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[Note: this article has been updated and corrected since the original post (6/1/2023]

5/31/2023 Congo (International Christian Concern) — An electrical fire destroyed one building at an orphanage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Wednesday. More than 20 children and adults escaped unharmed, and International Christian Concern (ICC) is committed to helping the owners rebuild.

ICC has supported the overcrowded orphanage with emergency supplies over the past year, including food, medicine, safe water, clothing, mattresses, and a fish farm. The children, from babies to teens, were orphaned by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) terrorist group that killed their parents and ravaged their Christian communities.

The Christian couple that has run the 30-year orphanage on a small plot of land risked their lives to save the children. The orphanage consists of three small buildings that house about 100 youngsters.

“We have been up all night as we watched the house go up in flames with everything inside it,” said the wife who runs the orphanage with her husband. “We thank God that all the children were evacuated safely. No one was injured during this fire accident. We accommodated the 20 affected children in the other houses. One bed was taking seven children. Others slept in our bed as we kept watching the fire to make sure it didn’t spread to other buildings. We are now assessing the extent of the fire that burned everything down from the roof. The walls are also cracked.”

The husband and wife have been overwhelmed and stretched beyond their limits recently, as more orphans are brought to them. The ADF storms through communities and kills Christians regularly – babies are found still clinging to their dead mothers and brought to the orphanage weekly.

“This is an incident we were not prepared for,” said the wife. “It is an emergency that has thrown us into a panic, and we are asking that you pray for us as we adjust to the occurrence and start the long journey to recovery. “This vision is only possible through your help since we do not have anything to support all this ministry …”

A bishop in the North Kivu diocese visited the orphanage early Thursday to offer spiritual support to the orphans and gather more details in the aftermath.

“Losing such a property is a big blow to the church and the government of Congo as terrorism and Christian persecution continue in Nord Kivu and Ituri provinces,” said the bishop. “More children are being left without parents and guardians when these militants attack villages and farms. The orphanage needed more housing for such children but now one of the existing three houses has been burned down. It is so depressing to say the least.”

The ADF has been around since 1995 and was formally affiliated with the Islamic State in 2019. The United States government named the Islamist extremists a terrorist group in 2021. ICC also called out the terrorists in its comprehensive 2022 Persecutor of the Year report.

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