A wave of violence still haunts the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last November a Tutsi rebel group clashed with government militia killing several civilians caught in the line of fire. Although the Tutsi leader, Laurent Nkunda, has since been arrested and is being charged with war crimes, another rebel group from Uganda is causing death and mayhem in the North Kivu region.
The Lords Resistance Army, led by self-proclaimed prophet Joseph Kony, massacred 400 people during a Christmas celebration in a church. Many children have been kidnapped and then trained as child soldiers. Other attacks in January raised the death toll to 620 and more than 100,000 people have been displaced in the lawless region.Patrick Nicholson
We really need to see the government of Congo and the International community bring peace there, so we can start rehabilitating the communities providing counselling and putting some of the child soldiers back into their homes, uniting them with their families.
Caritas Internationalis has launched an appeal for 500,000 dollars in aid to the region. They are currently helping at least 60,000 people in the Congo with basic needs and have set up several programs to rehabilitate child soldiers. Patrick Nicholson
The way of training these children is to often make them kill their own family members, use drugs and brainwash them. So reintegrating an 8 year old who has been through that is a very difficult and slow process and a delicate one.
Caritas also hopes the international community pays more attention to the delicate situation in many Sub-Saharan African countries. The upcoming Papal visit to Africa is bringing much needed positive attention to the continent.Patrick Nicholson
Caritas InternationalisHopefully it will be a year for Africa and the Catholic Church through the Synod meeting, SECAM and the Popes trip to Africa and hopefully what will be put in the spotlight is the extraordinary work church staff are doing on the ground in Africa.
Meanwhile the Lords Resistance Army is still at large in the Congo after Ugandan armies pushed them out of their base settlements. The cult-like rebel group is one of the most feared in Uganda and is now gaining that same reputation in Congo.