Category Archives: Congo

The current situation on iIDPs in Africa

June 20, 2017
www.afjn.org
By Kpakpo Serge Adotevi (AFJN Intern), Edited by Yashi Gunawardena (AFJN Intern)

In Africa, more than 13 million people are currently on the run in their own countries. We at Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) refuse to stand by and let this crisis remain silent much longer. Despite the obvious link between internal displacement and refugee flows, policymakers tend to focus mainly on refugees while internally displaced people (IDPs) remain largely neglected.

The Current Situation on IDPs in Africa
Photo source: UNHRC

According to the International Displacement Monitoring Center (IMDC), there were 3.5 million new displacements linked to conflict, violence and disasters in 47 African countries in 2015. That is an average of over 9,500 people per day losing their livelihoods and being uprooted from their homes and communities. Africa currently has many more internally displaced persons (IDPs) than refugees. In fact, there are nearly five times as many IDPs as refugees in Africa and they are found all over the continent. The countries with the most internally displaced persons are:

  • Sudan: 3,300,000
  • Democratic Republic of Congo: 2,350,000
  • South Sudan: 2,100,00
  • Somalia: 1,300,000
  • Central African Republic: 415,000
  • Burundi: 100,000

Internal displacement has reached daunting proportions in Africa as a result of protracted conflicts, massive human rights violations, natural disasters (flooding, famines and drought), urban renewal projects and large-scale development projects. Meanwhile, conflicts remain the number cause of displacement in Africa. To better understand the causes of conflict in Africa, please read the article “Triggers of Conflict in Africa” by AFJN Policy Analyst Jacques Bahati.

An emerging driver of displacement in Africa is land grabbing. At AFJN, we have witnessed first-hand how land grabbing causes people to be displaced, relocate, and have trouble adjusting to their new environments. Land grabbing creates unintended tensions and conflicts in communities that were once peaceful and sustainable. This issue is one of our focus campaigns. Click here to learn more about land grabbing. We also invite you to join us in this cause by donating on our site. We thank you for your contribution.

Congo bishops fault politicians for failed mediation

NCR by Jonathan Luxmoore  |  Apr. 22, 2017

Three weeks after the Catholic Church gave up mediating in the conflict-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, the country’s bishops are defending their record and blaming the impasse on politicians. However, attacks on clergy and parish buildings have also raised questions as to whether the church has come too close to politics in what’s widely considered Africa’s most Catholic country.

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Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa arrives with other bishops Dec. 21, 2016, to mediate talks between the opposition and the government of of President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. (CNS/Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

“The bishops’ conference mission has been interpreted by some as an attempt to distract attention from issues of the hour,” said Msgr. Jean-Marie Bomengola, secretary of the church’s Social Communications Commission.” But one shouldn’t miss the target when analyzing events here. The failure of negotiations should be blamed on the political and social actors who didn’t show a spirit of compromise. It’s to them that demands for an explanation should be addressed, and on whom pressure should now be exerted.”

Catholics in six archdioceses and 41 dioceses make up around two-thirds of the 67.5 million inhabitants of the Democratic Republic of Congo — according to the Vatican’s Annuario Pontificio yearbook, published this month — and runs an extensive network of hospitals, clinics and farms, as well as around half of all schools.

The country, formerly known as Zaire, has known little stability since gaining independence from Belgium in 1960, and up to 6 million people died in a series of 1995-2003 wars, fought mainly over Congo’s rich natural resources.

Last summer, the bishops’ conference launched a mediation bid after opposition leaders accused President Joseph Kabila of seeking to cling to power by delaying autumn elections.

An initial settlement in October wasn’t accepted by some opposition groups. So the talks resumed before the Dec. 20 expiry of Kabila’s second and final term, and the outcome, in the final hours of 2016, was an accord witnessed by foreign diplomats.

This allowed the 45-year-old president to stay in power until elections in late 2017 alongside a government headed by an opposition-nominated prime minister, with a National Transition Council monitoring the electoral process under veteran opposition leader Étienne Tshisekedi.

In a pastoral letter, the bishops said the accord reflected a “consensual and inclusive political compromise that sets out a realistic route,” and they warned that the whole Democratic Republic of Congo risked “plunging into uncontrollable disorder” if the accord failed.

However, negotiations to implement it have run into trouble.

Continue reading Congo bishops fault politicians for failed mediation

DRC tense as police clash with anti-Kabila protesters

Police and demonstrators battle in Kinshasa as talks between President Kabila’s government and opposition fall apart

Kabila’s mandate ran out in December, sparking violent protests at the end of last year [Reuters]

Congolese police fired rounds into the air and launched tear gas canisters to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters in Kinshasa on Tuesday after talks between the opposition and President Joseph Kabila‘s government fizzled out.

Unrest broke out in the Democratic Republic of Congo‘s capital after Catholic bishops withdrew from their role as mediators between the government and opposition in talks aimed at paving the way for delayed elections later this year.

Demonstrators, some burning tyres at city crossroads, took to the streets in several areas in Kinshasa.

A Reuters news agency witness saw opposition members gathering at the home of the late Etienne Tshisekedi, the main opposition party’s former leader, during a news conference with his son, the new Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UPDS) party leader, Felix Tshisekedi.

Many shops remained closed and some schools called parents to collect their children

Kabila’s mandate ran out in December but polls were not held because of what the government said were budgetary constraints, sparking violent protests at the end of last year in which security forces killed at least 40 people.

