United Methodist Women Hosts Public Forum on Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
On August 31, 2012, United Methodist Women co-sponsored a public forum titled “Raging War, Waging Peace—Achieving Justice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo” at the Church Center for the United Nations (CCUN) in New York City aimed at promoting peace and security in Democratic Republic of Congo. Other sponsors included the The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society’s U.N. and International Affairs Office, Global Policy Forum, Mennonite Central Committee–U.N. Office, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, and The Episcopal Church.
Thirty high-ranking religious and civil society leaders from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) joined forces to bring a message of the Congolese people to the United Nations. United Methodist Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda of the North Katanga Area, who is also a member of the DRC Senate, was one of the key presenters. The interfaith delegation came to share the suffering the Congolese people have been going through and to present the petition signed by one million Congolese people to end violence and bring peace to DRC.
The situation in the eastern part of the country, namely North and South Kivu, has been deteriorating following a rebel group M23 mutiny and brutal attacks on civilians by several armed groups, who, as petitions states, are backed by Rwanda. The recent reports by the Human Rights Watch also support this information. Ntambo said that this conflict brought atrocities never seen before by the world: more than 6 million Congolese have been killed and women raped and killed continuously in front of their children and families. The number of orphans grows daily; these kids have no family, no home, no school as the houses, fields and schools were burned down, and they move from place to place, often living in the bushes without any food for days. Besides human atrocities, the conflict destroys the economy of the country. “The suffering of the Congolese is so deep and harsh that time has come for us to share this information with the world as we cannot stay silent any longer,” said Bishop Ntambo.
Harriett Olson, chief executive of United Methodist Women, welcomed the delegation in the CCUN, a building across the street from the United Nations, which is owned by United Methodist Women. Olson told the delegation that CCUN was opened in 1963 exactly for the reason it is being used today—to provide access to civil society and churches to the United Nations. “On behalf of United Methodist Women, I am honored to host this meeting. We take the message from DRC very seriously. Women are not only victims but part of the solution and their work in educating and working for peace is crucial; therefore, United Methodist Women has long been committed to promoting the implementation of the UNSCR 1325. For our part we’ll be sharing things we have learned today, and we’ll continue our relationship with women in DRC.”
See also Wayne Rhodes, “Interfaith Delegation From Congo in U.S.,” Faith in Action, September 4, 2012.