Thursday, September 06, 2007
news from the democratic republic of congo
The BBC is reporting that a truce has been negotiated between rebels loyal to renegade General Nkunda and UN peacekeeping forces. The truce has taken place in Sake, which lies on the road to the capital of the Kivu province Goma, which is on the eastern boarder shared with Rwanda. People have been streaming out of Sake in attempts to walk the 30km to Goma. This region has been the locus of the heaviest fighting in the DR Congo, and is informed heavily by the conflict between Hutus and Tutsis. General Nkunda explains his presence as a protective force for the Congolese Tutsis, and there is some fear that as the rebels recede into the hills that Rwandan Hutus may follow.
Just over a week ago I arrived home from the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, I spent time in the province of Katanga - the most stable and economically prosperous area of the country and far to the south of the violence in North Kivu. I asked the people there if they feared a return to armed conflict. They seemed to think that the violence of the eastern portion of the country would not reach down into the southern part of Katanga. However, it is clear that the war is not far from people's minds. I heard it referred to mostly as "the time of crisis."
The United Methodist Church is alive and vibrant in Katanga Province, but it is not able to flourish beyond those boundaries because of instability and violence in the north and east. The church's presence in the south is a vital presence providing food for street children, homes for orphans, food for displaced persons, refugee aid, scholarships for post-secondary education, training and equipment for farming, training and equipment for various women's/girls' trades (sewing primarily), and of course churches for worship. The Democratic Republic of Congo is on my mind and I ask you to pray for that country - its people, its nonhuman animals, and its natural environment suffering from the effects of war and ill use of land. We as the church may not be able to move into the places hardest affected by war and violence at this time, but we can be present through our prayers.
For what UMCOR is doing in the Democratic Republic, click here.
For the BBC's full article, go here.
Here are just a few pictures from my trip to Lubumbashi and Kolwezi, both cities in Katanga. If you would like to use any of the pictures, please contact me.
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