Lord’s Resistance Army Continues Terrorizing North-western Congo

“The Lord’s Resistance Army continues to terrorize the population. People are afraid.” This was the declaration of a local Catholic leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Rt. Rev. Julien Andavo Mbia, Bishop of Isiro-Niangara, described the dire situation of his countrymen and -women in the north-western region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during a visit of the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

 The Diocese of Isiro-Niangara, which borders on Uganda and southern Sudan, is home to some 1.2 million Catholics, including 89 priests. It comprises an area of over 23,000 square miles and is organized into 23 large parishes.

Rt. Rev. Julien Andavo, Bishop of Isiro-Niangara, Democratic Republic of Congo

According to Bishop Andavo Mbia, the attacks of the self-proclaimed “Lord’s Resistance Army” have declined in intensity somewhat over the past months, but many refugees are still reluctant to return to their villages for fear of renewed attacks.

“They stay in the settlements protected by soldiers, but there they have neither homes nor enough food to eat,” said Bishop Andavo Mbia, 61, who has led the diocese since 2003.

Bishop Andavo Mbia has called on the faithful to show greater solidarity toward one another. The Diocese of Isiro-Niangara is currently holding a synod under the motto, “Receive, live and pass on the word of Christ.”

The Lord’s Resistance Army, formed in Uganda at the end of the 1980s, became infamous for the brutality of its attacks and its religiously influenced ideology. For many years, it fought the government of Ugandan President Museveni, who is still in power today.

Driven out of the country, the group retreated to southern Sudan, where it supported the government in Khartoum in its efforts to suppress the independence movement in the south.

Today, the terrorist organization regularly attacks villages in north-western Congo, the south of the Central African Republic and parts of southern Sudan. 

For years, observers have criticized the lack of resolve on the part of neighbors and other states that pursue economic interests in the region to combat the terror, particularly as the activities of the LRA are well documented (www.lracrisistracker.com).

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org