Congo bishops appeal to UN to end killings fields
11 December 2008
Two Congolese bishops are visiting the UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday to call on the international community to stop the “silent genocide” taking place in the east of their country.
“A true humanitarian drama, seemingly a silent genocide in the east of RD Congo is taking place under the eyes of all.” Credit: Caritas/Taylor Kakala
Bishop Fridolin Ambongo of Bokungu-Ikela and Bishop Fulgence Muteba of Kilwa-Kasenga want the UN to strengthen its peacekeeping forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They say the 17,000 force is not enough to stop atrocities from taking place.
The bishops are also pushing for the implementation of existing peace accords between Congo’s warring sides. They will be meeting on Thursday with John Holmes, the UN humanitarian chief.
At a conference at the headquarters of US Caritas member, Catholic Relief Services, last week, the bishops said assistance was urgently needed to stop an upsurge in fighting.
A statement by the Congolese Bishops’ Conference said, “A true humanitarian drama, seemingly a silent genocide in the east of RD Congo is taking place under the eyes of all.”
The bishops’ statement describes massacres, targeted killings of the young, systematic rapes and the displacement of two million people who have fled violence.
Bishop Muteba said the illegal exploitation of tin and coltan, a metallic ore, is a major reason for the conflict. He asked U.S. officials to support dialogue in his homeland and to increase the volume of humanitarian aid.
“We need a peaceful approach to the exploration of mineral in the country,” he said.
Sister Marie-Bernard Alima, executive secretary of the Congolese bishops’ justice and peace commission, who is accompanying the bishops said that over six million people have been killed in Congo over the past decade.
“It’s a number equaled only by World War II, but it is a forgotten tragedy,” she said.
The bishops will meet with Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer at the UN, as well as experts, NGO, ecumenical and faith-based representatives.
Caritas has appealed for US$5.5 million to provide humanitarian assistance to the homeless in Congo over the next few months. It has so far been providing food, shelter, medical assistance as well as counselling to rape victims.
See how you can help Caritas continue its work in eastern Congo.
Michelle Hough on +39 06 69879752/+39 334 234 4136 or email@example.com