Rome (Fides Service) – Respect for peace agreement; convocation of a Regional Summit of all governments in the Great Lakes Region to find lasting, non violent solutions to the local problems; increase diplomatic and aid efforts by the European Union; greater international media space to events in Africa particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reporting on wars and conflict but also highlighting positive experiences: these requests were made by Caritas Italy following a mission to the dioceses of Goma and Kindu in eastern Congo where this organisation has worked since 1995.
The visit served to confirm once again the seriousness of the people’s living conditions and the generous commitment of the local Catholic community. For example in Kindu diocese church run feeding-centres assist about 1,000 children and since May this year there is a new maternity centre funded by Caritas Italy. In the last week of July, besides routine work, assistance was provided for some 100 women victims of violence. In collaboration with local offices, Caritas Italy is working on urgently needed projects for social development, health care, economic growth and strengthening local capacities for a total 2.5 million Euro. The worst African conflict of all times which involved at different times and in different ways many different countries began in August 1998. In five years the war provoked the highest number of casualties since World War II: about 3 million, considering also indirect effects of violence (people forced to flee to the forest, farming abandoned, malnutrition, lack of access the health care). At the centre of the conflict lies mainly the control by one country of the immense resources: gold, diamonds, oil, cobalt, zinc, timber. Despite continuing fighting in the Ituri district and some parts of Kivu, the people of Congo have great hopes that the arduous formation of a transition government will bring the long desired end of the war (S.L.) (Fides Service 1/9/2003; lines 27; words 352)