Earthquake aftermath in the Democratic Republic of Congo “still critical”

.- Archbishop Francois-Xavier Maroy Rusengo has told the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that the Democratic Republic of Congo is still suffering in the aftermath of last month’s severe earthquakes.  Archbishop Maroy, of the Archdiocese of Bukavu, has appealed to “all people of goodwill” to aid earthquake victims.

A series of earthquakes struck the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the western region of Rwanda between February 3 and 5.  Measuring between 5 and 6 on the Richter scale, they have killed dozens and injured hundreds.  The aftershocks are still occurring.

Archbishop Maroy said the situation was “still critical.”  He told Aid to the Church in Need that many people are still sleeping out in the open because of the continuing aftershocks.  Some are “paralyzed” by a “psychosis” and a “climate of permanent insecurity,” being incapable of productivity.

Archbishop Maroy said many houses have collapsed.  Schools, churches, hospitals, health centers, religious houses, and educational establishments have also been severely damaged.  The estimated damage to Church properties and buildings runs into 7 million Euros, about $10.5 million USD.

Father Bunyakiri Mukengere Crispin, the rector of the seminary in Murhesa, said that the seminary has been damaged and his students traumatized.  He said they nonetheless have decided to continue their exams, spontaneously gathering on the soccer field to continue their studies.  The rector appealed for help to rebuild his seminary.

Father Felicien Nsabimana, a parish priest in Nkanga, told ACN that his parish church was split in half by the earthquake, and one of the halves collapsed.  He now celebrates Mass in the open.  Almost all the dwellings in his area have also collapsed, with the people still in a state of panic.

ACN’s Africa specialist, Christine Du Coudray, said the conflict-plagued region has once again “suffered the severest of trials.”  She also observed that the earthquake disaster and its aftermath have passed almost unnoticed in the media.  As soon as the aftershocks end, it will be necessary to consult with Archbishop Maroy and the Bishop of Cyangugu in Rwanda to decide on the most urgent areas of action. 

"But most important of all, we must not forget the people in the region and must also support them with our prayers," she said.

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