Francois...and the Congo

I’ve been worried. Haven’t heard from Francois in some time and usually that means he has gone into Africa, usually the Congo to rescue men, women, children. Sometimes it is two years before we can connect but we always do and I always worry because though he is not my own, he is my son…his daughter my goddaughter. Today I receive an alert regarding the Congo and its danger…and all I can do is pray. I want it to be enough but sometimes it seems so little….

The Episcopal Public Policy Network
EMERGENCY ALERT: Conflict in the Congo Strands Bishop and Church Delegates. Tell President Bush to Increase Pressure on Parties to Sign Peace Agreement

Late last week, a rebel uprising in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo stranded Bishop Henri Isingoma and 150 delegates to an Anglican Church diocesan synod meeting in the town of Boga. This came on the heels of a fresh wave of violence that has forced thousands of people from their homes in Africa’s third largest country, where two wars and subsequent fighting have claimed more than four million lives since 1994.

President Bush and his Administration must continue to push, as they did at the UN last month, for an end to the violence.

Rebel attacks in northern Congo have intensified in recent weeks, largely in response to violence perpetrated by the northern-Uganda-based Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), whose long campaign of violence in Uganda has reverberated to other countries in the region, particularly the DR Congo, the Central African Republic, and the Sudan. Late last month, 90 school children in the northern Congo were abducted by the LRA and tens of thousands were displaced from their homes as a result of increased attacks. According to Frederick Ngadjole, liaison officer for the Anglican Church in the Congo, people have been forced “to run for their dear lives in various directions.”

The Anglican delegates from Bukiringi have returned to their homes following the attacks. However, many found that their houses and community institutions had been raided and looted – some for the fourth or fifth time. According to one report shared with the Episcopal Church Center, “The remaining delegates from the Gety/Isura/Aveba area have traveled with Bishop Isingoma and other delegates on the road west to Eringeti, using three vehicles and five motorbikes. They slept on the road last night and the road is in a very bad state.”

The present wave of violence that has affected the Anglican Church and many other Congolese in recent weeks is a product of instability brought on by the Uganda-based Lord’s Resistance Army, which has waged a two-decade campaign of war, abduction, and terror in northern Uganda. The LRA and the Ugandan government have been in the final stages of peace negotiations for many months, but progress at the moment appears stalled. President Bush met last month at the United Nations with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and discussed the LRA Conflict. Click here to send a message to the President urging his Administration to follow up on that meeting by working with the UN and regional governments to advance peace negotiations, protect civilians, and develop a strategy for bringing the leaders of the LRA to justice.

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