Pope Francis Fears Mosquitoes More Than Terrorists in Africa
Pope Francis is on a six-day tour of Africa, which Western media rushed to dub the riskiest of his papacy so far.
Their justification was that this trip takes him to Kenya and Uganda, which have suffered attacks from Islamist militants Al-Shabaab, and to the Central African Republic which has struggled to come to grips with sectarian conflict.
Francis however shrugged off the safety fears, joking that he was “more worried about the mosquitoes”.
He was also very serious: the mosquito, despite its tiny frame, belongs to the deadliest animal family in the world. It has had more impact on African history than many realise. It was instrumental in definingmass movements of groups in Africa, and indeed the story of colonialism would have been markedly different today had colonisers been able to come to terms with malaria.
But Francis’ quip also comes at a particularly apt time—a major meeting on climate change opens next week in Paris, and the pope has made the environment a major pillar of his papacy. In Kenya he delivered a stark message warning it would be “catastrophic” if an agreement is not reached at the UN climate summit which opens on Monday.
Mosquito-borne diseases are expected to increase with climate change, and could between 2030 and 2050 result in an additional 60,000 deaths per year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), contributing to the total of additional 250,000 deaths a year expected to be caused by global warming.
- Health Care