DRC’s conference of Catholic bishops (CENCO) helped negotiate a December 31 deal aimed at avoiding a political crisis by ensuring an election this year to elect Kabila’s successor.

In January, the bishops warned the deal was at risk of unravelling if politicians did not act quickly to reach compromises and implement it.

The bishops stepped aside on Tuesday after progress on the deal stalled, raising the prospect of renewed violence in a country that has suffered a succession of wars and rebellions.

“We think that there’s no longer anything to do,” Donatien Nshole, secretary-general of CENCO, told Reuters. “We have given all our time and all our energy, and in the meantime, pastoral work suffers.”

Kabila has ruled the mineral-rich central African nation since his father’s assassination in 2001. His critics accuse him of deliberately delaying elections in order to remain in power.

Catholic priests, religious face wave of violence in DR Congo

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The Congolese Bishop’s Conference has helped to broker a peace deal that could arrange for the peaceful transition to power

Nearly half of the Congo’s 67.5 million people are Catholic. Previously, nearly 6 million people died in the 1996-2003 conflict over the nation’s transfer of power.Following recent attempts at brokering peace between the government and political opposition leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Catholic priests and religious are facing violent backlash around the country.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic aid society that works in the country, Catholics have experienced a slew attacks on churches and convents. In particular, a Carmelite Convent and a Dominican Church were both ransacked in late February.

Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, the Archbishop of Kinshasa, told the organization that the incidents “lead one to believe that the Catholic Church is being targeted deliberately, in order to sabotage her mission of peace and reconciliation.”

 “Along with all bishops, we denounce these acts of violence, which are likely to plunge our country further into unspeakable chaos,” he said.
The attacks follow recent attempts by the Catholic Church in the DRC to mediate between talks between the government of  President Joseph Kabila and the opposition. The opposition to President Kabila and claims of a constitutional crisis follow after his refusal to step down from office at the end of 2016.

However, after delays for the funeral of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi and other conflicts, the peace agreement has all but dissolved, according to some reports. Presidential elections are now expected to take place at the end of 2017.

“Politicians ought to acknowledge with humility, before their nation and the international community, their political tendencies and the immorality of their self-serving decisions,” Cardinal Monswengwo said in a statement about the elections.

The attacks have continued into March. According to Crux, 25 Catholic Seminarians in Malole in the south of the country had to be evacuated by UN peace-keeping forces by helicopter after armed troops attacked the seminary. The attackers were part of a militia loyal to former tribal leader Kamwina Nsapu, who died in August 2016.

 For the Catholics, the violence has been terrifying.

“They systematically broke down the doors to different rooms and destroyed everything inside. They entered the teachers’ rooms and burned their belongings,” Father Richard Kitenge, rector of the seminary, told Agence France-Presse.

Recently, the Church has also lead anti-corruption initiatives in the province and local area. The animosity towards the Church also extends outside of the church or convent walls.

“In the street, it’s not unusual to hear threats against the Church,” Father Julien Wato, the Dominican priest of Saint Dominic’s Church, the Kinshasa church vandalized in February said in a statement after the event.

Nearly half of the Congo’s 67.5 million people are Catholic. Previously, nearly 6 million people died in the 1996-2003 conflict over the nation’s transfer of power.

Continue reading Catholic priests, religious face wave of violence in DR Congo

The DRC Elections: the Electoral Commission’s Chairman Explains

AFJN

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The DRC Elections: the Electoral Commission’s Chairman Explains

In March the President of the electoral commission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mr. Cornielle Nangaa, was in Washington, D.C. to meet with partners and share with them the status of the electoral process in his country. The presidential election, one of the eleven elections required by law in the DRC, is currently the main concern of the opposition, pressure groups, religious institutions and the international community. During Mr. Nangaa’s address to civil society and pressure groups at the DRC Embassy in Washington he explained some key facts and answered a number of questions which are summarized below. Continue reading The DRC Elections: the Electoral Commission’s Chairman Explains

DR Congo: Gunmen kill priest who denounced corruption

Independent Catholic News

congofrAn Assumption priest, Fr Vincent Machozi, who for several years documented human rights abuses in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was murdered on Sunday night by armed gunmen, shortly after he posted an online article denouncing the involvement of the Congolese and Rwandan presidents in the massacres of innocent civilians.

A native of eastern Congo and a School of Theology student from 2006 to 2012, Fr Machozi worked closely with the Boston University (BU) Pardee School of Global Studies African Studies Center on outreach efforts in the war-torn country. Continue reading DR Congo: Gunmen kill priest who denounced corruption

DR Congo at ‘critical juncture,’ amid rising political tensions – UN envoy tells Security Council

UN News Centre

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23 March 2016 – The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is at a ritical juncture, with rising political tensions ahead of elections which could lead to violence if left unaddressed, the top United Nations official in the country warned the Security Council today, while highlighting key issues for consideration as it renews the UN’s mandate there.
‘Credible and meaningful political dialogue’

“First, credible and meaningful political dialogue is needed to overcome the impasse in the electoral process,” said Maman Sidikou, the Head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), referring to presidential and legislative elections scheduled for November of this year. Continue reading DR Congo at ‘critical juncture,’ amid rising political tensions – UN envoy tells Security Council