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Pope's First Africa Trip Fraught With Security Concerns

  • Reuters

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Mass for a canonization in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, Oct. 18, 2015. The pope will visit Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic in November, the Vatican said.

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Mass for a canonization in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, Oct. 18, 2015. The pope will visit Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic in November, the Vatican said.

Pope Francis will meet slum dwellers and refugees and call for dialogue between Christians and Muslims when he visits Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic next month, the Vatican said on Saturday.

The trip, his first to Africa, is fraught with security concerns and the pope will spend about two days in each country and visit only the capitals.

Since his election as the first Latin American pope, Francis has met the most needy on each of his 10 foreign tours. In Nairobi, he will visit Kangemi, a slum that is home to 650,000 people.

He will also hold an interreligious meeting and say a Mass at a university in the capital.

Late November

The Kenya stop had been in doubt in the initial planning of the Nov. 25-30 trip.

Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall was the scene of a four-day siege in September 2013 that left at least 67 people dead in an attack by gunmen of the Somalia-based Islamist group al-Shabaab.

Last April, militants attacked the Garissa University College in eastern Kenya, killing 148 people, most of them Christian.

Medics help an injured person at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, April 2, 2015, after an attack by gunmen at Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya.

Medics help an injured person at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, April 2, 2015, after an attack by gunmen at Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya.

In Uganda, Francis is scheduled to visit a home for the disabled in Nalukolongo, a suburb of the capital Kampala.

The last stop is Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, where the centerpiece of his visit to a country plagued by intercommunal violence is a meeting with Muslim leaders in the Koudoukou mosque.

Violence

Violence surged in Bangui in September after the murder of a Muslim man, and 77 people were killed.

Much of the violence in the capital has been driven by a militia known as anti-balaka, which is largely Christian, and a mainly Muslim group called the Seleka.

Thousands have died and hundreds of thousands have been internally displaced since the Seleka briefly seized power in the majority Christian country in 2013.

They later handed power to an interim government but still control swathes of the north.

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