November 22, 2008
Say a Prayer for DR Congo on Sunday
Leading Congolese Christian calls for Day of Prayer on Nov. 23
In eastern DR Congo, the situation continues to get worse week by week. Yes, the hot side of the conflict has cooled a bit, but the humanitarian side of this political conflict grows more deadly day by day.
Congo's top Anglican leader has called the global church to pray for Congo tomorrow, Sunday, Nov. 23. Here's what the UK Church Times had to say:
THE Primate of the Anglican Church of the Province of Congo, Dr Fid?le Dirokpa, has called for this Sunday to be observed as a day of prayer for peace in the war-torn country, amid reports of continued clashes between rebel forces and government troops this week.
Government forces fought near the city of Goma with Tutsi rebels, who are under the leadership of General Laurent Nkunda, despite a ceasefire having been called.
Aid agencies estimate that about 250,000 people have been forced from their homes as a result of the escalation of violence in the past few weeks. They have warned of a humanitarian disaster. A letter from 44 community groups in the Dem?ocratic Republic of Congo has called for European troops to intervene, and accused the UN peacekeepers of being ineffective and powerless.
Dr Dirokpa's call for a day of prayer was echoed by the Bishop in Charge of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, the Rt Revd Pierre Whalon, who said on Tuesday that many of "our Anglican sisters and brothers . . . have been deeply affected, and are in the fore?front of relief efforts and peace?keeping". He described the situation as "underreported".
"In addition to the crisis in the Goma region, there are two areas of rebel activity in Congo which have not hit the news: the Dungu area in the north, where the Lord's Resist?ance Army has attacked villages and abducted adults and children . . . [and] close to Bunia, where a new militia group emerged in late Sep?tember, and displaced many people from their homes."
The Congolese Catholic Bishops' Conference issued a plea to the Vatican, talking of the "silent geno?cide" taking place. It also criticised the lack of action by the UN peace?keepers.
"The great massacres of the popula?tion, the planned extermina?tion of the youth, the systematic robberies used as a weapon of war . . . a cruelty and exceptional viol?ence is once again being unleashed upon the local people, who only ask that they can live in a decent manner in their homeland. Who is willing to take an interest in this situation?"
I checked with a few other sources, such as World Vision. Keep reading for more about the situation on the ground.
In a Nov. 18, 2008, press briefing, World Vision reports that child malnutrition is growing much worse:
Goma, Eastern DRC, November 18, 2008 - The number of children suffering from severe malnutrition in eastern Congo is rising dramatically as a result of the increased conflict, warns humanitarian agency World Vision. In one hard-hit area, World Vision estimates the number of children under the age of five suffering from malnutrition has increased ten-fold.
Before the conflict, nutrition experts were admitting one or two malnourished children per day at the World Vision nutrition center in Rwanguba, east of Rutshuru. Since fighting devastated the rebel-held territory near Rutshuru, between eight and ten children have been arriving every day.
"The cause of malnutrition used to be poverty," said Suzanne Kahamba, a local nurse working at the clinic. "But now so many people are displaced, they don't have land to grow crops. The conflict has intensified the effects of poverty ten times over and the situation has become dire."