Thousands flee Congo as LRA attacks

By October 21, 2008

DR Congo (MNN) — The rebel group LRA has renewed attacks in the North Kivu region in the eastern part of Congo Democratic Republic, forcing thousands of Congolese to flee to neighboring Uganda. The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says about 4,000 Congolese have fled into Uganda and are now being hosted by Ugandan families.

Fran Derocher, Africa Director for Mission Aviation Fellowship, says, "(The LRA) is a very brutal group, and they're causing a lot of trouble up there; many people are fleeing. I know many of our guys are flying in support of a lot of the relief agencies who are trying to get some aid and medicines and food up there."

Derocher says in the past, the LRA has done more than steal food and other essentials. "At the same time, they'd be abducting young boys and girls to put into the service of their army and whatever else they want to do with them. And, with the change in Sudan and Uganda working togethe, they've fled into northeast Congo."

While MAF specializes in working in remote areas, this relief effort isn't easy, says Derocher. "Because of the remote location and the difficulty getting supplies in, it's very expensive to operate in the northeast part of the country. And with the increase in fuel costs, this is really added to the expense that we're facing."

MAF used to have a base in Nyankunde but was forced out of the area six years ago. Derocher says renewed violence in the region is disappointing. "We haven't yet returned people there, but the hospital had restarted and was going very well. They were rebuilding. Things were looking really great. But unfortunately, the militia went through again and basically emptied out the whole Nyankunde village," he says.

While they're not able to fly out of Nyankunde, the work continues. "We're based out of Bunia. Bunia is fairly stable. There's a huge UN contingent in Bunia. Our families are okay, and we're thankful for that."

Derocher is asking people to pray for wisdom. "You're put into a situation where you're getting dozens, if not hundreds of rumors and issues that are happening not far from where your families are living. It's difficult to know what kind of decisions to make — should the families evacuate? Should they not? Is it safe enough to stay? Should we just push through and continue on working? It just really needs a lot of prayer."

Pray that as MAF flies in aid and personnel, their workers will be able to share the Gospel. Also, consider giving a gift to MAF. With the increasing cost of fuel, funding is needed not only to help with this emergency need, but also the on-going needs for the entire MAF ministry worldwide. Click here to give safely on-line.

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