A Bishop in the Democratic Republic of Congo is denouncing the failure of the government and a UN peacekeeping mission to halt attacks by Islamist insurgents that have left hundreds of people dead
In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Paluku Sikuli Melchisédech of Butembo-Beni, in the north-eastern part of the country, says the government’s inaction in the face of the crisis is either “weakness, or it is complicity.”
Attacks by armed groups, notably the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), have left hundreds of people dead and dozens more wounded, and displaced more than 40,000 people since January, according to the UN.
“I see no sign of the Congolese government being concerned,” said Bishop Melchisédech.
Protests have sprung up around the country calling on the government to put an end to the violence. Police and soldiers broke up one such demonstration on Friday, 30 April, using tear gas and whips to disperse crowds of high school students.
Bishop Melchisédech said, “[They are protesting] the completely ineffectual nature of the UN peacekeeping mission but [also] more broadly the continuing ongoing conflicts, which have never been sorted out and which are continuing in the east of the country.”
He denounced the ADF for pursuing a violent Islamist agenda, saying, “There is a grand scheme to Islamise or expel the local populations.” However, noting the “lucrative” activities of terrorist groups in the region, he said, “It is plain to see that Islamisation is not their sole motivation. This region abounds with natural resources and they are being exploited completely illegally.”
Last month, the bishops of the DRC spoke out against the violence in the east of the country. The bishops said, “The situation of insecurity in the East is a veritable crisis, which is affecting the whole country. We cannot hope for the development of this country as long as the East remains under the control of predators.”