Insecurity in North Kivu Province Cause for Concern for Catholic Bishops in DR Congo

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) during their 59th Plenary Assembly. Credit: CENCO

The situation of insecurity in North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a cause for concern for the Catholic Bishops in the Central African country who are calling on those involved in the violent conflict to come “to their senses and seek dialogue”.

In their collective statement issued May 28, members of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) said they were “surprised” that the violence is taking place “just a few weeks” after the parties expressed their commitment to peace at a meeting in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

Intensified flighting between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and the M23 rebels “is causing so many casualties on both sides,” CENCO members said, adding that they were “following with great concern the deterioration of the security situation in the Province of North Kivu, particularly in the territories of Rutshuru and Nyiragongo.”

“We are surprised that these clashes come just a few weeks after the Nairobi meeting where the Heads of State of the Great Lakes sub-region and the armed groups committed themselves to join efforts to bring peace to the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” they said.

While welcoming the good intentions expressed by the participants in the Nairobi meeting, CENCO members have asked “them to be sincere and truthful in this commitment by conforming their behavior to what has been decided and proclaimed.”


“The people of the Great Lakes region aspire to a lasting peace through better cooperation that can benefit present and future generations,” Catholic Bishops in DRC said.

Last week, thousands of people are said to have fled their homes as fighting between FARDC and M23 rebels continued in the territory of Nyiragongo, near Goma, the capital of North Kivu, Reuters reported.

The latest wave of violence in North Kivu province comes as the country prepares to welcome Pope Francis in the first leg of his two-African-nation pastoral visit that is to see him proceed to South Sudan in an ecumenical trip alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace.

In their May 28 collective statement, CENCO members said, “The Congolese people, who have suffered too much and whose tears never cease to flow because of conflicts over partisan interests, are mobilizing to welcome the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in July, who is coming as a peacemaker and as an apostle of reconciliation.”

“It is neither just nor honorable to try to prevent these people from this moment of happiness which will be a source of blessing for our country, the DR Congo,” they further said, and regretted the fact that “the nightmare of war has lasted too long.”

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“CENCO asks the warring parties to come to their senses and seek dialogue,” they said, adding that those involved in the violence “should immediately put an end to this umpteenth battle, which only pushes the Congolese people into misery.”

The Catholic Bishops further said, “Arms have never been an effective solution to claims, even political ones.”

“Indeed, the use of violence gives a pretense of peace to those who use it. At the same time, it sets the stage for future violence. The history of our sub-region reminds us of this,” they added in their May 28 collective statement.

CENCO members urged “competent authorities and the international community, in particular MONUSCO, to use all the means at their disposal to ensure that this part of the country regains peace as soon as possible without giving priority to those responsible for these atrocities.”

They asked the people of God in DRC to “encourage our courageous FARDC soldiers who are at the front and to denounce any person identified as an enemy of peace.” 


“May the People of God in Goma not give in to panic, but continue to mobilize to give the Holy Father a welcome worthy of him,” CENCO members said in their May 28 statement, and implored, “Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Consoler of the afflicted, may God grant the grace of peace to our country, the DRC.”

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.