Episcopal Relief & Development Reaches Out to Partners in the DRC

January 29, 2013

Episcopal Relief & Development partnered with the Anglican Diocese of Bukavu to feed more than 1,700 displaced people over the holiday season. Hundreds of thousands have fled the ongoing conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and concerns over security in displacement camps have led many to seek shelter with host families. The Diocese of Bukavu, led by the Rt. Rev. Bahati Bali-Busane Sylvestre, has provided food and other supplies to people living with host families in Goma, in order to alleviate strain on household resources.

“The people of Goma have received the assistance with delight and thanks because it reached them in a particular season of Christmas and New Year,” wrote Bishop Sylvestre.

Bishop Sylvestre traveled to Goma on a pastoral visit with The Rev. Bulambo Wabenga Jules and the Rev. Byandi Mwilarhe Emile on December 27, 2012. The Diocese of Bukavu has been engaged in humanitarian response in Goma since intense fighting in the region resumed in May 2012.

December 17, 2012

As the humanitarian crisis continues in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Anglican Diocese of Bukavu’s relief efforts for internally displaced people (IDPs) in areas around Goma, a major town at the north end of Lake Kivu that was captured by M23 rebels in late November 2012. The rebels withdrew from the city after 12 days, on December 1, but remain active in the surrounding area.

Working through camp administrators, host families and a local medical post, the Diocese of Bukavu is distributing supplies of beans, rice, corn, oil and salt for approximately 1,350 people who have fled their homes due to the conflict. To lessen the health risks associated with overcrowding in camps and private houses, the Church is also providing soap and medical supplies to help prevent the spread of disease. These activities will assist over 1,100 displaced people in the Mugunga IDP camp and around 250 people staying near the Church’s medical post in Bigezi.

In May 2012, Episcopal Relief & Development made an initial grant to the Diocese of Bukavu to provide assistance for 250 people living in the Kanyaruchinya IDP camp or with host families. The Church focused their activities toward nursing mothers, elderly widows and orphaned children. Challenges included the rising cost of food due to the conflict’s interruption of normal trade and agricultural activities, and an increased risk of looting and assault due to lack of security.

The Anglican Diocese of Bukavu continues to pray for those impacted by the conflict, and for the speedy return of peace and stability in the region.

November 26, 2012

Unrest in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has spread since M23 rebels took control of the city of Goma on November 20, 2012. The rebels moved west around Lake Kivu, seizing the city of Sake the following day, and are continuing to head south toward Bukavu. According to the Anglican Diocese of Bukavu, Episcopal Relief & Development’s partner in the region, tens of thousands of people are fleeing violence and many are seeking assistance from the Church. Transportation, trade and utilities have been interrupted due to occupation of towns by rebel groups, leading to shortages of food and clean water and causing increased security concerns due to looting and assault.

Episcopal Relief & Development has reached out to the diocese to offer support for food, water and shelter for those who have been displaced.

While negotiations are ongoing with area leaders and rebel groups, Archbishop Isingoma Kahwa of the Province of the Anglican Church of Congo requests “prayers for peace and outcomes that will affect the people on the ground.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church has endorsed the call by Archbishop Isingoma and the Congo Church Association for a week of special prayer for peace in the DRC. To participate in the week of prayer (November 26 – December 2), please click here to download prayers and worship resources for the DRC.

Since April of this year, there has been a significant rise in violence tied to rebel groups in the eastern DRC. More than 320,000 people have been displaced, and 60,000 have fled to neighboring countries.

Episcopal Relief & Development has a long-standing relationship with the Congolese Church and has supported development programs including the NetsforLife® malaria prevention partnership. In recent months, the agency has made emergency grants to the Anglican Diocese of Bukavu to provide relief for displaced people and those who are hosting them.

Please continue to pray for those who have been displaced or impacted by violence, and for those who are ministering to them in this difficult time.

God bless Congo;
guard her children,
guide her leaders,
and give her peace,
for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
(prayer based on part of the South African national anthem; 
by the Rev. Ian Tarrant and the Rev. Tim Naish)