Caritas appeals for peaceful elections in Congo

By |25 November 2011|

On 28 November 2011, Congo held its second democratic election since a 1998-2003 war in which as many as 5 million people are estimated to have died.

Despite a formal peace accord eight years ago, Congo still faces simmering conflicts with rebels in its east.

Caritas Congo and the Church in Congo have been part of peacebuilding efforts throughout the country to campaign for a peaceful election and monitored the November 2011 elections.

The election commission delivered millions of ballot papers to more than 50,000 polling stations, in a country of 2,345,000 square kilometres (77 times the size of former colonial ruler Belgium).

Although some violence was reported during the week of November 28, Caritas hopes the outcome of the elections is a peaceful Congo.

Caritas Internationalis Ryan Worms is monitoring the elections with Caritas Congo. Please follow his reports on our blog.

Media contact mobile : +39 335 823 4233 and email worms@caritas.va

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    Caritas launches a comic strip about violence and hope in Congo

Caritas launches a comic strip about violence and hope in Congo

By |6 April 2011|

Available in French Click here to read the entire comic strip In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), violence against women is a frequent problem. Rape has become a weapon of war in the country. In many instances, armed men will overrun a village, attack the inhabitants, rape the women, destroy crops and leave in their wake a path of terror and destruction. For those who manage to escape, they must return to their villages in the aftermath and try to heal the wounds left behind and re-build their communities with a culture of peace.

Caritas working to rebuild lives in Congo

By |31 March 2010|

Caritas works in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by providing humanitarian relief to victims of the conflict through Caritas Goma.

Life as a survivor of sexual violence

In ten parishes, Caritas Goma has set up centres where rape victims can get help from psychologists.

“The most important part of my work is to give my patients hope and self-confidence. They can then obtain a microcredit,” said Frédéric Lulizene, a psychologist working in this programme. “If we don’t manage to do that, they will remain victims for life.”

Caritas employs “Justice and Peace” consultants in each parish. They encourage women to share their problems. Very often, rape victims don’t ask for help by fear of being stigmatized.

Sexual violence has become a major problem in Congo. Following to a survey from the United Nations, 8.000 women were raped in 2009 only in the East of the country.

The project is supported by Caritas Australia.

Life as a […]

Q and A on Congo’s six million killed

By |31 March 2010|

More than six million people have died as a result of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1998.

We asked Joseph Donnelly, Caritas Internationalis Permanent Delegate at the UN in New York, if the international community is closing its eyes? 

JD: A multi-million dollar UN-peace keeping operation has been in Congo for 10 years. More than 22,000 men and women have been sent. The international community is making efforts, but the strategy may not be right. How can it be that the number of civilians dying and in extreme need is still rising? How come we have the worst humanitarian crisis in the world there since the Second World War? The peace force is not effective. Something else is needed. The Congolese Bishops Conference has been saying this all over the last year. The focus of international support needs to focus on the protection of the civilians.

Why focus on […]

Expulsions from Congo and Angola cause humanitarian crisis

By |1 March 2010|

Some arrive barefoot, others in rags and all of them exhausted and without possessions. Tens of thousands of people are suffering hunger, disease and hardship as Congo and Angola take part in a tit-for-tat immigration quarrel involving mass expulsions.

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 […]

Six million dead in Congo’s war

By |24 February 2010|

Over six million people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the deadliest conflict since the Second World War.

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 […]

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 […]

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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