DR CONGO: Thousands fleeing war set up camp
Salesian missionaries provide shelter and aid to those displaced by war
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo*, are reporting that the war between the regular armed forces and the rebels of the M23 group, accused of being supported by some neighboring countries, has caused thousands of people to flee toward the city. Mostly women and children are suffering and dying.
Thousands of people from the area north of the city of Goma have come to the playgrounds surrounding Don Bosco Ngangi. They are seeking peace and security and have set up a camp for displaced people in the center’s three sports areas and on the fields of neighboring communities. Men, women, and children who are fleeing the combat zones in the Rutshuru Territory, North Kivu Province, are visibly tired, hungry, and traumatized.
The situation is dire as there are not enough supplies for people and this area was not set up for a camp like this. There are no latrines, drinking water, food or firewood. During the first day, about 30 trees were cut down to build more stable shelters and provide wood for cooking. In addition, about 10 food plantations of local residents were damaged. Supplies are desperately needed and Salesians are calling for help.
Father Aurélien Mukangwa, Salesian provincial delegate for the eastern zone of the Central Africa Province, resides in Goma and recently released a statement about the ongoing situations. He wrote, “We have just returned from a patrol completed as far as Kilimanyoka to learn about the conditions of the people displaced by the war, who are still without assistance, and especially the situation of the displaced youth and children. We also went to Kanyarucinya parish for a discussion with the pastor who has already referred an orphan to our Don Bosco Ngangi center. It is difficult to witness, unable to intervene, the misery to which so many innocent people are being forced. There are more than 2,500 displaced and homeless families.”
Fr. Mukangwa requested, “That is why I ask you, dear brethren who are in Goma, to be open and willing, according to your possibilities (and as a community) to do something for the displaced youth, in collaboration with the Project Office of the AFC-EST Delegation. The time has come when we must go out to meet the youth, our target recipients, in the existential peripheries. I invite you to go and see for yourself so that you can see this for yourselves. Let us unite in prayer for peace in the east of our country.”
Salesian missionaries in the Democratic Republic of theCongo have responded with support and humanitarian aid. Salesians noted “Let us make this situation known and, according to our possibilities, let us bring humanitarian aid and call for peace in the Great Lakes region. And let us pray both for the victims of this situation, and for those in power.”
Salesian missionaries have been working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for more than 100 years ensuring that the most vulnerable children are not forgotten. Salesian primary and secondary schools and programs lay the foundation for early learning while Salesian trade, vocational and agricultural programs offer many youth the opportunity for a stable and productive future.
Despite its vast material wealth, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has long been a very poor nation. Half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line living on less than $1 a day, especially those in rural communities. Because of ongoing strife and violence within the country, more than 8.5 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. More than 4.1 million Congolese are now displaced with 620,000 seeking refuge in neighboring countries. More than 7.5 million people do not have enough food to eat.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)
Salesian Missions – Democratic Republic of the Congo
UNICEF – DR Congo
*Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.