“Give peace a chance,” Congolese Archbishop Over Insecurity in Lubumbashi

Archbishop Jean Pierre Tafunga of Lubumbashi in DR Congo

Persistent insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a cause for concern for the Archbishop of Lubumbashi who says attacks on the people of God in his Ecclesiastical jurisdiction have reached “unspeakable” levels. He has appealed to those behind the attacks “to give peace a chance.”

“The population of the city of Lubumbashi is experiencing a daily increase in insecurity that has reached a level that is unspeakable,” Archbishop Jean Pierre Tafunga of Lubumbashi said and explained, “Not a night goes by without us learning that rapes, robberies, killings and vandalisms are taking place, mainly on the outskirts of the city where modest populations live.” 

“Faced with this situation, and with the strength of our faith, I strongly condemn this persistent insecurity and call on the perpetrators of these acts to give peace a chance,” Archbishop Jean Pierre said in the Tuesday, May 19 letter addressed to the Catholic faithful, the political, administrative and security authorities, men and women of goodwill.

In recent months, Lubumbashi, located in the Upper-Katanga Province that borders Zambia, has recorded several cases of insecurity. On the night of May 4, houses in the Annexe neighborhood in Lubumbashi were broken into. The incident saw some people killed, women raped, and a baby carried away, only to be abandoned along the way in a bag.

Lamenting the events, the 77-year-old Congolese Prelate probed, “Who are these people who operate with impunity? Do they have a hidden agenda? What are their sources of supply of weapons, ammunition and vehicles?"

He continued, "Are the bandits in question stronger than the state security services? Who benefits from all these crimes? What then would have been the use of all the visits of the national delegations that came to our country, in the provinces, a short while ago, to supposedly analyze and solve the security issue?” 

Amid the persistent insecurity coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic in the central African country, the Archbishop of Lubumbashi has outlined a raft of measures that he considers appropriate if the situation is to be addressed.

To the population of Lubumbashi, the Archbishop recommends “vigilance and solidarity during these difficult times that our city of Lubumbashi is going through, because we are facing two formidable enemies: The Coronavirus and the armed bandits, both of whom bring insecurity.” 

“In the face of the invisible enemy that is the Coronavirus,” Archbishop Jean Pierre who is a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) said, “We recommend that we all redouble our efforts by scrupulously following the recommendations of our authorities to defeat this virus.”

Citing St. Paul’s letter to the Romans and the Psalms, the Congolese Prelate encouraged the people of God not to lose confidence in God because “hope does not deceive” and never to forget that “unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”

To the security personnel in the country, the Archbishop recognized their efforts in ensuring the safety of people and their property. However, he noted that their efforts “do not seem to live up to the people's expectations: the eradication of insecurity.”

He therefore recommended that the country’s security personnel do everything to prevent possible future insecurities saying, “We ask our authorities to redouble their efforts to bring security and peace back to our homes, for peace is the new name for development.”

To the political and administrative authorities, he recommended that “the function of the basic civil servants be upgraded: The Mayors, the heads of districts, streets, cells, blocks, so that they control the movements and activities of the people living in their entities.”                               

“Reassess the effectiveness of the Operations Coordination Centres, abbreviated OCC, which have been set up for some time by the provincial authority,” the Archbishop said, adding that the authorities should ensure “that the means made available to them (motorcycles, vehicles and even bonuses) are put to good use.” 

“May the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Peace, intercede for us and may the Almighty protect and bless our Province,” Archbishop Jean Pierre concluded.  

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