Pope Francis is flanked by Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina upon his arrival in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope denounces exploitation of Madagascar's unique resources

September 07, 2019 - 12:34 am

ANTANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) — Pope Francis has denounced the illegal logging and exploitation of Madagascar's unique natural resources as he opened a visit to the Indian Ocean nation with a plea for the government to fight the corruption that is ravaging the island's environment and keeping its people in "inhumane poverty."

Francis urged President Andry Rajoelina on Saturday to provide Madagascar's people with jobs and alternative sources of income so they aren't forced to cut down trees to find fertile soil and engage in contraband and illegal exportation of the island's diverse flora, fauna and mineral resources.

Madagascar is home to 5% of the world's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the island. Yet it is also one of the world's poorest countries.