DR Congo

Update on the situation of missionaries in the war torn regions of eastern Zaire

News and Press Release
Originally published
The personnel of the Catholic Institutes working in the region of ISIRO is well and ready to be evacuated. In Kinshasa the embassies of Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany and Canada are working for their rescue. The main stumbling-block is the presence at Isiro's airport of a large number of disbanded Zairese soldiers who are awaiting for their chance to abandon the town. Any aircraft landing at Isire would certainly be commandeered by them. The unsafe roads and the slow means of communications add further complications. But time is running short, since the rebels ar moving towards Isiro, as it has been reported. The option of using the airstrip of Niangara, some hundred kilometers north of Isiro, has been considered and discarded since it requires the use of helicopters to collect and move the evacuees to such a distant landing place. Only France has some helicopters n the region, but France is not part of the project. Additional groups of Zairese commandos arrived at Isiro on Tuesday 31 December to stop the advance of the rebels.
Meanwhile the systematic looting of the mission premises goes on unabated. The buildings are stripped of everything, of doors and windows, and even of zinc sheets from the roof.

Religious personnel, the Bishop included, remain in hiding. They have suffered no physical injuries and do not feel threatened; they are just leaner and freer of earthly possessions. Wednesday, January 1st, World Day of Peace, the Bishop asked the priests in hiding to reach the different churches in the area and celebrate the Eucharist "offering forgiveness to receive peace" as indicated by Pope John Paul II in his message for the World Day of Peace.

The missionaries working at DURU and DUNGU crossed the border with Sudan and took shelter at Nzara, where they are awaiting a plane to move to Nairobi.

The missionaries working at ANGO and DAKWA, crossed the borders with Central Africa Republic, on their way to Nairobi.

The premises of the Church at RUNGU have been looted. The personnel of the mission is still in the forest. They are reported to be well.

At KISANGANI the situation is worsening. Preparations are on the way to evacuate church personnel from the town.

Typed and distributed by AFJN.
For further explanations contact J.B. Antonini, Via Luigi Lilio
80, 00142 ROMA, Tel (06) 519 1224, fax (06) 519 1333.