Congo: missionary says: "1,600,000 people at risk of starvation"

 A missionary working in Bukavu, has warned that more than a million and a half people are at risk of starvation over the next few months.

The missionary told Fides: "The humanitarian tragedy in North Kivu will last even longer. The rainy season has come and the fields that should be tilled and sown are abandoned. There are 1,600,000 people who rely on international aid for their survival. In a matter of three months' time, they will be able to sow once more, but they will need another three months for the harvest to come. In the meantime, there is the entire population of North Kivu left to feed, who would otherwise die of starvation. I often wonder whether the international community's attention will be constant and if they will continue helping the refugees in this new war." (For security reasons, Fides has withheld the missionary's name.)

The missionary is stationed in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu, which borders North Kivu. "In Bukavu, the people are worried, as the tragedies of Goma could be repeated in Bukavu. With that said, the situation here in the city is calm," the missionary said.

Goma is the capital of North Kivu, now in the hands of troops led by rebel general Laurent Nkunda. Many of the people living in refugee camps had fled there with the advance of the rebel armies.

"Nkunda has worsened the situation, forcing the refugees to enter Goma. And he has not wished to take over the city, preferring to wait until the terrible living conditions of the population force the government in Kinshasa and the international community to sign an agreement with him," the missionary said.

"Unfortunately, this is what is occurring with the behavior of the Congolese troops who have abandoned their defensive posts and have turned on civilians with violence and looting."

The human tragedy should not mask the causes and responsibilities of those who have instigated this new war. "Nkunda began his offensive drive at a time when the 'Amani' plan was about to take effect," our source explained. The "Amani" plan, which is linked to the Goma Accord of January 2008 (also signed by Nkunda), calls for the regrouping of areas, for the various armed groups of Kivu, in order to further proceed with their disarmament and their members' reinsertion in society.

"Instead of peace, Nkunda has brought war. Among his followers, there are those who had run for office without obtaining positive results and now these people are using violence to reaffirm themselves," the missionary said. "In this region, there have always been voices who call for the constitution of a new state in North and South Kivu, led by Nkunda. However, the local people would never accept living in a state like that. In recent years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has made notable progress in terms of peace and democracy, and for this reason they would certainly never allow a plan of this kind to take effect," the missionary concluded.

Source: Fides

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