Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance, said Friday it is sending $4,000 for medicines and medical supplies in Congo, where ethnic clashes have left hundreds dead and wounded.
Three hundred bodies were found in Bunia after two weeks of fighting between factions in the northeastern province of Ituri. More than 80 percent of the town’s estimated 150,000 residents have fled.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Photos showing dismembered bodies and children carrying AK-47 rifles have circulated in international media. The horror of the situation has been amplified not only with reports of the fighting and abuse of civilians, but now with stories of cannibalism.
Dr. Jo Lusi, a Baptist medical doctor, is the director of Doctors on Call for Service, based in Goma, Congo. Lusi and colleagues headed north for Bunia on hearing reports of the fighting and injuries, taking medical supplies originally allocated for Goma. BWAid’s donation will enable the group to replace these supplies.
Lusi described scenes of graphic horror.
“The photographs are sickening,” he said. “I cannot understand how one human being could do this to another? Why hack off the arm of an 80-year-old woman? What threat is she to anyone? Why would a sniper shoot a little girl who went outside the MONUC (United Nations) fence to urinate? She couldn’t wait inside the compound in the queue for the two toilets that serve over 400 people. Such cruelty is mindless and savage.”
Lusi and his team managed to save the leg of a 15-year-old girl, who had been hiding in her house for days after her family was attacked and killed. Machete wounds on her leg and hip were festering by the time she was discovered and taken to a hospital. Other medical people had already proposed amputation.
After treating a 14-year-old girl fighter who shot her own hand while cleaning her weapon, a doctor told her to stay overnight so the dressing could be changed the next morning. “Oh no,” she replied. “I can’t stay here. We have a lot of work to do tonight.”
Lusi described scenes of the DOCS team praying with patients lying side-by-side on thin mattresses on the field hospital floor.
“I wonder how this society will ever be able to get back on the road of normality; how people will be able to recover from these traumas and bring up children who will not be deformed by inherited hatred,” Lusi said. “In the growing darkness of this civil war, the only hope of light is the church. Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world.’ And he told us, ‘You will do greater works than I do.’ It is only as each Christian in Congo shines with his light of love and forgiveness that the darkness can be pushed back.”
Lusi’s wife, Lyn, a former BMS missionary, added her plea: “Please, pray that each Christian in Congo will have the courage to stand out as a small point of light, at whatever the cost to himself, so the darkness be defeated, and the children of Congo can hope for a better future.”
Although the United Nations has now announced a ceasefire, this area of northeast Congo continues to be a fighting ground for different ethnic groups, and also for the armies of neighboring countries. At least five different Baptist communities, most in membership with the Baptist World Alliance, operate in this region.
“Once again we see the needs of the people of this corner of the great African country of Congo,” said Paul Montacute, director of BWAid. “Our Baptist sisters and brothers in the area need our prayers and practical support as they care for so many in need.”
Donations in support of the people of Congo can be designated for “Congo Relief,” and sent to:
Baptist World Aid
Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
Phone: (703) 790-8980
Contacts: Paul Montacute or Lee Hickman