KINSHASA APRIL 15, 2016 (CISA) – Communities in North Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are mourning the death of the Catholic priest who alerted the world to the abuses of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Don Benoit Kinalegu passed away on April 8 due to kidney and respiratory problems in the town of Dungu at the age of 53.
He was the first to report the massacre committed by the LRA in 2008, which culminated with the killing of more than 800 people in the Haut-Uele region.
Ida Sawyer of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Congo recalls, “He agreed to help us uncover what had happened and accompanied us by motorcycle to the remote massacre sites.
His rapport with the traumatized victims and witnesses was instant. He was gentle, comforting and supportive. They looked up to him and he gave encouragement, assuring them they would not be forgotten”.
Don Benoit ran a centre in Dungu for children who had been abducted by the LRA and forced to serve as sex slaves and fighters.
“He helped them to recover, rebuild their lives, and reintegrate back into their communities. His warm smile and optimistic nature helped them on their long journey to recovery.
For the LRA’s many victims and their families, he was a pillar of strength in their darkest hours,” noted Ida Sawyer.
Don Benoit was the director of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission for the Dungu-Doruma Diocese in north eastern Congo.
In 2012, he was the recipient of Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism.