Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "For more than two decades, the east of our country has been devastated by armed conflicts and recurrent insecurity that cause death, desolation and displacement of populations. Unfortunately, all our appeals have not yet found significant echoes in the affected population", states a message from the Standing Committee of the Bishops' Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO) sent to Agenzia Fides.
"To demonstrate our emotional and effective closeness with our brothers and sisters wounded and victims of this tragedy, a delegation of Bishops from the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC) and the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) carried out a pastoral mission in the east of the country, in particular in the dioceses of Goma, Butembo-Beni and Bunia, from 14 to 26 January" (see Fides, 30/1/2021).
"During this mission, the Bishops prayed with the people and conferred with representatives of different strata of society", the message recalls.
The Congolese Bishops, during the ordinary session of the Standing Committee held in Kinshasa from 22 to 25 February 2021, "given the importance of the information received", have taken into consideration "the possibility of making an appeal to the Head of State and making public a special communication on the results and on our recommendations in the hope of obtaining a great mobilization to fight against the root causes of this insecurity".
The violence of the armed groups that act for the occupation of the land, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, the unjust enrichment and the Islamization of the region despite religious freedom have left families in mourning, have caused massive displacements of populations and have caused significant losses of assets, damaging the economy of a region that is the breadbasket of the country. The victims are thousands: more than 6,000 dead in Beni since 2013 and more than 2,000 in Bunia in 2020 alone. There are also at least 3 million displaced people and about 7,500 people kidnapped.
"To this must be added the burning of several houses and villages, the destruction and closure of schools and health centers, the looting of administrative buildings, the looting of animals, fields and crops, this can be added the burning of several houses and villages, the destruction and closure of schools and health centers, the looting of administrative buildings, the looting of animals, fields and crops, etc. The perpetrators are usually armed groups and militia, some of which transmit an ideology close to "Satanism", denounce the Bishops.
The same situation of precariousness and insecurity that characterizes North Kivu and Ituri occurs in South Kivu, where, for this reason, "another mission of listening and closeness will be sent in the coming months".
"CENCO remains committed to supporting the process of building peace and social cohesion. By virtue of our pastoral mission, we will work, internally and externally, to consolidate the fraternity between peoples and communities, so that those who are now adversaries commit to taking part in the journey together", concludes the message. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 9/4/2021)