Congo Update: Tuesday, July 10
Though fighting between national soldiers and rebels has quieted, frustrated members of the Congolese populace are creating their own violence. Impatient with their government’s inability to defeat the rebels, and angry because of apparent Rwandan support for the rebels, some Congolese students and young men have begun attacking Rwandan civilians living in Congo. Because of their frustration with Congolese President Kabila, these angry young men have also attacked local people who are wearing Kabila campaign t-shirts. Unfortunately, some of the poorest citizens of Goma wear these free campaign t-shirts that were distributed during the last election because they are the only shirts they own. As always, the most vulnerable people suffer the most in any violent conflict.
With the very real possibility that rebel insurgents may find their way into Goma from various entry points, UN security forces have issued directives that no NGO vehicles are permitted to move north from Goma (where our new friends are), and all NGOs must provide contact information for expatriate (foreign) staff members so they can be protected. NGO means “non-governmental organizations,” such as World Relief and other humanitarian organizations. Additionally, emergency security centers have been established in three locations to shelter people in the event of extreme violence in Goma. This indicates the current level of threat and uncertainty.
One major concern: It has been announced that on Wednesday there will be a meeting between the Congolese government and the rebel leaders at the African Union in Addis Ababa. Unless there is a comprehensive agreement, resumed conflict is likely. The current “calm” is an uneasy calm, at best.
The World Relief Congo Country Director sent these words this morning: “We appreciate all prayers sent in our direction and especially for our dear brothers and sisters in Rutshuru, Kiwanja, Rubare, Kako, Rwanguba and other communities whom many of you have met. This is a very tense and stressful time and it is only God who can help us through ‘the shadow of the Valley of Death.’ God bless and keep you all!”