UMCOR Offers Hope in DRC
November 19, 2008—As fighting in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo intensifies, it is estimated that more than 250,000 people have had to flee their homes since August. The numbers swell to more than 1 million (20% of the population) when those who have been uprooted because of earlier episodes of fighting since 2007 are counted. Thousands more have fled to neighboring countries, including Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is responding to a preliminary appeal from Action by Churches Together (ACT) to provide humanitarian assistance. UMCOR is a member organization of ACT, a global alliance of churches and other agencies.
Earlier this month, ACT members distributed a 14 day food ration to 150 households in a camp for internally displaced people. A stock of medicine was delivered to a health center and a therapeutic feeding center continues to assist 90 children. Continued insecurity in the region is making it difficult to consistently reach those most in need and according to ACT, this is "resulting in an appalling humanitarian situation." ACT partners have been able to offer only minimal initial assistance and are diligently working to assess the needs. The most evident needs are for food and water, sanitation, medical care and security. Psychosocial support will be a priority for all who are affected by the violence, but especially women who were subjected to sexual abuse.
In communities and homes where uprooted people have found hosts, resources are becoming scarce. ACT is negotiating with local leaders to secure land for people who are displaced for long periods of time to grow food during their displacement.
Sam Dixon, UMCOR's top executive has been in contact with Bishop David Yemba of the DRC. Dixon says, "UMCOR joins Bishop Yemba in praying for peace and a negotiated settlement to the hostilities."
Empowering the UMC of Goma
The General Board of Global Ministries, of which UMCOR is a part, has approved a grant for emergency relief to the United Methodist Church in Goma, DRC. The funds are made available through the organization's Mission Context and Relationships, Africa Program.
Goma is part of the Kivu Provisional Conference, one of six annual conferences of the Central Congo Episcopal area. The grant will help Goma UMC provide food, transportation and hygiene items to it displaced members. It will also encourage church members to help others in their community who have been driven from their homes.
How You Can Help
Your gifts can help the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo find hope in the midst of uncertainty and help provide for their daily needs. Please give generously to DRC Emergency, UMCOR Advance #198400.