Three Issues Bishops in Central African Conference Want Addressed for Peace to Prevail

Members of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC) with President Évariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi. Credit: Presidency of the Republic of Burundi

Members of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC) comprising Catholic Bishops in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda have highlighted three challenges the people of God in their respective countries are facing, which they say need to be addressed for peace to prevail.

In their statement issued at the end of their May 29-June 2 Ordinary Assembly in Bujumbura, Burundi, ACEAC members voice their concern about insecurity, and economic hardships, and underscore the need for solidarity with flood and mudslide victims.

The Catholic Bishops say “security and humanitarian situation has only deteriorated over the last few decades, particularly in the wake of armed conflicts that have led to the massacre of civilians and the massive displacement of populations.”

“This worrying situation has taken a particular turn in certain provinces of Eastern DR Congo with the resurgence of the so-called M23 Movement,” ACEAC members lament in their statement that ACI Africa obtained on Friday, June 9.

They add, “This movement took up arms again at the end of 2021, plunging the region into violence and creating a very acute and complex humanitarian crisis.” 


Amid the security concerns, the Catholic Church leaders call on citizens in their three countries to “put an end to prejudice, mistrust, intolerance, hostility and violence everywhere.”

The Catholic Bishops in Burundi, DRC, and Rwanda call for the fostering of “peaceful coexistence, because, despite the geographical borders that delimit our countries and the ethnic diversity that characterizes our populations, we are all brothers and sisters equal in dignity.”

They describe the political leadership of the three countries as “the guarantors of peace for their respective nations” and call upon the leaders to “work together for lasting peace in the African Great Lakes sub-region.”

As a way forward, ACEAC members advocate for a “regional dialogue that includes local communities”, which they say needs “to involve the ecclesial organizations that accompany people on a daily basis in matters of common interest and in their peace initiatives.”

Regarding economic hardships, the Catholic Bishops lament, “The current situation in the ACEAC zone is having a very negative impact on human rights and the socio-economic situation.”

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“The population, already living in poverty, finds itself further impoverished and destitute,” the Catholic Church leaders further lament.

They emphasize the urgent need for “regional solidarity for the good of our peoples.”

Turning their attention to victims of the deadly floods and landslides that resulted in the death of hundreds of people in DRC’s South Kivu Province, ACEAC members recall the aftermath of the May 4 torrential rains.

“The humanitarian crisis caused by armed conflict was compounded by flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains, particularly in the Dioceses of Nyundo and Ruhengeri in Rwanda, and in the Kalehe Territory in South Kivu, where the disaster affected thousands of people, many of them dead and others missing,” the Catholic Bishops say.

“Added to this was the destruction of social and community infrastructures,” they further say, and continue, “The same applies to flooding in the Bujumbura and Uvira areas, where the rising waters of Lake Tanganyika have left many families homeless and living in very precarious conditions.”


They express “compassion and paternal and spiritual closeness to the bereaved and stricken families and assure them of our prayers, especially for those who lost their lives in these disasters.” 

The Catholic Church leaders call on governments, the international community and people of good will “to continue to come to the aid of the stricken populations”.

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.