Bishops condemn “silent genocide” in Congo
14 November 2008
Congo’s bishops have warned that violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has all the hallmarks of a “silent genocide”. They fear it could destabilise the whole region if action is not taken.
Caritas food distribution at Mungunga camp near Goma. Credit: Caritas/Beatrice Giordi
The bishops said that the widespread massacres, targeted killings of the young and systematic rapes are taking place “under the impassive eyes of those who have received a mandate to keep the peace and protect the population”.
A force of 17,000 UN troops in Congo (MONUC) has been unable to prevent an upsurge in violence over the past three months. An increase in troop numbers is currently under discussion.
Caritas and many actors have asked that Monuc be given a clear mandate allowing use of force against those who commit violence in violation of peace agreements.
Some 250,000 people have fled the unrest in North Kivu province since August this year.
Congo’s bishops have condemned the laxness with which the international community has treated the violence in Congo, saying it must show more commitment to upholding international law and to increasing humanitarian aid.
“Our own governments have shown themselves powerless in the face of the extent of the situation,” said the bishops.
The bishops have demanded an instant cessation of hostilities and guaranteed security for people wanting to return home. They have also urged the protection of legitimate institutions which were established by free and fair elections in 2006.
Reflecting on the root of the current problem, they said that the hunger for Congo’s resources is part of the cause. The have urged the Congolese people not to give in to efforts to carve up their territory.
“The Congolese Government must put all its efforts into re-estabilishing peace,” said the bishops.
On Thursday, the bishops made an emergency trip to Goma and Butembo-Beni diocese to express their solidarity with people caught up in the violence.
The bishops have said that the Church is with the people of Congo and will help guide them on the path of reconciliation and peace.
Caritas has launched an emergency appeal to help provide people in eastern Congo with items such as food, blankets, hygiene products and cooking equipment.
Read the full statement (French).
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