“I’m currently based deep in the jungle, in a place called Aveba. Although it’s only 380km from Beni it took me almost a week to get here, travelling over mountains and through deep water. For eight days I have been negotiating safe passage for a 250-strong gang of armed militia. They wanted to come out of the jungle and rejoin the community but were worried government soldiers would arrest them the moment they laid down their weapons. They had heard of work I’d done recently with a neighbouring village and telephoned me to ask if I would act as a mediator. The negotiations were very difficult; the government was adamant the gang couldn’t be trusted. After many days of talks I managed to get both sides to start trusting and communicating with each other. I arranged for the gang to lay down their weapons in a safe area and today the 250 men came out of the forest and received safe passage as promised. I’m staying here for one more week to help them get used to life in the community and have arranged for blankets and food rations from humanitarian NGOs based in the area.
Henri Bura Ladyi