We have just received an update from Henri regarding the situation in Beni. There has been fierce fighting between the Ugandan rebel group ADF-Nalu and the Congolese army since 30 June. The government army aimed to root out all ‘negative elements’ in the east of the country, but reports indicate members of ADF-Nalu had been living peacefully amongst villagers since 2004. The UN estimates that 90,000 villagers have been forced to flee their homes. Oxfam say that the Congolese army is so poorly disciplined that is is likely that rape and other attrocities are being used as weapons of war.
Henri reports that the ADF Nalu attacked the government army last week in Eringeti – around 55 miles from Beni town. Villagers were again forced to flee, and have now congregated in Oicha town, 30 miles from Beni. The numbers of people coming into Oicha are growing daily, and figures are estimated as high as 14,300 families.
Henri’s organisation CRC has been working with the displaced families in Oicha. It is vital at this point that those who have been forced to flee their homes do not join an opposing rebel group, and that violent retribution is avoided at all costs. CRC, is working with both the host community and those seeking shelter to try and restore hope and encourage cohesion between the groups. Following negotiations with CRC the Food Agriculture Organisation has committed its support to assist the displaced families.
It is now that the work Henri has been doing over the past ten years, to encourage neighbouring communities to leave peacefully together and to provide shelter to those who need it, will be most crucial. The situation is extremly volatile, yet Henri and the Task Forces of former militia members and local leaders that he has set up across eastern Congo, will help to negotiate safe passage for those who need it, and to encourage calm within Oicha.
Please support Henri today, and help to restore hope in this volatile region.