DR Congo

No peace to people of good will in Zaire for christmas

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The Zairan army posted in the eastern regions of the country is in retreat, pressed by the armies of Uganda and of the Banyamulenge. The disbanded troops are on the rampage and commandeer vehicles, petrol and food upplies to help their flight. So far no human casualties have been reported. But women are in continuous risk of being raped.
Around Christmas the town of ISIRO became the centre of the movements of retreating troops. Christmas day started in the usual festive atmosphere. But at four o'clock in the afternoon the soldiers started the systematic looting of the town. The two Comboni Mission houses were despoiled of everything and the provincial house of the Comboni Sisters was burned down. Twenty seven missionary personnel, including the Comboni Missionaries, Comboni Sisters, Dominican Sisters and some Zairean novices, have escaped and fled to the forest, 4 remained trapped in the provincial house of the Comboni Missionaries and had to witness the coming and going of the looting soldiers. Finally they too managed to escape and took shelter among the manioca plantation that was not too far from the house. They remained there for a night and a day, til the local population found them and led them to join the others in the forest. The local population remained supportive and protective all the time. But now evacuation remains the only option. News has reached Rome that today, December 30, an aircraft is expected at Isiro to move the missionaries to Kinshasa. Now the problem for the evacuees to reach the airport.

At RUNGU the mission has not been touched by the marauding soldiers. The Comboni Missionaries remained at home. The COE (Centro Orientamento Educazione, NGO of Milan) took shelter in the brousse and are still there.

WATSA: on December 30th the town was reached by Banyamulenge rebels.

MUGBERE: The mission house has been looted while the Hospital, thank God, has been left untouched. But there is always the danger from incoming waves of desperate soldiers.

The Mission of NIA-NIA was destroyed. It is now under the control of the Banyamulenge.

The Mission stations of NEISU and VIADANA, manned by the Consolata Missionaries, lay in ruin.

The Comboni Missionaries of Dungu and Duru, already despoiled of everything, are planning to take refuge in Sudan among the Comboni Missionaries at Nzara, the Comboni Missionaries of Ango-Dakwa are moving towards the Central African Republic.

So far the Missionaries are all safe and sound, only leaner, but ready to resume work as soon as the condition allows them to return to their places.