Congo on the UN agenda

Bishop Djomo

Bishop Djomo

By Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Head of Caritas Internationalis Delegation to the UN in New York

Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Episcopal Conference, arrived last Friday for a quick trip to the United Nations.

The timing could not have been better as Congo was firmly on the UN Security Council agenda. On Thursday, most members of the UN’s Security Council left New York on a mission to Africa, Including a brief stop in Congo.

The Security Council consists of five permanent members and ten elected rotating members. When faced with an issue that impacts on international peace and security, they make great efforts to find a consensus, hopefully in order to act wisely, effectively and with urgent humanitarian concern.

Council members will arrive in war-ravaged eastern Congo and then on to the capital Kinshasa on early this week. The range of pressing issues could keep them there a month never mind a day and a half!

Back in New York, Bishop Djomo came to further quite specific advocacy initiatives launched by a Congolese Bishop’s delegation in December 2008.

Working with our Caritas delegation at the UN, the Bishop updated diplomats on protection issues in the Congo, the sustained vulnerability of child soldiers, the sexual based violence against women and girls.

He came to underscore the Congolese Bishops’ call for a regional conference on the peaceful exploitation of natural resources. The future conference would address the long plague of complex and convoluted corruption and allow Congo’s rich natural resources to become a transparent and honest economic engine.

(Caritas England and Wales/CAFOD’s Pascale Palmer is in Congo with the local Caritas to look at the effects of exploitation of the country’s natural resources.)

Bishop Djomo came with humble strengths and dignity “speaking truth to power” to all who would listen. His testimony rooted in deep pastoral engagement moved listeners in unexpected ways.

Several Security Council members’ expert staff welcomed the eye-witness account of the situation on the ground. Some hoped to update their ambassadors literally as they were travelling to Congo.

International colleagues from the European Union, the Council of Europe, UN officials, non-governmental organizations and faith-based NGOs listened carefully, asking many questions about next steps. The Bishop concluded his marathon by meeting with the Holy See Mission to the UN.

Anyone with ears to hear could better understand what Caritas Congo’s recent US$14 million appeal for humanitarian support means to more than 1.5 million internally displaced people with urgent needs.

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Filed under Advocacy, Africa, Conflicts and Disasters, Congo, Democratic Republic of, Emergencies, Emergencies in Congo, Peacebuilding

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