Sierra Leone Struggles After Civil War

Nearly eight years after a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, many people who fled the country have returned, although they struggle to survive amid a shattered economy, Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of Freetown and Bo said. In an interview on Sept. 21, the archbishop described a country that is still recovering from a war that left tens of thousands of people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Among the surprising results of the war’s end is the growth of the Catholic Church, in part because of the conversions of people who relied upon the church for assistance during the war. “The church stood by them,” Archbishop Charles said, “and the experience of war brought some people to their faith.” Although Catholics make up only about 8 percent of the population in Sierra Leone, rebels considered the church a threat during the 11-year civil war. Priests and religious were expelled from the country, and church property was looted and vandalized.

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