Displaying items by tag: DRC
Over a dozen lives are claimed in nightly raids in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On 1 March Italian diplomats and World Food Programme workers were killed in an attack on a UN convoy. Officials blame the Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, for this incident - the latest in a disturbing trend. Armed groups have killed over a thousand civilians in eastern DRC since late 2019. ‘In 2021, we’ve seen mass attacks by these Muslim extremists,’ said Voice of the Martyrs Canada. There are more than 100 armed groups operating in DRC. Not all of them are Islamic, but those that are have one goal in mind. They are radical, and even though they may have lost some control in places like Iraq and Syria they’re doing whatever they can to cause destruction, particularly where a large majority of people are Christian.
The ministry of health declared an Ebola epidemic in the N’Zerekore region of Guinea on 14 February, following seven confirmed cases and three deaths. US government agencies are closely monitoring the epidemic, and coordinating with the Guinea government, the World Health Organisation, and other partners to provide rapid, localised outbreak control. This outbreak follows a declaration of an outbreak on 7 February by the DRC’s minister of health. The previous West African outbreak in 2014-16 killed over 11,300. The source of infection is under investigation. It is important to monitor one’s health for 21 days after travelling to an area experiencing an Ebola outbreak.
Between 20 November and 3 December, at least thirty Christians were killed, and ten young women and girls raped, in attacks on five villages by the extremist Allied Democratic Forces. Locals described scenes of terrified Christians flooding into the streets as the jihadists surrounded churches, armed with guns, clubs, machetes, swords and axes. Fourteen Christians with severe wounds are in hospital in a critical condition, and at least fifteen people were abducted. A survivor, hiding in the latrine, watched through a vent as his wife and three children were murdered. A pastor In Mayitike said the militants tried to force villagers to convert to Islam before killing them. When his family refused to convert, they shot his wife in the head and cut their four children into pieces with a sword.
Father José Arieira de Carvalho, a Portuguese priest who has lived in the DRC for over a decade, reported a critical situation in the north-eastern part of the country ‘where rebel groups roam across the region, looting and murdering. Recently the Lisasa village suffered a violent attack by rebel troops, claiming at least 21 lives, including that of catechist Richard Kisusi. There are reports that a Catholic church was defiled, several houses were burned down, and a medical post was looted. Bishop Sikuli Paluku Butembo-Beni called upon UN forces stationed in the region to protect the civilian population from attacks. In view of the escalating violence, the need for protection is becoming ever more pressing. The wealth of minerals has transformed certain regions of the country into a battleground for violent factions, bringing hardship and suffering to the people. It is believed there is a conspiracy between internal and external players to obscure ruthless exploitation of natural resources (mining, oil, woodland, and land).
2019 saw Felix Tshisekedi elected president in disputed elections marred by violence. Ethnic tensions between Lendu and Mema saw 1,000+ deaths and another 1,300+ abducted or kidnapped, while the Ebola crisis took more lives. 2019 is being violently repeated in 2020. On 22 July authorities started cracking down on peaceful critics, journalists, and political party members using pandemic emergency measures as a pretext to curb political protests(see). Since 13 July hundreds have been demonstrating for the dissolution of parliament. This has been organised by the Catholic Church (see). Authorities are attempting to contain several health crises: coronavirus, the largest measles outbreak in the world, and two Ebola epidemics (see). Also rural violence is escalating: a Christian worker writes, ‘The route from Aru to Bunia is still not safe. If people want to reach Bunia they are accompanied by soldiers. But those who were killed last time were accompanied by soldiers who were also killed.’
DR Congo is one of the ten poorest countries in the world, coping with violence, disease, hunger, and the mass displacement of people caused by years of civil wars and cross-border conflicts. Partly through impunity and political impotence, conflicts continually flare up in the border areas, and East Congo remains a hotbed of unrest. Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks mostly children. Left untreated, complications include blindness, brain swelling, diarrhoea, and severe respiratory infections. Congolese health officials say that comprehensive vaccination programmes are the only way to stop the epidemic from spiralling out of control. Ill-informed opposition can derail such plans. Measles has killed 6,000 people in a year, but its severity is overshadowed by the world's second-biggest Ebola epidemic on record - killing over 2,230 so far. Although new infections have slowed recently, the WHO warns that the virus is likely to resurge.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has visited areas affected by the Ebola crisis in the DRC, which surfaced in August 2018 and has killed 2,169 people so far. Following strict anti-contamination procedures he toured hospitals transformed into Ebola treatment facilities with quarantine units, screening centres, and blood-testing tents set up to combat the disease. The archbishop flew to Ebola-affected cities with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). They fly in the most difficult places in the world, landing on the most challenging runways but with the highest safety standards. MAF said the situation is complex, with the threat of violence now increasing. Flying is a safe and trusted way to deliver blood samples, vaccines, scrubs, gloves and oxygen tanks to those working to combat the virus.
Over 200 people including women and children were abducted and a church mission hospital and shops were looted when Islamist extremists raided the town of Boga, in this majority-Christian country. Bishop William Bahemuka said the Muslim ADF militia had attacked the town in the early hours. During the three-hour assault, there are conflicting reports about how much the army resisted the militants, as no casualties were reported. People are terrified. Families are traumatised and grieving over their abducted loved ones. The ADF has never been active in Boga, so people are confused and can’t understand the current situation. Bishop Bahemuka said, ‘I appeal to people of good will everywhere to lobby their home governments to put pressure on our government to stabilise the security situation. We also appeal for a massive outpouring of sustained prayer from Christians everywhere.’
The number of new Ebola cases is at worrying levels and now the virus has reached Goma City, the Central Africa transport hub, where 2 million people live. A Pastor, who had become ill in Butembo travelled to Goma on 14 July and died in its treatment centre. All passengers on the bus the Pastor had taken to Goma have been traced. Butembo is one of the towns hardest hit by Ebola. The pastor held regular services in seven churches there and laid his hands on worshippers, including sick people. Over 1,650 people have died and about 700 people have recovered from Ebola. Currently there are 2,489 cases. The movement of people around or through Ebola zones is a huge challenge for health services. Provinces affected by the virus are characterised by poor infrastructure, political instability and ongoing conflict involving scores of armed militia groups and community mistrust of national authorities and outsiders. The World Health Organisation has sounded a global Ebola alarm see.
The second-largest Ebola outbreak in history has killed 97 children, and 811 people have symptoms. ‘We are at a crossroads’, said a spokesperson for Save the Children. ‘If we don't take urgent steps to contain this, the outbreak might last another six months, if not the whole year.’ The fatality rate is currently 63%. There is misinformation in communities, and mistrust of medical responses is an urgent and real concern. People have disrupted funerals because they didn't believe the deceased had the virus. Aid workers are threatened because it is believed that they spread Ebola. ‘We must scale up our efforts to reach the vocal youth and community leaders to build trust and to help us turn this tide. Treating sick people is essential, but stopping Ebola from spreading is just as important.’ Children are at the greatest risk of dying.