Dialogue and prayer meetings for peace in the Spirit of Assisi took place in the Congolese provinces of South and North Kivu from 29 October to 5 November. In the wake of the meeting in Rome with Pope Francis, the 'Cry for Peace' was also raised in Uvira, Goma and Bukavu, in an area of the world where people have been living in a climate of conflict for decades. In the last few weeks one of the many armed groups operating in the region of North Kivu has taken up arms again, launching an attack just a few kilometres from the city of Goma. This caused tension between the neighbouring countries, in particular Rwanda and Uganda, to rise considerably, and there were many violent demonstrations calling for the use of weapons to settle the conflict.
Thus, as jihadist guerrilla warfare has regained strength in the north and tribal and ethnic groups have begun clashing again in the south, an appeal for peace has been raised by the local Communities of Sant'Egidio, together with the various regional religious leaders and state authorities. Many have joined this occasion for dialogue, taking up the deep desire for peace that comes from a large part of Congolese society. In particular, the Bishop of Goma Willy Ngumbi took the floor, pointing out that precisely in these difficult times, religions have a duty to lead society back to the reasons for peace. The deputy military governor himself expressed his thanks for this initiative, which helps to pacify souls and protect people's lives.
The Community in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu, also brought together the city's religious leaders, and in particular the imam of the Grand Mosque expressed not only gratitude for the invitation, but the need to show how fundamentalism even in Congo is manipulating religion and the name of God, to carry out violence.
Besides the religious representatives, tribal leaders and representatives of the different ethnic groups also spoke in Uvira. It was an important moment of unity at a time when ancient rivalries are re-emerging. Children from the School of Peace and Youth for Peace took the floor in the meetings, and on behalf of Sant'Egidio they expressed their commitment to building a future of peace where a better world for all is possible.