Meeting of Pope Francis with victims of eastern DRC : your suffering is my suffering (the sovereign pontiff)

Meeting of Pope Francis with victims of eastern DRC : your suffering is my suffering (the sovereign pontiff)

The sovereign pontiff met on Wednesday afternoon with representatives of victims of atrocities perpetrated in eastern Congo where several local and foreign armed groups are raging. He also received representatives of refugees of several nationalities, including a Burundian from the Mulongwe camp based in South Kivu. He listened to them, prayed with them and for them. Pope Francis told them that “your suffering is my suffering”. Those concerned thanked the head of the Vatican City “who came to console us”. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

Very attentive and for a long time, Pope Francis listened to testimonies of the victims : children, women, men from different localities in the eastern region of the vast Central African country.

As if to show them his special attention, to some he gave his hand, offered a rosary, to others a medal before blessing them.

There are many women who have witnessed the ordeal to which armed men have subjected them. This is the case of this woman who raises her arms, showing her amputated limbs, the consequence of an attack of extraordinary violence.

Bijou Makumbi Kamala is a teenager from Goma, capital of North Kivu province. She was kidnapped by armed men who kept her for a year and seven months. Although she managed to escape, she says she gave birth to twin girls. This fruit comes from a rape.

The list of evils is long : rape, murder, mutilation… Young girls like Léonie Matumaini, from Beni remember the horror she witnessed.

“All members of my family were killed in my presence and executioners gave me the knife used to kill them so that I could hand it over to the soldiers”.

But she forgave them. “I place in front of the Cross of Christ the winner the knife identical to the one that killed all members of my family in my presence”.

Bijou, whose life sank the morning she came across armed men on her way to the river in Walikale territory, is living an unbearable nightmare.

“My children will never know their father”, laments the one whose attacker is a leader of a militia.

“My other friends who were kidnapped with me that day never came back. I don’t know if they are dead or if they are still alive”, doubts the young mother.

Aiméda remembers being kidnapped and made a sex slave in Kahuzi Biega park.

In addition to gang rapes, she says the victims were forced to eat human flesh.

“Every day, five to ten men abused each of us. They made us eat corn dough and the flesh of men”, she testifies.

Ladislas Kambale, who will be 17 next July, witnessed the assassination of his father, his older brother was killed in obscure circumstances and his mother kidnapped by armed men. She hasn’t come back yet.

“We don’t know what they did with her”, he worries.

For the young man who can’t sleep at night, it’s hard to understand “such wickedness – this almost animal brutality”.

Second in his family, this sixth-grade schoolboy from the territory of Beni lived through horrible moments on the day of his father’s murder.

“My father was killed in my presence. I watched how they cut him into pieces, then his cut head was placed in a pot”, he said, recalling that he now lives with her two sisters.

The orphan also chose to forgive.

“I and the other children who are here have forgiven our executioners. This is why I lay before the Cross of Christ the Victor, the machete identical to the one that killed my father”.

Men of God have not been either spared by the unprecedented violence which is ravaging the east of the richest country in minerals.

“I saw the savagery : people cut up as meat is cut at the butcher’s shop, disembowelled women, decapitated men”, enumerates Father Guy-Robert Mandro Deholo, mutilated with fingers of his hand. He presented the testimony of a certain Désiré Dhetsina, who disappeared a few months ago, leaving no news.

In the testimony he had prepared before his disappearance, this survivor of the Bule displaced persons camp, in the Bahema Badjere chiefdom in the territory of Djugu, speaks of a plan of extermination, of physical, moral and spiritual annihilation that continues every day.

The victims thanked the Holy Father who came “to console us”.


He who considers himself a “pilgrim of peace” also met at the Nuncio’s office in Kinshasa with representatives of refugees of several nationalities, including a Burundian. Angélique Malipo is based in the Mulongwe refugee camp in South Kivu.

She represented the occupants of Mulongwe and Lusenda, another Burundian refugee camp in South Kivu, estimated at 41,836.

“We gave him a letter denouncing the violence of which we are victims, we informed him of the assassinations, harassment, sexual rape to which we are subjected every day”, she revealed to SOS Médias Burundi.

Angelique Malipo feels relieved.

“I am very happy that the Pope has received the letter written to him by Burundian refugees of Mulongwe and Lusenda. He will be aware of our situation when he reads this letter”.

Pope Francis denounced external and internal forces that “loot this part of the Congo”, occupy the villages and indulge in attempts to “partition this space”.

To the victims, the sovereign pontiff said, “Your suffering is my suffering”, calling for an end to the looting of DRC’s mineral resources which, according to him, are causing innocent victims.

Goma without blessing

Initially, Pope Francis was expected to travel to Goma, capital of North Kivu in the east, according to a schedule that was published last July before his trip was postponed due to persistent knee problems. It was not the case.

“I would also like to go to Goma but with the war we can’t go there”, confided the very first Pope of South American origin in history on the plane on Tuesday. The region is plagued by fighting between the M23 armed group and FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo).

“The world has forgotten us”, lamented the Bishop of Goma, Mgr. Willy Ngumbi Ngengele, a few days ago.

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