The 11-year-old was in Italy for five days to mark World Environment Day. She asked the pontiff to help stop clashes between Meitei and tribal groups in the north-eastern state. The girl wants to build a school that will provide free education to children, victims of the violence, from both sides, that will be “a symbol of peace in the whole world”.
Delhi (AsiaNews) – Licypriya Kangujam, an 11-year-old Indian environmentalist, has called for peace and an end to interethnic violence in her native Manipur during a meeting with Pope Francis on Monday in the Vatican.
Dubbed the “Greta (Thunberg) of India” for her climate and environmental activism, Licypriya also presented a memorandum calling on rich countries to pay for the losses and damage caused by the climate crisis in the global south.
The young Indian spent five days in Italy, in particular in Rome, where she took part in events related to Green & Blue Festival, held in conjunction with UNESCO’s World Environment Day, on Monday (5 June).
On that day, the Indian environmentalist, together with four other teens from other parts of the world, met with the pontiff, who offered his prayers saying that he would make every possible effort to bring peace to Manipur, the Indian state that has been plunged in inter-ethnic violence between ethnic Meitei and tribal groups for about a month.
Speaking about the environment, Pope Francis urged the young people to continue working for the protection of the "common home" by focusing attention on the natural disasters that increasingly affect the planet, because protecting it is everyone’s task and responsibility before God.
During the meeting with the pope, Licypriya Kangujam mentioned the violence in Manipur and submitted a memorandum calling for mandatory “climate education" in all Catholic schools and missionary establishments in the world.
In her view, no solution to the environmental problem is possible without climate education. Addressing the pope, she stressed that his “authoritative intervention” will make to possible to “stop the violence" between the Kuki community and indigenous Meitei in Manipur.
Both communities are suffering, with scores killed and at least 80,000 - on both sides - losing their homes in weeks of clashes. “The children desperately hope for peace,” she said. “We should live in peace and harmony, together."
With respect to children, she said that she wants to build a school providing free education to children victims of the violence from both sides, from Grades 1 to 12. “The institution will be a symbol of peace in the whole world. And it will be built in a short time."
After her Rome visit, Licypriya Kangujam is expected in Paris from 19 to 24 June where she will participate in a meeting promoted by President French Emmanuel Macron on the issues of the environment and climate change.
Lastly, she will travel to Kigali, Rwanda, where she will meet with several African leaders next month, along with Nobel laureates and UN officials at a summit that will cover the violence in Manipur and the ways to restore peace.