Archbishop of Boston
Chairman, International Policy Committee
U.S. Catholic Conference
July 10, 2000
The recent confrontation between Rwandan and Ugandan forces in Kisangani is just the latest deadly incident in a bloody war between an intransigent government and brutal rebel forces, which is fueled by intervention by neighboring states. As always, the main victims are the ordinary people of the Congo who have little hope of an end to the violence, malnutrition, disease, and debilitating poverty that this war has brought. They continue to suffer while the parties to this conflict show little will and the international community shows little ability to find a just and lasting peace.
The Catholic bishops of the Congo have issued an urgent appeal to the international community for assistance in bringing an end to the war and to the tragic suffering of the people. They urge an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundian troops, and the sending of a multinational force to provide security for the people of Congo, its neighbors and the international relief agencies working in the region. The bishops insist that a much larger peacekeeping force than that now planned must be sent if the goals of the Lusaka Accord are to be achieved and a genuine process of national dialogue and reconciliation is to begin.
The call of the Congolese bishops for more concerted international action, particularly a more adequate peacekeeping force, deserves support. It is critical that the U.S. government, working with others, continue to seek new, more effective ways to bring about a just political settlement that respects the territorial integrity of the Congo.
We make our own the call of the Congolese bishops that all men and women of good will ... support current efforts for peace and reconciliation in Central Africa through sacrifices, prayers and raising the awareness of the international community of the violations of international laws and human rights that are being committed in Congo.