Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Sunday 14 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Kateri Tekakwitha
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Pope denounces attack on Congolese refugee camps

Congo Democratic Republic war Africa


A man kneels in front of a Democratic Republic of Congo flag during a collective mourning that was organized by the citizen movements in memory of victims of the bombing at the Bulengo displaced persons camp (IDP), at the ISC stadium (higher institute of commerce) in Goma on May 6, 2024.

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 05/09/24

International attention needs to return to Congo so as to avert another descent into war. Countries need to stop getting rich from the conflict.

Pope Francis denounced the “cowardly attack” on refugee camps in Democratic Republic of the Congo, where bombs detonated on May 3 killed at least 18 people and injured dozens more in the Mugunga and Lac Vert displacement camps in the east of the country.

In a telegram sent on his behalf by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to the Bishop of Goma, Willy Ngumbi Ngengele, the Holy Father expressed his sorrow:

“Learning with sorrow of the cowardly attack perpetrated in the Mugunga refugee camp, His Holiness Pope Francis wants to be close to all those affected by this act of blind hatred, in which many children were not spared.”

The Pope assured his prayers for the mourning and the wounded, and for the repose of the souls of the dead.

“Condemning once again any act of violence to resolve conflicts – violence of which the poorest and most deprived are always the first victims – the Holy Father invites the Congolese people to keep hope alive, and he exhorts all political actors to work resolutely in the service of peace and fraternity.”

Finally, the Pope implores “God’s consolation and blessings” on everyone.

A region martyred by violence

As to who is behind the attack, there are conflicting blame games.

The Congolese government is saying it is the Rwanda-backed M-23 rebels. The rebels, though, say it was the Congolese army.

The coexistence of a hundred or so armed groups and militias in the east of the DRC is fuelling great confusion in this conflict, which has caused the exodus of over seven million people, to the relative indifference of the international media. At stake in this war is control of the region’s rich mineral resources, notably cobalt, a material used in the manufacture of smartphones.

Pope’s trip

During his trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo at the beginning of 2023, Pope Francis had to cancel the planned stopover in Goma because of the impossibility of guaranteeing security in the region. However, he did meet with victims of the war at an incredibly emotional event held on February 1, 2023, at the Apostolic Nunciature in Kinshasa.

He decried the exploitation of this country’s goods and those enriching themselves with the cruel sacrifice of innocent victims.

I make a heartfelt appeal to all the people, to all the internal and external organizations that orchestrate war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in order to plunder, scourge and destabilize the country. You are enriching yourselves through the illegal exploitation of this country’s goods and through the brutal sacrifice of innocent victims. Listen to the cry of their blood (cf. Gen 4:10), open your ears to the voice of God, who calls you to conversion, and to the voice of your conscience: put away your weapons, put an end to war. Enough! Stop getting rich at the cost of the poor, stop getting rich from resources and money stained with blood!

Pope Francis blessing an attendee during a meeting with victims of the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
The Pope blesses an attendee during a meeting with victims of the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

The Pope’s response to the refugee camp attacks also comes against a backdrop of high tension between the government of President Félix Tshisekedi and Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, Archbishop of Kinshasa, who has repeatedly denounced the corruption of his country’s political class.

Democratic Republic of CongoNatural or Human DisastersPope Francis
Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.