“Atrocities” in the DRC: Christian footballer Chancel Mbemba prays for a return to peace

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Congolese football player Chancel Mbemba posted a publication on his Facebook account on Monday, February 5, in support of the “victims of the atrocities in Goma” for whom he prays. The United Nations estimates that nearly seven million people in eastern DRC have been forced to leave following fighting between the army and the M23 rebel group and according to the International Rescue Committee, nearly 6 million have been killed. 

The east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and particularly the province of North Kivu, is prey to a conflict pitting the country's armed forces and the M23 rebel group for almost thirty years. According to Human Rights Watch, the M23, supported by Rwanda, carries out “summary executions” and “forced recruitment of civilians” in the east of the country.

According to United Nations estimates, a “record number” of 6.9 million displaced people was reached on October 30, 2023 and nearly 6 million deaths are deplored since 1998.

A clash linked in particular to the presence of nearly 60% of global coltan reserves, essential for the manufacture of mobile phones, in the Kivu province. 

Monday February 5, Christian and Congolese player Chancel Mbemba posted a publication on Facebook showing a photo of a child accompanied by a message of support. The player said he prayed with all his heart for his “country to regain its peace”. 

The African Cup of Nations, a tool to highlight the violence committed in the DRC

La CAN (Africa Cup of Nations), is a football competition which takes place from January 13 to February 11 in Ivory Coast. During the semi-final held last Wednesday, the DR Congo team denounced the violence currently taking place in the country. 

Equipped with a black armband, like "mark of mourning", they all observed a common sign to denounce the silence of the international community and the deaths of numerous civilians. 

For his part, striker Cédric Bakambu calls not to be silent, but to “highlight what is happening” in his country.

An observation already shared by the Congolese priest Pierre Cibambo in 2010, who declared to Caritas that the number of deaths in this conflict "should alarm the international community [...] unfortunately it has lost interest in it" he lamented. 

In the stands, supporters also recalled the humanitarian situation in the country with posters reading “Genocide in the east of the DRC”. 

Melanie Boukorras

Image credit: Shutterstock / Maciej Rogowski Photo

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