another question that deeply concerns Italy, and that is a response to the insistence of the terrorists and to students, because, as the head of diplomacy explained, “there is no magic formula against terrorism, only the struggle on multiple fronts”. For this reason the Farnesina and the Ministry of Education have made 25 study bursaries available to the students of the University of Garissa. The initiative involves 9 Italian universities for the 2015-2016 academic year. From now until June, moreover, the Italian foreign ministry has made arrangements for the creation of a “fast track” desk to facilitate pre-enrolment and visa issuance for all students wishing to come to Italy.

Meeting with the Archbishop of Nairobi

Gentiloni met for over half an hour with Archbishop of Nairobi John Njue, with whom he confronted the problem of religious persecution and the importance of protecting the freedom of worship, a theme very dear to Pope Bergoglio.

Cooperation with Kenya in counter-terrorism must continue even when “the spotlights go out” on the tragedy of the Garissa campus, Gentiloni said after his meeting with the Archbishop, adding that “gestures of solidarity must be backed up by concrete actions”.