The visit of Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Community of Sant'Egidio, to Goma, capital of the Congolese province of North Kivu, has begun.
It is one of the "crisis areas" of the African continent that has been living in a state of endemic conflict for more than 20 years and that recently, since March of this year, has seen an upsurge that has greatly raised tensions with neighbouring Rwanda. The proliferation of ethnically organised rebel groups and the exponential spread of weapons currently makes a resolution of the crisis difficult.
To date, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) because of the war is estimated at about 2,500,000 persons, many of whom have taken refuge on the outskirts of Goma. The conflict in eastern Congo has a long history, intertwining political issues and major financial interests related to the huge mineral resources in the region.
It is also a story of great suffering affecting a population of young people and children.
In the past year, an estimated 150 schools have been destroyed, and alongside a humanitarian emergency such as refugees, there is a major educational emergency. Because of the recent pandemic, thousands of children have been deprived of schooling, and many of them have been forced either to work in mines or to enlist in armed groups. There is a great demand for peace rising from the poor and which the Community has taken up with its faithful presence in Goma, as well as in Bukavu and Uvira, alongside children, the elderly and street children.
And it is significant that Marco Impagliazzo's visit began precisely by paying homage at the tomb of Floribert Bwana Chui, of the Community of Goma, killed in 2007 for opposing the illicit trade in spoiled rice and refusing corruption. Declared a Servant of God by the Church, his Cause of Beatification is underway, and his figure was also remembered by Pope Francis during his recent visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Floribert represents for young Congolese and others, a model of peaceful resistance to evil.