DRC: Priest: The world has abandoned our terrorised people

Violence in the east of DR Congo (© ACN)
Violence in the east of DR Congo (© ACN)

A SENIOR Catholic priest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has denounced what he describes as international indifference in the face of acts of terror sweeping parts of the country.

Father Marcelo Oliveira, a Combonian missionary priest responsible for North Kivu eastern province, spoke to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) days after an attack on a church in Kasindi, a town in the region.

“Terror is widespread”, Father Oliveira told ACN.

Criticising what he described as a lack of international attention to poor and defenceless communities, Father Oliveira issued a desperate cry for help.

He said: “It’s one village here today, another there tomorrow, and all this in silence.

“And this is what gets to us, as missionaries, seeing the silence of the international community, the deafening silence, while human lives are massacred.”

Father Marcelo Oliveira (© ACN)

Widespread fear among DR Congo’s population was also noted by Father Oliveira, especially in areas affected by various armed militias, whose presence over the past few years has caused huge security problems in Africa’s second-largest country.

He said: “Attacks are common in this area of North Kivu…and the rebels have the habit of attacking villages and spreading terror among the people, who are then forced to flee and hide in the forest until the militias leave again.”

Father Oliveira added:

“Their goal is to get people to run, so that they can take part of their land, which is full of natural resources.”

He said that “terror is everywhere” in eastern DR Congo.

The priest’s comments come after attackers armed with improvised explosives struck on 15th January at a Protestant church in Kasindi, near the border with Uganda.

At least 15 people died and dozens were wounded after a bomb, which had been placed in the middle of the congregation, was detonated.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) insurgent group, which claimed responsibility, reportedly chose to carry out the attack on a Sunday, as the church was full and celebrating baptisms.