Bishops from eastern Congo have criticised the failure of their government and the United Nations to act against “genocide, jihadist fundamentalism and Balkanisation” in the country, which is widely considered Africa’s most Catholic.
“For more than 20 years, the eastern populations have fallen victim to war and insecurity – in 2010, the victims numbered six million dead, and the toll continues,” said the bishops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern South Kivu province.
“In recent times, the violence has reached an untenable intensity close to breaking point, as the killers dream up and implement ever crueler practices. … These are true acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
In a pastoral message, the bishops said they had been moved by the “profound distress” of “populations bruised by raging violence”.
They said villages had been burned with impunity by armed gangs, leaving local populations facing “famine and misery”, while criminals wielding “machetes, knives and axes” had cut throats, mutilated children and disemboweled pregnant women.
“We pay homage to Congolese officers and soldiers who have shown devotion and shed their blood in this cause. But security, peace and territorial integrity do not, curiously, seem to have been priorities for our public authorities,” said the message, signed by Archbishop François-Xavier Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu and bishops from Goma, Butembo-Beni, Kindu, Uvira and Kasongo.
“The international community has been observing events with its drones,” the bishops said. “Must we wait for the mayhem to become generalised for the same international community to rain a deluge of fire on this region under the pretext of combatting jihadism?”