Missionary mutilated in the Congo not afraid and willing to return


Sister Presentacion Lopez Vivar, a Spanish missionary who was wounded on October 28 during an armed confrontation in Rutshuro, Congo, said this week she is “not afraid” and is “willing to return to the African country to serve the needs of its people.” She made the remarks during a press conference at the hospital where she is recovering after doctors had to amputate both of her legs.

Sister Presentacion said she felt good physically and was strong, and she took the opportunity to call for “an increase in humanitarian aid” to the Congo, saying assistance up to now has been “insufficient” in order to meet the needs of the thousands of sick and displaced people who are suffering the consequences of the armed conflict.

Despite the attack, the superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Gerona, Mother Urbana Sanchez, explained that the community in the Congo is “very respected” for the neutral position they took during the conflict, as well as for their work in health care.  “It was an accident, they didn’t mean to hurt us, as people on both sides know and respect us. In fact, after the incident, the soldiers entered the house and took care of Sister Presentacion,” she said.

Sister Presentacion, who doctors say has made a fine recovery, underscored the “extreme state of emergency” that exists in the Congo and that its government should take an active role in the situation.  “Illnesses are spreading and the displaced don’t know where or to whom to go,” she stressed.

She also pointed out the “gravity” of the situation, especially for the child soldiers who she called the “principal victims of this war.” “They are captured when they are very young and they are forced to fight without any kind of training, for this reason many families decide to marry them quickly in order to prevent this,” the Spanish missionary sister said.

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