Secretary of State Blinken Visiting DRC Today
08/09/2022 Democratic Republic of the Congo (International Christian Concern) – United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed today in Kinshasa, the capital and largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His visit there comes as part of a longer tour of Africa including yesterday’s meetings in South Africa.
In a press statement ahead of his visit to DRC, Secretary Blinken’s office said that the meetings during the trip would highlight past, present, and future partnerships between the U.S. and DRC and consider how the two countries can better partner to advance issues like conservation and human rights. Though the press release did not mention religious freedom in particular, it does repeatedly bring up the issue of human rights and, in particular, rights violations in eastern DRC.
Secretary Blinken has previously expressed his support for international religious freedom, saying at an event in June this year that religious freedom is “a vital foreign policy priority.” Quoting former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Blinken also said that “that nations are stronger, and the lives of their people richer, when citizens have the freedom to choose, proclaim, and exercise their religious identity.”
Pope Francis cancelled a trip to DRC earlier this year citing his health, but said that DRC suffers from “exploitation, violence, and insecurity, particularly in the east of the country, where armed clashes continue, causing countless and dramatic sufferings, exacerbated by the indifference and self-interests of so many.”
Christians in eastern DRC suffer at the hands of extremist terror groups including the Allied Democratic forces. Though the Congolese government is pushing back against these terrorist groups, insufficient attention is paid to Christian communities which are targeted for their differing religious beliefs.
The Ugandan government announced in May that it was withdrawing troops operating in eastern DRC. They had been there to fight ADF militants.
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