DRC: Catholic Bishops Express Solidary with Victims of Flooding

By Arnold Neliba

KIVU, MAY 12, 2023 (CISA)-Unconfirmed reports indicate that over 400 people have died and an uncertain number of persons still missing following flooding and landslides in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

While expressing fraternal closeness and solidarity to Archbishop François-Xavier Maroy of Bukavu, as well as the people in the affected region, the National Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO) has appealed to the central government, humanitarian organizations and people of goodwill to help the survivors of the disaster.

“It is with great emotion and sadness that we have received the sad news of the disaster due to the torrential rains that have fallen in recent days in the Province of South Kivu, especially in the territory of Kalehe, causing loss of life and significant material damage. This misfortune adds to our sorrow at a time when we are very concerned about the worrying social and security situation in the Provinces of North Kivu and Ituri,” said Most. Rev Marcel Utembi, the archbishop of Kisangani and CENCO president.

The eastern region of DRC has experienced two landslides: in Miringati village in Lubero territory and Songambele locality close to Rubaya city in Masisi territory. Both calamities were triggered by the ongoing heavy rainfall in the region.

According to Ulrich Crepin Namfeibona, the emergency coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in South Kivu Province, the situation risks causing an outbreak of diseases in the aftermath of floods.

“Poor living and sanitation conditions in the aftermath of floods create a high risk of disease—such as skin infections and diarrheal diseases—especially in this area close to Lake Kivu where cholera is endemic. Shelter, food, and other basic [supplies] are urgently needed for these communities who have lost everything. We are also seeing children who have lost their parents and need protection,” he said.

According to a status report by ReliefWeb, very heavy rainfall has been affecting the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, also known as Congo-Kinshasa), in particular the South Kivu Province (bordering Rwanda and Burundi), over the last week, causing rivers to overflow (particularly Cibira/Cabondo and Nyamukubi Rivers) and flash floods that have resulted in casualties and severe damage. The worst affected area is the Kalehe Territory (north-eastern part of South Kivu Province).