Vigil for the victims of IDPs camps attack in Goma Vigil for the victims of IDPs camps attack in Goma  (ANSA)

DRC: Bishops condemn bombing of IDP camps near Goma

Following the 3 May twin bombing of the Lac Vert and Mugunga Internally Displaced Persons Camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s eastern region, which claimed the lives of at least 12 persons and injured hundreds, the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) has expressed its indignation and condemnation.

Stanislas Kambashi, SJ – Vatican City

At least 12 people, including children, were killed in twin bomb blasts that hit two camps hosting Internally Displaced Persons in eastern DRC. The 3 May bombings targeted the two camps of Lac Vert and Mugunga, near the provincial city of Goma.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, and the perpetrators have not yet been identified. The Congolese government, the United States and the Community of Southern African States (SADC) –the latter has deployed a force in the region, all accused the M23 militia group of being behind the atrocity.

Calls for an independent investigation

DRC’s Catholic Bishops under CENCO have called for an independent international investigation in a Statement made public this week.

For months, if not years, violent fighting between the M23 rebels, various militia and mercenaries against the Congolese army has caused a massive exodus of populations from their villages into camps. They are constantly on the move and live in fear of attacks.  

In the CENCO Statement signed by Secretary General Monsignor Donatien Nshole, the Bishops condemn the bombings as outrageous and a despicable act committed by “uncivilised persons.” They have since asked the African Union (AU) and the United Nations “to launch an independent investigation to establish responsibility and to help bring about an end to the killings. 

CENCO also expressed its bewilderment at the fact that the M23 rebels and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC- Forces armées de la république démocratique du Congo) are fighting in areas inhabited by displaced persons.

Rwanda is widely accused of supporting the M23 rebels. The Government of Rwanda has always denied this and dismissed accusations from the US and DRC Governments of involvement with either the M23 militia or the recent camp bombings.

Strong condemnation from the Bishops

Nevertheless, the Congolese Bishops were scathing in their Statement. They condemned “with the utmost vigour this barbarity which constitutes a denial of humanity and reminds perpetrators that human life is sacred and belongs to God who will not let this act to go unpunished,” read the CENCO Bishops’ Statement. The prelates invite the armed group, M23, to lay down arms “because one cannot claim to save the Congo by killing the Congolese people,” the Bishops assert. They also appealed to Rwanda to stop supporting the armed rebel group, M23. 

“CENCO sends its condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy, as well as to Bishop Willy Ngumbi Ngengele, M. Afr. (Bishop of Goma), and to the entire Diocese of Goma,” the prelates said. They wished the injured persons quick recovery and assured them of prayers “so that they find comfort and healing in the Lord.”


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08 May 2024, 13:25