February 24, 2010

Caritas appeal for refugee crisis in North-West Congo

By |24 February 2010|

Caritas is providing humanitarian relief for 12,000 families forced from their homes by ethnic conflict in the north west of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo DR). The fighting is taking place in a remote part of the country. Over a hundred thousand people have fled their homes due to the violence. Caritas is helping both people internally displaced in Congo DR and about 8000 families who have crossed the border into neighbouring Republic of Congo (also known as Congo Brazzaville) Refugees have fled to settlements on the Oubangui river that divides Congo DR from Congo Brazzaville. The area they are in is only accessible by boat or plane. The relief work is a joint operation by Caritas members in Congo DR and in Congo Brazzaville. “These people lack everything. Food, clean water, household goods, school supplies…Fleeing the violence, they had to leave everything behind,” said Boniface Nakwagelewi, in charge of emergencies at Caritas [...]

December 2, 2009

Imagine compassion in a crisis: Congo’s killing fields

By |2 December 2009|

“All I want is for an end to this war so my family can return to our village,” said Sophie Kenzia. The people of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo were just aching to go home. They wanted safety, a dry bed and regular meals. What they got was rape, killing or a grim life in camps as they tried to escape fighting between the government and rebels. Sophie fled with her four children to a camp supported by Caritas. Tragically, she had a miscarriage on the journey. Caritas appealed for US $5.5 million to help 150,000 people like Sophie. Caritas distributed food and provided clothes, household items and toiletries to help people cover their basic needs. In December, Caritas brought a delegation of Congolese bishops to Washington, the UN in New York, Paris, Brussels, and Rome to plead for an end to the war. “End the killing fields,” the bishops urged. Rapes, targeted [...]

September 3, 2009

Goma suffers as Congo unrest continues

By |3 September 2009|

Seven people killed and 255 houses burnt down in rebel attacks in North Kivu, eastern Congo. The news to come from Caritas Congo yesterday was bleak, like it has been for months. First there were stories of conflict and displacements, then the stories of child soldiers and rapes. Even a volcano may now erupt near Goma in North Kivu, threatening once again the population. All this on top of a war which began in the 1990s in which an estimated five million people died. “The people of Goma have suffered a lot – especially in the years since 1993, when there have been inter-ethnic and political wars,” says Abbé Oswald Musoni, director of Caritas Goma. Fierce fighting between government forces and rebel groups flared up in August 2008. Over 250,000 people fled their homes in just a few months – adding to the two million people displaced since the previous year. Now, even though the [...]

Next steps in healing Congo

By |2 September 2009|

Pots, plates, cutlery, soap, shirts, blankets….the list of things you need if you’re forced to leave your home and possessions behind is endless. These are just some of the items Caritas has been providing over the past six months to the people who have fled their homes due to fighting between the Government and rebels in Congo’s troubled eastern region. “It’s intolerable that you have one and a half million people who haven’t got a home, aren’t protected, are exposed to sexual violence, haven’t got medicine or clothes…all this in a country which is rich,” says Dr Miteyo, national director of Caritas Congo. “It’s this contradiction which pulls at my heartstrings.” The breadth and depth of the crisis is hitting the people of Congo hard on every level. They not only have lost their homes and possessions, but their jobs are left behind, their fields go unplanted, their children risk being recruited [...]
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    Rape destroying Congo’s communities, says Caritas psychologist

Rape destroying Congo’s communities, says Caritas psychologist

By |2 September 2009|

Some of the rape victims who are brought to Caritas Congo are as old as 70. One of the youngest to require help was just three months old. “Some of the women who come to us are so badly damaged by the rape that they can no longer walk,” says Ange Mbala, a psychologist for Caritas Congo in Goma. Caritas Congo has counsellors who work in communities and are able to identify women and children who have been abused. The stigma attached to a sexual attack means that women may be reluctant to come forward and seek medical help. Type the words “Congo” and “rape” into a internet news search engine, and the number of stories seem endless. This week one report said that a three-year-old girl in eastern Congo died from horrific injuries after being raped by a rebel. Reports describe rape being used “as a weapon of war”. “It’s about destroying [...]

Urgent appeal for Congo

By |2 September 2009|

Caritas needs US $12 million to provide the basic needs of 400,000 people caught in escalating conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The conditions have sharply worsened for over one million people because of an increase in fighting between foreign militias and the government’s army. The militias include the FDLR militias (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) in North and South Kivu and Ugandan rebels called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Orientale Province (Eastern Province). Women and children are particularly vulnerable. Rape attacks against women and young girls have risen sharply. And 14.8 percent of children never live to see their fifth birthday. Over one in ten people suffer from malnutrition. IN-DEPTH Q&A with Guy-Marin Kamandji, Communications Officer for Caritas Congo War far from over in Congo as Caritas launch appeal 2008 Appeal Advocacy at the UN on the blog Caritas has launched a US $12 million appeal to provide people with food, household items like [...]

November 3, 2008

Mounting atrocities in northern Congo

By |3 November 2008|

Their villages have been burnt, their friends and neighbours killed and their children kidnapped from schools. Tens of thousands of people are now on the move in northern Congo, trying to stay one step ahead of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels who are hacking their way across the countryside, going from village to village and from home to home. “They don’t kill with guns, they kill with axes and machetes and knives,” says Bishop Richard Domba Madi from Dungu Doruma diocese. Those who have fled belong to Bishop Domba Madi’s diocese. The violence is pushing people from its northern reaches, near the Sudan border, deeper south where so far there are no rebels. They seek safety in villages in unaffected parts of the diocese, hoping people will take them into their homes. But the stories told by those who have fled the atrocities committed by the rebels strike fear into many people’s [...]

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