AFRICA/DR CONGO - Still violence while the world is praying for the DRC and South Sudan

Friday, 23 February 2018 violence   armed groups   peace   pope francis  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) – While today, 23 February, the world Day of prayer and fasting for peace in the world is being celebrated, and in particular for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, announced by Pope Francis, Agenzia Fides continues to receive news of violence in the DRC.
On Sunday 18 February, unknown persons abducted a Catholic priest: Don Idelphonse Myatasi, parish priest of Visiki, kidnapped together with his driver in Kambya on the road between the villages of Cantine and Mabalako in Beni Territory, in North Kivu, in the east of the DRC. The priest and the driver were released on 19 February, it seems thanks to the strong pressure of the population.
According to the local organization CEPADHO for the defense of human rights, the area is plagued by kidnappings for extortion reasons where not even priests are spared.
On February 17, four operations were carried out by the NGO "Hyrolique sans Frontière" (HYFRO) in the Rutshuru Territory, always in North Kivu. The bodies of two of them were later found with gunshot wounds.
According to the testimony of one of the surviving hostages who managed to escape from the hands of his kidnappers, the death of his two comrades occurred, when the kidnappers met and crossed a rival armed group. The two hostages were killed in the conflict. The fourth hostage was later released after payment of a ransom.
The kidnapping of HYFRO technicians, a local NGO based in Goma, risks accentuating the ethnic tensions between the different communities in the Rutshuru Territory. The kidnappers in fact belong to the Hutu militia, Nyatura, an ethnic group of Rwandan origin that often clashes with the local Nande.
The tensions in fact turned into violence on February 20, when in Mutanda, in the northwest of Rutshuru Territory, groups of young people from the Nande and Hunde communities set fire to several homes of the Hutu community. The young people said they wanted to avenge the killing of a member of the Hunde community, killed in the night by alleged Nyatura militiamen. According to CEPADHO, the whole Hutu community (one hundred families) was expelled from Mutanda. According to CEPADHO "it is urgently necessary to impose State authority in the area to avoid an escalation of ethnic tensions between Hutu, Hunde and Nande. Otherwise the peacekeeping efforts of the government and MONUSCO (UN Mission in the DRC) will be undermined".
As the Peace Network for the Congo recalls "In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the continuous postponements of the presidential elections are one of the main causes of the current violence. The authorities recently set 23 December 2018 as the voting date. But since the end of 2016, Congolese leader, Joseph Kabila, 46, shows that he wants to delay the start of the electoral process as much as possible and remain in power when the country's Constitution prevents him from running for a third term. The current hostilities have caused about 4 million displaced people throughout the Country. In the north-east of the territory, especially in the Kivu region, the population is in fact the victim of numerous armed groups, often financed by businessmen and politicians with the aim of exploiting its precious resources. In the central province of Kasai, on the other hand, more than 3,300 civilians were killed in the last year of fighting in over 40 common graves discovered". As for South Sudan, it is emphasized that "For four years we have been living the atrocities of a brutal civil war in South Sudan, that is difficult to decipher. According to the latest estimates, there are about 3.5 million refugees throughout the territory or in neighboring Countries. In addition, the Country was hit in early 2017 by a dramatic famine that had a serious impact on about 5 million civilians, half of the population". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 23/2/2018)