Kinshasa, February 2nd, 2023 (CPA). – In his first address to the Congolese people, upon his arrival in Kinshasa on Wednesday, Pope Francis denounced the « forgotten genocide », which is taking place in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We need to know what is happening here, that the peace processes, which I fully encourage, are backed by actions and that commitments are kept,” he said, lamenting the continual repetition of attacks and violence suffered by DRC and « to which the international community has almost resigned itself ».
The DRC, he added, is a « huge country full of life« , yet continues to be « tormented by war« , suffering from « conflicts and forced migration within its borders » and « terrible forms of exploitation, unworthy of man and creation« .
He warned against those who seek to « keep the country in violence, to exploit it and do shameful business« , which only leads to « death and misery« .
While acknowledging that DRC is fighting to retain its territorial integrity against attempts at its dismemberment, Pope Francis said that DRC has been « amply pillaged » and has not been able to benefit sufficiently from its immense resources.
To this end, he affirmed that it was “tragic” that the African continent still suffers from various forms of exploitation and that economic colonialism has succeeded political colonialism.
“Hands off the Democratic Republic of Congo, Hands off Africa! Stop suffocating Africa: it is not a mine to be exploited or a land to be devalued. Let Africa be the protagonist of its own destiny », he insisted, adding that the DRC and Africa deserve to be « respected and listened to« , to be more valued at the international level and to have “more weight and representation among nations”.
The international community “accomplice”
The international community is « accomplice » of the conflict, because of its « inaction and silence », had previously declared, in his address, President Félix Tshisekedi.
The conflict and insecurity created by “armed groups and foreign powers hungry for the minerals contained in the land of DRC with the direct and cowardly support of our neighbour, Rwanda” is the first and greatest challenge for the government,” he said.
Over the past 30 years, he said, “more than 10 million people have already been horribly killed. Innocent women, even pregnant ones, are raped and disembowelled. Young people and children have had their throats cut; families, the elderly and children have been condemned to defy fatigue and exhaustion to wander outside their homes in search of peace because of the abuses committed by these terrorists in service of foreign interests”.