Weekly killings, rapes and lootings have become a part of life for Christians in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last Friday night, a Catholic priest was shot dead in the DRC.
Father Joseph Mulimbi Nguli, 52, was killed by unknown attackers as he returned to his family home in Katuba, a district of Lubumbashi city, on the southern tip of the DRC. The Congolese bishops denounced the shooting and wider “attacks in parishes and religious communities, in particular in Kinshasa, Kananga and Bukavu”.
The vicar general of the Archbiocese of Lubumbashi, Monsignor Denis Moto, said he was confident that local security officials would find the attackers and bring them to justice.
The murder is emblematic of wider security issues in the African country. In August, 36 people were tied up and hacked to death in the North Kivu region by a Ugandan jihadist group. The Islamist Allied Democratic Forces-National Association for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) has targeted Christians in the north-east of the country.
A witness from the persecution charity Open Doors International (ODI) said Christians lived in “misery” as a result of the attacks.
“Signs of recent attacks are visible everywhere on buildings dotted along the road. Smaller villages have been obliterated and hardly any civilian life is visible,” said an anonymous representative from ODI.
“Eighty per cent of the households here have farms, but they cannot access them because is it simply too dangerous. This means no food and no revenue. They have become vulnerable to starvation,” one official told the charity.
“We do not understand why this is happening to us,” said one pastor. “The rebels just take people into the bush to kill them or kidnap them. They attack one place for a while and cause people to run away. Then they strike the places people run to.”
In their recent post-conference message the Congolese Catholic bishops added: “We are concerned about the massacres in North-Kivu, in particular in the city and in the Territory of Beni; from the killings in Central Kasai to clashes between security forces and the militia of the traditional leader Kamuina-Nsapu, from inter-community conflicts that are causing many victims in several provinces, especially in Katanga, to the sad events of 19 and 20 September in Kinshasa and the resurgence of banditry”.