The burial of the displaced people killed on 1 Feb. 2022, in Ituri province in the DRC. The burial of the displaced people killed on 1 Feb. 2022, in Ituri province in the DRC.   (AFP or licensors)

Pope condemns “barbaric” attack on displaced people in DRC

Armed militias attacked a camp for internally displaced people in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo on Tuesday, killing at least 60 people.

Vatican News

Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram on to President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, expressing the ‘dismay’ of Pope Francis over the 1 February attack by armed militia on the site for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Plaine Savo Djugu Territory in the eastern province of Ituri.

At least 60 people, including more than a dozen children, were killed and more than 40 others injured.

"Heinous and barbaric act" 

Cardinal Parolin said the Holy Father “asks the Father of all mercy to welcome in His peace and light those who have died and to give comfort to those who mourn their loss”.  “He implores the divine gifts of healing and consolation on the wounded and the bereaved to whom he expresses his spiritual closeness and deep sympathy.”

The Holy Father prayed that the Lord grant courage and strength to the grieving families, as well as to all those helping to rescue the victims. He strongly condemns “this heinous and barbaric act which is a source of great suffering and desolation for the country”.  The Pope implored the gift of peace and fraternity for the region struck by great suffering and invoked God’s blessing on all the Congolese people.

UN and partners condemns attack

United Nations agencies and its partners working in the country have also condemned the attack. 

The site, which is managed by the UN refugee agency UNHCR and Catholic charity Caritas, hosted more than 20,000 IDPs including more than 13,000 children. Many of the displaced have fled elsewhere.

The attack, thought to have been carried out by a non-state armed group, occurred less than three months after the last deadly attack on the displacement sites of Drodro and Tche in the same area of Djugu Territory.  Some 44 people were killed in that attack, which forced tens of thousands of people to flee.

Around 230,000 people live in more than 60 displacement sites across the province managed by UNHCR and the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM).  Both agencies support the government to provide overall management of these sites and to coordinate humanitarian assistance and protection.

The DRC hosts 5.6 million displaced persons, most of whom reside in the eastern part of the country, in North and South Kivu, Ituri, and Tanganyika provinces.

05 February 2022, 16:30