Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "Since July 2016 the conflict between traditional Chief Jean-Prince Kamwina-Nsapu Pandi and the authorities of central Kasai province has taken a tragic dimension that goes far beyond its original outbreak and now affects different communities of Kasai", says a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, of the Episcopal Provincial Assembly of Kananga.
The clashes and the violence committed by Kamwina-Nsapu followers, killed by the police in August 2016, "caused the death of hundreds of people, including many young people and children, with systematic violations of fundamental human rights, the destruction of public infrastructure", the Bishops say. Inhabitants of several villages roam in forests without assistance, while several young people and children, left to themselves, "are exploited and recruited as protagonists of the conflict".
Violence did not spare the Church: "churches, hospitals, health centers, schools and church property were looted" (see Fides 24/2/2017).
The causes of the crisis, according to the Bishops, are due to "poor management of administrative matters on behalf of the traditional power that has been manipulated and politicized".
Once violence began, police repression "created a popular movement of resistance that goes beyond the original framework of the problem", say the Bishops, who point out that violence is committed not only by Kamwina-Nsapu followers, but also by people in search of personal vendetta and criminals who "rob peaceful citizens and loot infrastructure".
In order to end the violence, the Bishops ask the police to act professionally to protect citizens and their property; politicians to make peace gestures and prosecute perpetrators of crimes; to traditional leaders to prevent young people to enlist in the militias. Church personnel and lay faithful are asked to pray for peace, reciting daily prayers in the parishes for the 125 years of evangelization. The Bishops finally decreed that Lent is to be consecrated to prayer for the dead and peace in Kasai, and have organized a fundraiser for the displaced. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 27/02/2017)