Libyan youth seek a better future

By  John Thavis, Catholic News Service
  • February 24, 2011
LibyaVATICAN CITY - The top Church official in Libya said the country’s current unrest is based on legitimate requests by young people for a better future.

Oil-rich Libya, unlike other north Africa hot spots Tunisia and Egypt, has the resources to satisfy those requests, Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, the apostolic vicar of Tripoli, told Vatican Radio.

“The people are asking for some things that are just. And they are fundamental requests of young people: to be able to have a house, a better salary, a job,” Martinelli said.

Libya is relatively well-off, he said, “and perhaps here is where the crisis arises: Young people see a country that could help them, but that doesn’t.”

The comments came after several days of protests and armed retaliation by the forces of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, whose forces have deployed tanks, fighter jets and helicopters against protesters. As of Feb. 22, several hundred people were reported killed in the skirmishes, and parts of the country were said to be under opposition control.

Martinelli said it was difficult to foresee a resolution of the crisis. He said the Catholic Church, which represents a tiny minority in Libya, wanted above all a “form of reconciliation that allows the Libyan people to have what is just.”

The important thing now is to reopen dialogue between the factions, he said.

He said Catholic personnel and institutions were not experiencing particular problems during the unrest, but he added that he had been unable to communicate for days with two communities of women religious working near Benghazi, centre of the protests.

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