Stephen Kaziimba

The Primate of the Church of Uganda has convened a meeting of senior faith leaders from the Great Lakes region of East Africa to resolve the civil wars in the Congo’s eastern Kivu province.

Meeting on 21 June 2022 at the Church of Uganda’s guesthouse in Namirembe, Kampala, the Most Rev. Stephen Kaziimba along with the Anglican Primate of the Congo, the Most Rev. Ande Georges Titre, the Rt. Rev Francis Karemera representing the Anglican Church of Rwanda, the Grand Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje and other faith leaders discussed ways peace could be brought to the war torn eastern Congo. 

The eastern Congo has been the scene of intermittent civil war since 2004 between the army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and various tribal groups, warlords, and Islamist jihadists. Since 2017 approximately 1.7 million refugees have been forced from their homes as a result of fighting between the army and Islamic insurgents. ISIS’s Congolese affiliate, the Islamic State’s Central African Province has targeted Christian villages and government offices for terror attacks. In 2022 the predominantely Tutsi M23 rebel group, also known as the Armée révolutionnaire du Congo, launched a new campaign in Nord Kivu, overrunning a Congolese army base in Rumangabo, and on 13 June 2022 captured the border town of Bunagana.

The Anglican Churches of the Great Lakes Region of East Africa, in cooperation with other faith groups, NGOs and governments have long sought a resolution to Africa’s longest sustained civil war.

A statement from the gathering said:

“In a joint Statement by the Senior Religious Leaders, there is need to respect the fundamental principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and Constitutive Act of the African Union.

“The Statement further reads;

“….Considering that respect for Human Rights represents a fundamental guarantee against threats to peace and internal security of states.

“Determined to build on the principles of peace and dialogue found in the Holy Scriptures.

“Considering that people in all their diversities are created in the image of God and are equal before Him.

“We are deeply troubled by the situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. We are particularly concerned by the loss of life and property that has been brought about by the conflict, including the increase in the refugee crisis, tribal and national sentiments, xenophobic tendencies which could result into a genocide.

“The current situation in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo combined with economic downflow characterized by the increase in the prices of goods and services within the region threatens to undermiundermine the aspirations of the East African Community. 

“As religious leaders, we appreciate the steps being taken to integrate the Democratic Republic of Congo into the East African Community. We urge the political leadership to urgently use this framework to resolve the ongoing crisis. The East African people share the same destiny and everything must be done at our disposal to ensure their survival. 

“We call upon all those that are caught up in the conflict to embrace dialogue as a means for resolving their grievances. 

“We acknowledge the strains and pressures that the refugee host countries and communities may be going through but we encourage them in the spirit of good neighborliness to provide a conducive environment for their brothers and sisters who are running for their lives. 

“We call upon the international community to reach out with humanitarian assistance to those that have been affected by this conflict and the countries where they have settled. 

“In the spirit of Genesis 4:9-10, “The Lord said, “what have you done? Listen Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground”, we feel challenged to intervene on behalf of our suffering brothers and sisters. We intend to convene senior religious leaders from the region under the auspices of the East African Inter-Religious Council in partnership with All Africa Conferences of Churches (AACC), Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), Africa Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL) and Fellowship of Churches and Councils in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA) to discuss a framework for accompanying our political leaders in the region towards sustainable peace. 

“We pray for our brothers and sisters in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that feel aggrieved and frustrated by this conflict to exercise restraint and tolerance to other ethnicities and nationalities as we all work towards lasting peace.”