DR Congo Government Engages Religious Leaders in Coordinated Efforts against COVID-19

Religious leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo during their meeting with President Felix Tshisekedi to strategize over COVID-19 pandemic

As governments across the globe put in place measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has reached out to religious leaders in the Central African nation to support initiatives being undertaken in fight against the pandemic.

“President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi wants to take advantage of the trust that religious leaders enjoy on the part of their followers to correctly convey messages and mount actions in the direction of the fight against this deadly disease that both sides have presented as the common and invisible enemy,” reads in part a press release from the Presidency issued at the end of a meeting that brought together faith-based leaders from different religious denominations Monday, April 20.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the meeting, the head of the delegation of religious leaders, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kinshasa explained that the meeting was aimed at ensuring coordinated efforts in combating COVID-19, which he described as a “common and invisible enemy.”

“We came at the invitation of the Head of State himself because as you know, he is developing strategies to fight against the coronavirus pandemic and he wants to involve everyone in this fight,” Cardinal Ambongo said and added in reference to President Tshisekedi, “He thought it was time to engage religious denominations in this all-out battle against the common and invisible enemy which is the coronavirus.”

Besides educating their respective faithful on COVID-19, faith-based institutions also have a humanitarian role to play, Cardinal Ambongo, a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin told journalists and added, “We are a credible institution; the government has reached out to us to help in the fight against this global pandemic.”


The Cardinal who also chairs the Platform of Religious Denominations in DRC also expressed the desire of religious leaders to be actively involved in the fight against COVID-19 by raising awareness to their faithful through various channels and communication media.

Though Religious services are suspended, he said, “we continue to communicate with our people through the modern means of communication at our disposal.”

The country has recorded at least 350 cases of COVID-19; 25 have died while 39 have recovered.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency has warned that the latest rounds of violence in the eastern parts of the DRC could unleash terrible consequences for the country as it grapples to initiate a new fight against the deadly coronavirus.

The recent attacks in North Kivu and Ituri provinces are reported to have displaced more than 35,000 people in recent weeks including some 25,000 in villages south of Lubero territory.

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More than five million people have been uprooted by conflict within the DRC’s borders, the single-largest internally displaced population in Africa. The country also hosts over half a million refugees, fleeing unrest and persecution from the neighboring countries.

These attacks hamper humanitarian access, hinder assistance to displaced people, and disrupt vital coordination on COVID-19 prevention and sensitization, UNHCR has reported.

The country is also recovering from an Ebola outbreak while struggling to assist victims of floods in the city of Uvira, in South Kivu province, where 23 people were killed and thousands displaced on April 17.

The 60-year-old Congolese Cardinal also highlighted the effects of COVID-19 preventive measures on the population especially the enforced lockdown in some cities saying, “Many of our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, are suffering because since we took these few measures, there are people who have nothing to eat. Some people are staying at home; they do not know what the next day will be like.”

“We have something to do because humanitarian assistance is part of our mission,” the Cardinal added.


He said that the fruits of the encounter between DRC President and faith-based leaders will become visible in the days ahead.

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.