People die while the UN and state fail to act, say bishops in Democratic Republic of Congo

Bishops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have criticised governmental and United Nations failures to tackle “genocide, jihadist fundamentalism and Balkanisation” in the country.

“For more than 20 years, the eastern populations have fallen victim to war and insecurity,” said the bishops from eastern South Kivu province in a pastoral message, continuing, “in 2010, the victims numbered 6 million dead, and the toll continues.”

“In recent times, the violence has reached an untenable intensity close to breaking point, as the killers dream up and implement ever crueller practices. These are true acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the bishops added.

In the world’s deadliest conflict since the Second World War, up to 5.4 million people were killed in the country, roughly half of which’s 70-million-strong population is Catholic, between 1995 and 2003, and militia violence has continued throughout the mineral-rich country.  

U.N. forces helped government troops defeat Tutsi rebels in 2013, and earlier this year the Congolese army launched an offensive against Hutu insurgents, but the bishops, although recognising that the U.N. has backed initiatives to secure peace, have questioned the failure to prevent a series of massacres since late last year.

While paying homage to those soldiers who fought to protect civilians living under threat of massacre, Archbishop Francois Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu and his fellow bishops observed that the government risked being viewed as an accomplice in the violence since “security, peace and territorial integrity do not, curiously, seem to have been priorities for our public authorities