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Building peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

DRCLast month Peacemaker Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda met with rebels fighting in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was part of a mission created at the DRC’s request for the purpose of encouraging the members of the Mai Mai and Kata Katanga militia groups to stop destroying villages and displacing people. The militia groups have been using violence to push for the independence of the Katanga region, which has led to a humanitarian catastrophe in the province (according to the UN mission in DRC).

The DRC asked Bishop Ntambo and 12 others from the Katanga province, including government ministers, political leaders and church representatives, to meet with rebels, open dialogue about their concerns, and find a path towards ending the violence. The group traveled to difficult to reach areas throughout the Katanga province. They met with the Mai Mai and Kata Katanga rebel groups, listening to their concerns and providing counsel.

The militia groups, along with their children and wives, voiced their desire that young people should be able to return to school after leaving the militias. They also asked for jobs in exchange for laying down their weapons. After dialogue and negotiations, the rebels agreed to put down their arms. The government agreed to build roads in the Katanga province, an isolated area with no roads or access to services, and agreed to create jobs to help the people meet their basic necessities.

According to Bishop Ntambo, peace is in process.