The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Violence has so far claimed 1,116 lives between October 2014 and May 2016. Local NGOs wrote a letter to the President, denouncing their situation and demanding a solution.
Local civil society organisations have written to Congolese President Joseph Kabila , denouncing the ongoing killings of people in eastern DR Congo, particularly in Beni and Lubero (North Kivu Province).
There have been so far 1,116 deaths between October 2014 and May 2016. That’s an average of 60 killed per month, or two a day, points out their letter.
It says some 1,470 other people were abducted, while 34,297 families have been forcibly displaced or are dispersed. There are also numerous cases of sexual violence against women and children.
50 KILLED ONLY IN MAY
WWM reported that around 50 people were killed in various attacks within a week in May, causing thousands to flee the area.
In particular, locals say Islamist militants (ADF-NALU, also known as Muslim Defence International) were responsible. The material damage is 1,750 and 13 health centres burned down; 27 schools destroyed or forcibly abandoned, occupied by displaced people or by military or armed groups; several villages occupied by armed militiamen.
Along with the violence, the group says there are "collective and suspicious movements of populations of the same ethnicity and language, of indeterminate origin, with the intention of land occupation and dismemberment of the country", and "the systematic looting of assets and natural resources".
Those are themes that have persisted through what the BBC described in 2013 as the world’s bloodiest conflict since World War II, across Congo:“A conflagration that has sucked in soldiers and civilians from nine nations and countless armed rebel groups, known as the Great War of Africa, has been fought almost entirely inside DR Congo.”
The country has seen more than five million dead, and several million refugees. Women and girls, particularly, have paid a heavy price, as rape and sexual violence were widely used by both armed groups and government forces.
That is why the civil society representatives now ask the Congolese State to:
A CALL TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
The group also denounced the passivity of the UN’s peacekeepers (Monusco) and its special unit, which aims to carry out offensive actions to protect civilians.
They also called on the international community to declare as "genocide" the current massacres in the territories of Beni and Lubero, and to set up an independent investigation in order to identify the authors of the massacres and bring them to justice.
LOCAL CHURCHES, THE WORST AFFECTED
The ongoing violence has dramatically affected the local churches, as thousands have fled the area. Consequently, several churches have been closed because of lack of attendance.
The violence has also had financial implications, as members are experiencing hardship and economic difficulties. Some church leaders have also fled with their families, while others are struggling to survive and to provide counselling and trauma support to their affected members.
Many churches have lost hundreds of members, some even all of them. The leaders of the affected churches call for a prompt return of peace and stability in the region.
They also launched an appeal to the international community to provide relief and humanitarian aid to the displaced and other victims of the crisis.