AFRICA/DR CONGO - Hundreds of dead, wounded and missing, serious damage to buildings: floods in the capital of the country that is preparing to welcome the Pope

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Kisantu (Agenzia Fides) - Twenty-four neighborhoods of Kinshasa, where some 12 million people live out of a total population of more than 17 million, have suffered serious damage due to the movements of earth caused by the floods that hit the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the night of December 12-13. The death toll remains provisional, but many children have undoubtedly lost their lives in the collapse of several houses in the Binza Delvaux neighborhood of Ngaliema. The local Church has expressed its condolences over the incident. For his part, the Bishop of Kisantu, Crispin Kimbeni, addressing the deanery of Kimwenza -located in Kinshasa but belonging to the diocese of Kisantu-, urged everyone to offer maximum solidarity to those in need of help. The Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, Ofm Cap., has also expressed his solidarity with those affected by the catastrophe.
"The country as a whole is experiencing a very critical period from all points of view", Msgr. Kimbeni told Agenzia Fides. "On a social level, the population is experiencing a degradation never seen before. Despite the fact that new buildings and housing construction fill the cities, suffering and poverty continue to increase. There is a huge gap between the rich, the emerging classes that scandalously increase their wealth, and the great part of the population made up of unemployed, despite having university and high school degrees”.
"It is precisely the unemployed who mark the measure of the degradation of the economic level of the population", explains Kimbeni.
"In fact, despite the apparent flourishing of the economic fabric, the population has enormous difficulties due to the lack of work, means of transport, adequate infrastructure for trade... The political context further increases the difficulties of the Congolese population: the occupation of Congo by neighboring countries, mainly Rwanda and Uganda, does not help the country to organize itself politically. "The international community continues to turn a blind eye to the situation in Congo, we risk witnessing an implosion of all of Central Africa. The Congolese fear being abandoned by everyone and want to defend themselves, thus developing an aversion against foreigners."
The country awaits the arrival of Pope Francis on January 31, 2023. "The preparations have never stopped", reports Msgr. Kimbeni, "because the hope of welcoming the Holy Father to our land, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has always been alive. The recent confirmation has prompted us to speed up and complete the works in Ndolo, where Holy Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, February 1. The entire population has enthusiastically and gratefully welcomed this gift that Pope Francis wants to give to the entire country, especially in this very particular historical period".
Bishop Kimbeni underlines the cooperation between the Church and the Government with a view to the papal visit. “In the diocese of Kisantu," says Kimbeni, "we are making fruitful progress. Numerous priests will be present at the various ceremonies organized. Among them, the mass on February 1 in Ndolo, the prayer meeting that will take place on the afternoon of February 2 in the Kinshasa cathedral."
According to estimates by local health officials, the diocese of Kisantu has a population of 1,155,742. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 14/12/2022)