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What’s going on in Congo?

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With our support of such a wide network of projects in north-east Democratic Republic of Congo, we in Semiliki are constantly aware of the dangers that our friends face. Sometimes the stories are so bad we won’t share them, but we thought a brief update on what is going on would help our supporters to be more aware of some of the recent challenges.

DRC was meant to have had elections last December, but dates slip very easily when democratic processes are not well institutionalised. An upcoming event on 22nd March in London will discuss this. Current politics are intransigent, and there is still no meaningful sign of a social contract between government and people for the delivery of essential services. So poor people are constantly having to be as ingenious as possible to gather together enough to feed their families, send children to school and pay for health. Churches play such a vital role in providing, on behalf of the state, education and health at more affordable prices. The quality varies as the churches themselves have so little resources. One of our aims in Semiliki is to support our partners with the Anglican church in north east DRC, provide first line health services, and meet the enormous needs of orphans, widows and victims of violence.

Conflict is an ever-recurring feature in Congo. It used to be more confined to the east, but has erupted in unexpected places like the normally quieter central Kasaïs. The eastern provinces of Ituri and North and South Kivu, where the projects we support are based, have seen renewed violence. It has been unsafe to travel on roads to Beni, Butembo and Kamango in North Kivu because of a militia group that has become more emboldened after 30 years of disruption. Our friends in Kamango recently heard heavy shelling whizzing over their heads from neighbouring Uganda, which they thought was aimed at them but that was a counter attack on a rebel base nearby. These rebels had carried out a brutal attack on a UN peacekeeping base.

In Ituri there was a terrible conflict between 1999 and 2006 involving ethnic groups but provoked by political events of the time. We had hoped and prayed that this was completely resolved, but since December there has been a sudden eruption of violence between different communities, including killing and burning of villages, and mass displacement. This has been well documented with satellite imagery. None of our friends can understand this return to conflict in areas that had been so peaceful, and many analysts suspect there are more sinister underlying reasons. The leader of the worldwide Anglican church, Justin Welby, who has visited our partners in Goma, raised a question in the UK House of Lords to highlight the upsurge in violence.

Your continued generosity helps us to support our partners in providing quality health services and compassionate care for some of the forgotten people of eastern DRC and helps us respond to urgent needs. We have recently, as just one example, provided money for medicines and perfusions to treat cholera outbreaks in Bukavu and Boga regions. The best way of financial support is by setting up a standing order or one off donation direct to our account by writing to our Semiliki Administrator Ruth, ruth.lockley@semiliki-trust.org.uk, or via our contact form.  You may also like to contribute to our appeal for kit for operating theatres (via the appeal site or directly to our account). We have now enough money to equip two and a quarter operating theatres! We hope to make the order in two weeks, so any last minute donations will be used very soon.

Opening of new operating theatre in Aru Cité Centre – needing equipping.

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