Note: This page introduces the situation in DR Congo. Documents that support the DRC Coalition are available here
Northeast DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) has been a place of continuing violence since the 1990’s. The center for much of this violence is the province of North Kivu in NE DRC. While the violence has its roots in the Belgian colonial period, more recently the violence and atrocities have been tied to regional and national politics. Political leaders are known to foment conflict in the lead up to elections. United Nations’ peacekeepers are alleged to sell their weapons to rebel groups. Regional wars led to massive immigration, with some DRC city populations growing tenfold in a short period of time. These are just a few of the factors behind the violence, all of which point to the complexity of the problem and the difficulties faced by relief agencies and peacekeepers.
In recent years the violence has increased in other provinces to the point where in January 2018 the United Nations declared DRC a level three emergency, putting in on the same level as Syria and Yemen. (See a news report here). DRC is now the most expensive UN mission in the world, costing an estimated US$1 billion per year. In Kasai Province the violence has erupted in the past four years. World Relief estimates about 250,000 internally displaced people in Kasai facing starvation and violence.
In Ituri Province ESADER reports that “the fighting intensified in February 2018, with deadly attacks in Djugu territory.
Then, on March first, there was an attack on the village of Maze that killed 33 people, according to the authorities, and 49 dead according to the Catholic Church. Another attack targeting two other villages was recorded on March third. Two days later, 13 villages in the Hema community were burned around Bunia, capital of the province. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), since the beginning of January, more than 42,000 Congolese refugees have landed on the Ugandan shores of Lake Albert to escape attacks.”
Complicating the violence, the President of DRC, Joseph Kibala, has been refusing to step down. This has led to protests around the country and charges that Kibala has an interest in perpetuating the violence to justify staying in power (See Aljazeera report here).
The ongoing conflict makes for a very challenging environment for relief agencies. Among those operating in this region are World Relief, World Vision, Caritas, and the local NGO ESADER (Ensemble pour la SAnté et le DEveloppement holistique
(New) Global Coalition Confronts Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo
In many parts of the world, relief agencies, church networks and local NGOs are challenged to coordinate and work together. In DRC, a group of church leaders met with leaders from World Relief, the WEA, ESADER and Micah Global to discuss forming a DRC Micah Network. During the meeting, conversations began regarding the potential to work together as a coalition. The participants represented different types of organizations, both within DRC and globally, with different capacities and aims, but a shared commitment to Integral Mission. The group agreed to form a collaboration and sign a Memo Of Understanding to guide how they will work together. The strategies for the coalition represent the differences in capacities and reach of these organizations:
(1) Provide emergency relief for those in crisis,
(2) Conduct advocacy to raise awareness and support for the people of DRC, including presentations and side events to the UN Human Rights Council,
(3) Build capacity for the church networks and local church leaders.
The unifying strategy for the coalition is working with local churches as the agent through which culture change, peace and reconciliation, long-term recovery and development have the greatest hope. Integral Mission represents the theological foundation for churches engaging in their communities not as extensions of NGOs but as agents of God’s mission to the world, acting as churches, committed to demonstrating mercy, justice and humility.
United Nations Human Rights Council
The WEA maintains permanent missions with the United Nations in New York and at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The WEA team in Geneva is working with the new DRC Coalition to develop a presentation and side event for the September 2018 Human Rights Council meeting. (Side events are meetings and programs outside of the formal UN meetings that provide an opportunity for governments, UN staff and NGOs to meet and discuss issues in depth.) The objectives for the side event are in discussion and likely include calls to investigate atrocities, actions to increase awareness globally, and increased funding for humanitarian needs. WEA is seeking NGO partners to join the side event.
- Gunfire in DRC Churches Following Protests (London Times)
- UN Condemns Government Use of Force Against Protesters (New York Times)
- Tracking Burned Villages in the Congo (New York Times)
- Thousands Flee Horrific Violence in DRC (Aljazeera)
- 13 Million Need Aid in DRC (Aljazeera)
- Ethnic Violence in NE DRC Displaces 60,000 (Washington Post)
Agency Reports and Blogs