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Appeal after fresh DRC strife

30 August 2013

PA

Aftermath: an Anglican church in Goma, east Congo, damaged by mortar fire last week

Aftermath: an Anglican church in Goma, east Congo, damaged by mortar fire last week

ANGLICANS throughout the world are being urged to support an appeal for $US 60,000 to help victims of rebel attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Bishop of Aru, Dr Georges Ande, in the Oriental province in the north-east of the DRC, wants to expand work with communities affected by continuing attacks in two areas in his diocese.

In the north, near the borders with South Sudan and Uganda, an operation in May by the Congolese army destroyed a rebel HQ, but insurgents continue to operate.

Two Anglican schools have been destroyed, affecting about 1200 pupils; and about 35,000 people fled their homes after three villages were attacked, and more than 50 people were killed. Two of the diocese's health centres do not have enough drugs or staff to meet demand. The diocese is supporting 65 rape victims, and its staff believes that many other women have not reported attacks because of a sense of shame, or fears of being divorced. The appeal would also support the diocese's nursing college.

In the west of the diocese, fighters from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have become active since they were driven out of Uganda five years ago.

Dr Ande said that the LRA had committed "unbelievable atrocities" against civilians, including sexual violence, murder, and mutilation. In his appeal, he said: "Suffering has become the daily bread in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It helps us understand how God's people suffered in Egypt under Pharaoh. We need more people like Moses. Thank you for the compassion you have always shown to God's people in Congo. God has been Emmanuel for us, and to him be the glory."

Figures from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs suggest that about 320,000 people were displaced in Oriental province, as well as more than 6500 refugees from the neighbouring Central African Republic.

Further south in the DRC, near the border with Rwanda, fresh clashes have erupted between government forces and members of the M23 rebel group outside the city of Goma. For the first time, UN forces that were brought in to stabilise the region joined in the shelling of rebel positions.

The fighting, after a three-week lull, prompted World Vision's advocacy manager in the eastern DRC, Frances Charles, to fear a fresh surge of refugees. She said: "I was concerned that the fighting could escalate. We have already seen intense displacement this year, with thousands of families fleeing their homes in the countryside to seek refuge in the relative safety of Goma. With hostilities breaking out within the city, we are likely to see many people having to move on again."

A spokesman for the UN peacekeeping-force MONUSCO, Felix Basse, said that it had also started patrols with two attack helicopters.

Details of the appeal are here

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