Pope calls for peace in Congo, as tens of thousands of civilians are displaced
December 5, 2012.(Romereports.com) These women are asking for help… The group may be small, but it echoes a calling heard across the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For about five years now, an ongoing war has killed millions of people. Thousands of civilians have been forced to flee, and in recent months, the fighting has intensified.
During Wednesday’s general audience, Benedict XVI called for the fighting to stop.
“Troubling news continues to arrive regarding the grave humanitarian crisis in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which for months now has been the scene of armed conflict and violence.”
The fighting involves government troops, rebels and independent militia groups. Politics is part of it, but the fight is also about controlling the country’s mineral resources.
A rebel group known as M23, has been accused of displacing thousands of civilians. On November 20th 2012, it took control of the provincial capital of Goma.
“M23 has apparently grown significantly in numbers and there are over the past few days and there are other groups operating in the area which raises the likelihood of recruitment of children.”
Even though the conflict is in the Congo, it also involves troops and rebels from many neighboring countries. One on side Congo’s government is getting support from Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe. On the other, rebels are backed by Uganda and Rwanda. As the fighting continues, displacements are rising.
“I therefore renew my appeal for dialogue and reconciliation, and invite the international community to take all action necessary to attend to the pressing needs of the population.”
Peace deals have been signed, but in the end, they’ve been unsuccessful. The UN’s Security Council took action by imposing sanctions. In the meantime, the heavy fighting is preventing humanitarian agencies from reaching tens of thousands of displaced people, who live in or around those affected areas.