Another red flag in the Democratic Republic of Congo! Sister Agnieszka is stuck in Goma. Her return to the hospital is being hindered by bloody riots in the streets of the provincial capital of North Kivu. On the other hand, rebel fighting has started again in the vicinity of the hospital. This will not be a peaceful Christmas! Let us show the missionaries and the entire hospital staff that we are with them.
Sister Agnieszka, replacing the driver who had fallen ill, drove our oncologist to Goma. She did not expect him to return to the mission. “In the morning there weren’t any civilians on the streets at all. I just went out to check and when I saw a gang carrying clubs I immediately turned back,” said Sister Agnieszka.
The state of emergency introduced in May in two provinces (North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri) was intended to improve safety, i.e. to fight bandits and break up rebellions that had recently started feeling too much at home here. The army and the police took charge. In the first few months, one could not deny the zeal and vigour of the services in pursuing criminals. In recent weeks, however, crime has flourished once again and with double the force. Not a day passes without someone in the city being killed by a bullet and several people being kidnapped. In Ntamugenga, where we are based, kidnappings are again the order of the day.
Eventually the people of Goma lost patience. When a shop was robbed a few days ago, the robbers, in an attempt to drive people away from the crime scene, started shooting at random. Two students were killed and two others seriously injured. Enough was enough. The people of Goma decided to take matters into their own hands. Bloodshed broke out in the streets.
To make matters worse, 15 km from our hospital in Ntamugenga mortars are again being fired. The sound of exploding bombs and a series of rifle shots paralyses the inhabitants of the villages who have been cut off from the world. They are trying to flee, but they themselves have no idea where to go.
We need you very much! The coming days are a celebration of birth, life and great hope for change. It is very difficult to remember this when bullets are whizzing overhead. Nothing will comfort the wonderful doctors, nurses and missionaries who dedicate themselves to their work more than our commitment, showing them that they are not alone and helping them in a very tangible way during this festive time. Despite the battles taking place nearby, our staff is doing everything possible to ensure that every pregnant mum expecting a baby at this time has as little to worry about as possible. Today, we can give pregnant mothers in Ntamugenga the most important gift of all – a birth in dignity and safety. Such a gift is worth more than just money, it provides the greatest joy, which is so difficult to find in this part of the world.