“More than a hundred people have already been killed, including children,” they said, adding that the situation in Bunia and the rest of Ituri Province “is much more complex, marked by recurrent and multifaceted crises of which the population is the main victim.”
“The public authorities are overwhelmed by events. Among the political leaders, some tend to cover up for the troublemakers out of choice or because of pressure from a community leadership,” the bishops said.
They continued, “The population has the feeling of being abandoned. The central government's promises to restore peace quickly are numerous, but many have often remained unfulfilled.”
The bishops expressed regret that “all our appeals through our various socio-political messages have not yet found a consistent response from the people concerned.”
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They recommended “a rethinking of the vision, approaches and structures at various levels: political, military, police, intelligence services, humanitarian, and Congo's partners.”
“It is urgent and necessary to move all military officers who have been involved in the various rebellions or armed groups in the East of the country, and to remove from the chain of command and logistics those who are considered to be relay agents for foreign armies,” the bishop added.
They also called “for the reinforcement of the strength of the regiments”, urging that they be provided “with adequate logistical means, including reconnaissance and attack drones, in order to reduce the loss of human life and material.”
The bishops advocated for “the establishment of a permanent framework for consultation for cohesion and peace in the East, led by a multidisciplinary scientific observatory, and the involvement of local leaders in raising awareness for peaceful cohabitation for the consolidation of intra and inter-community dialogue.”
“We recommend that international partners and countries that are friends of the DRC communicate more about their vision of peace in the country, and that they become involved in strengthening the certification mechanisms for agricultural and mining products that circulate in the region,” they added.
“CENCO remains committed to accompanying the process of building peace and social cohesion,” the bishops indicated, expressing their commitment to working to consolidate fraternity between peoples and communities, so that enemies may reach out to one another and adversaries may agree to walk part of the way together.
Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.