VATICAN CITY, DEC, 5, 2012 (Zenit.org).- On Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI renewed his call for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo
“A large part of the population lacks the primary means of subsistence and thousands of residents have been forced to flee their homes to seek refuge elsewhere,” the Holy Father said.
The provincial capital of Goma was seized by the 23 March (M23) rebel movement from U.N. backed government forces. Goma, which is located in the eastern borderlands of the Congo, has been the site of the nearly 20 year conflict due to political and ethnic hostilities as well as clashes over the region’s gold, tin and tungsten resources.
The region has gained notoriety for mass killings, child soldier recruitment and rape used as a weapon of war.
According to a report by Vatican Radio, the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA says at least 130,000 people have been displaced and are now in sites and camps in and around Goma.
U.N. officials said a camp about 9 miles (15 km) outside Goma had been raided by unidentified gunmen late on Friday. Several women were raped and food and supplies stolen. In addition, there are an estimated 841,000 people who were already displaced before this latest wave of insecurity.
The Holy Father concluded his appeal calling for dialogue to end the conflict. “I therefore renew my call for dialogue and reconciliation and ask the international community to work to provide for the needs of the population,” Pope Benedict said.