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‘Silent Genocide’ unfolding in the Congo: CEN 11.28.08 p 7. November 30, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of the Congo, Church of England Newspaper, Terrorism.

Read it all at the Church of England Newspaper.

A “silent genocide” is unfolding in Central Africa, church leaders have warned, as soldiers loyal to rebel General Laurent Nkunda march upon government troops holding the city of Goma in the Kivu province of the eastern Congo.

In a statement released through the Congo Church Association, Bishop Bahati Balibusane of Bukavu warns that “over one million people” have been displaced by the fighting. “Men, women, children are living outside, in schools, in Churches and in some hospitable families. They don’t have water, food, materials, clothes, utensils and latrines. These people living in hardship are exposed to hunger, illness and death of some fathers, mothers and children,” he wrote in a call for “urgent spiritual, material and financial support.”

Church aid agencies report the fighting between Congolese troops and the rebels has led to widespread atrocities. The Barnabas Fund reports ” young men [have been] killed, women raped by retreating government troops, children kidnapped and forcibly recruited as child soldiers to fight a war that is not their own, soldiers and militias [are] pillaging and looting, and hundreds of thousands of displaced people [are] fleeing for their lives.”

Catholic bishops in the Congo report the UN’s 17,000 strong peacekeeping force has proven ineffectual. 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,” the bishops said according to the Catholic charity, Caritas.

Church leaders have been shuttling between Kinshasa and Kigali, hoping to broker a ceasefire between Congolese troops and General Nkunda. Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi last week led a delegation of church leaders from the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi to visit Presidents Paul Kigame of Rwanda and Joseph Kabila of the Congo.

“It is impossible for us to preach the love of God in Jesus Christ while keeping silent in the face of the effects of such a serious humanitarian disaster as the suffering of children fleeing into the bush with or without their parents, women atrociously raped, abused and sometimes buried alive, old people and innocent civilians cowardly killed, and the malicious destruction of property and community life,” the 5-man ecumenical delegation led by Archbishop Ntahoturi told the Congolese president.

The All Africa Conference of Churches commissioned Archbishop Ntahoturi, the Anglican Bishop of Byumba in Rwanda the Rt. Rev. Onesphore Rwaje, Bishop Dieudonné Mbaya Tshiakany, moderator of the National Synod of the Church of Christ in Congo, Bishop Jean-Luc Kuye-Ndondo wa Mulemera, president of the Church of Christ in Congo in South Kivu, and Dr Kakule Molo, president of the Baptist Conference of Central Africa, to intercede with government leaders.

On Oct 23 leaders of churches from the Great Lakes region met in Nairobi and called upon their governments to end the fighting. “People are tired and want an end to the war,” and “dialogue costs much less than armed confrontation,” they said.

Tribal jealousies, greed, and unresolved disputes from the 1994 Rwandan genocide are fueling the fighting. Following the 1994 genocide, a number of radical Hutus fled Rwanda for the Congo, forming the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and have continued their depredations against Congolese Tutsis.

All the while rival warlords have clashed over control of the Congo’s natural wealth in the vacuum left by the collapse of the Mobutu regime. The UN meanwhile has stood back from the fighting, and has not disarmed the ‘genocidaires’ of 1994 nor the warlords.

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