AFRICA/DR CONGO - Bishops of Bukavu Ecclesiastical Province: “Insecurity is endemic and the state is absent”

Wednesday, 17 April 2024 bishops   armed groups   violence  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "Insecurity has become endemic" say the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bukavu (comprising the dioceses of Bukavu, Butembo-Beni, Goma, Kasongo, Kindu and Uvira) at the end of their meeting held from 8 to 14, April in Butembo (North Kivu).
"Insecurity has become endemic with a series of killings even in broad daylight, the encirclement of the city of Goma by the M23 supported by Rwanda and the paralysis of the economy through a strategy of isolation and suffocation of large and small towns and cities", said the Prelates, who also point out that the Congolese army has ceded its positions and logistics to the rebels. In Goma, the capital of North Kivu, the security situation is deteriorating not only due to the activities of the M23 militias from outside (see Fides 13/2/2024), but also due to the violence of those who are supposed to protect the civilian population. In recent weeks, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) have regularly been accused of murder or robbery. Police arrested three soldiers and two regular army-allied "Wazalendo" ("Patriots," in Swahili) militiamen over the murder of three people in a street robbery on April 10. The Bishops also deplore "in the Beni region the partial or total closure of some parishes as a result of the insecurity caused by the Islamists of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) (see Fides 24/6/2023). "We also deplore the emergence of the smuggling by cocoa thieves at a time when the price of white gold is rising on the London Stock Exchange," the bishops continued. "All this is happening because the Congolese state is absent and we, the governed, are left to our sad fate, and we see no signs that the current leadership is thinking about the well-being of the citizens in the near future," said the bishops. "Despite holding elections, the Congolese state remains weak and ineffective. One must ask whether this behavior does not contribute to the plan of "balkanization" and the dismemberment of the Democratic Republic of Congo, despite the fact that the population has already categorically opposed it," they emphasize. To overcome these challenges, they call on the Head of State to quickly establish a government composed of competent and honest people. "Those in power must stop managing the land as private property and no longer see the resilience of our people as a weakness but as a refusal to suffer an unjust and planned death", the bishops warn. As for the international community, Catholic prelates denounce its policy of "double standards" in dealing with Congolese political issues. They call on the international community to "understand once and for all that the Democratic Republic of Congo is neither for sale nor in a state of anarchic exploitation." (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 17/4/2024)