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Owo: UN urges governments to support plan to safeguard religious places

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By CECILIA OLOGUNAGBA

NEW YORK- The High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC), Mr Miguel Moratinos, has urged all governments to support the implementation of Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites to keep worshippers safe.

Moratinos made the appeal in the light of the attack on St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, Nigeria, during the Pentecost mass on Sunday.

The high representative, in a statement on Tuesday, called for mutual respect of all religions and faiths and for fostering a culture of fraternity and peace.

He recalled the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, developed by UNAOC, and appealed on all governments and relevant stakeholders to support its implementation.

He also invited the global youth and faith communities to join UNAOC’s global call to action #forSafeWorship to contribute to celebrate the universality of religious sites as symbols of our shared humanity, history and traditions.

Similarly, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has condemned “in the strongest terms” a brutal attack on a Catholic church in Owo, which left at least 50 people dead and wounded dozens more.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Guterres described the attack as “heinous”, as worshippers gathered on Sunday to celebrate Pentecost – an important date in the Christian calendar.

According to reports, attackers infiltrated the congregation before shooting at people who had gathered for mass inside the church.

Attacks on places of worship are “abhorrent”, he said, urging the Nigerian authorities to spare no effort in bringing those responsible to justice.

To date, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which is considered unusual for Southwest Nigeria. (NAN)

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