In a July 16 press briefing in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch stated that 20,000 people have recently been displaced in DRC’s North Kivu province, due to attacks from a Jihadists terrorist group.
The UN Refugee Agency summarized Baloch’s statement in a recent report:
Since 22 June, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) are alleged to have brutally killed at least 14 people and injured many others in and around the city of Beni. Several properties were looted, and others burned to the ground. This was the first attack in two years by the ADF on the city, and the group’s resurgence is terrorizing the lives of inhabitants.
There is a sense of panic and anxiety among the community, as well as a lack of confidence in security forces given the high expectations of improved security conditions following the new measures. These recent attacks have forced thousands of people to flee their homes to seek safety in the eastern part of Beni, and are continuing to weaken and disrupt social, economic and educational activities.
More than 100,000 displaced people were assisted with emergency shelters in 2020 – and almost 14,000 so far in 2021 – but needs remain high as attacks by armed groups continue to displace people in the province, with many forced to flee multiple times. Women and children with particularly acute needs are being assisted with shelter, relief items and cash assistance.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for urgent and enhanced measures to protect civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of State designated ADF as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and categorized them as ISIS-DRC. The group has the primary aim of creating an Islamic Caliphate in Central Africa. While a large majority (85-90%) of DRC’s population is Christian, violence rooted in Islamic extremism continues to worsen, putting the country at number 40 on the 2021 Open Doors World Watch List for Christian persecution. “These predominantly Christian communities are attacked by an Islamic extremist group with a clear Islamic expansionist agenda,” Open Doors spokesperson Illia Djadi stated in reference to the rebel group.
Please continue to pray for the healing of those traumatized by violence in the DRC, and for the Lord to comfort those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. Please also pray for the Lord to strengthen government protection over it’s people and bring peace to the nation, and for the love of Jesus to redeem the souls of those who persecute the church.