Visit to Canada by delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo

Friday, December 05 2008
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Meeting with members of Parliament. From left to right: Bishop Fulgence Muteba, Archbishop Brendan O’Brien, Bishop Fridolin Ambongo and Sr. Marie-Bernard Alima Mbalula.

(Ottawa – CCCB)… Following an invitation by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), in collaboration with the Commission for Social Affairs of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), a delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) met in Ottawa on 2 December with members of the Canadian Parliament. The two Catholic Bishops and a religious Sister drew attention to atrocities occurring in the southeast region of the country, near Goma.

“Our people are suffering and we need your help,” said the head of the delegation, Bishop Fridolin Ambongo, during a luncheon meeting with MPs from three of the federal political parties. Bishop Ambongo is Chairman of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the DRC Bishops' Conference.

The two visiting Bishops asked that Canada participate in peacekeeping. “The troops that currently make up the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in the DRC are ineffective,” explained Sister Marie-Bernard Alima Mbalula, secretary of the country's Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace. “Even worse, a number of UN troops have been involved in serious ethical violations which have shaken the people’s trust.”

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Meeting with representatives of the CCCB and Development and Peace. From left to right: Bishop Luc Cyr, from the diocese of Valleyfield ; Bishop Fridolin Ambongo; Bishop Fulgence Muteba; Sr. Marie- Bernard Alima Mbalula; and Mr. Denis Tougas, from Entraide missionnaire.

The delegation called on Canada to invest in humanitarian relief efforts, as well as help provide controls for the extraction, processing and sale of the country’s natural resources. In addition, they asked for Canadian logistical support, particularly in helping train police. The three representatives of the DRC Conference of Bishops as well want Canadian help to ensure that treaties and accords already signed are respected. “We cannot allow the existing mechanisms for dialogue to be forgotten,” insisted Bishop Fulgence Muteba, Chairman of the country's Episcopal Commission for Social Communications.

In spite of the current political crisis on Parliament Hill, the Congolese delegates, accompanied by Archbishop Brendan O’Brien of Kingston and Chairman of the CCCB Commission for Social Affairs, were able to meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, who was especially interested and concerned about the facts being reported.

Sister Mbalula talked about the atrocities she had witnessed personally. "Rape is being used as a weapon of war. It is a form of genocide, because many of the aggressors are HIV positive," she said. "Since hostilities resumed this fall in the province of North Kivu, more than 1.5 million people have fled from their homes. In Goma, I saw more than 25,000 people crammed into camps, without shelter or food. I have even seen women giving birth in pouring rain.”

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The Congolese delegation shares a meal with representatives of the CCCB and Development and Peace.

In the evening, the delegation visited the CCCB offices, where Bishop Ambongo expressed his gratitude to the CCCB and CCODP for their welcome, and shared his hope that the Bishops' Conferences of Congo and Canada remain in close contact.

Last Updated on Tuesday, October 20 2009