People displaced by fighting in Goma wait for assistance. Credit: Tarik Tinazay/DKH-ACT

In the Democratic Republic of Congo fighting has intensified, as the major city of Goma (pop. 700,000) was seized by rebel fighters. Caught in the middle are the hundreds of thousands of residents in the city. Lutheran church leaders around the globe are appealing to both sides for safe access for humanitarian aid agencies into the country and city. The situation has led thousands of residents to flee their homes to camps within the country as well as those across the borders in neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.

The ELCA, working through our membership in the Lutheran World Federation is helping to respond by providing water resources in the only settlement where recent Congolese refugees are arriving in Uganda. The Lutheran World Federation/Department of World Services programs in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are preparing to help people who have been displaced in the conflict. Helping supplement this work is staff from the Nairobi-based Regional Emergency Hub, set in place to help respond quickly and efficiently to disaster needs in East Africa. They will be assisting with assessments and support during the scaling-up of humanitarian efforts. The ELCA has been a major contributor to the establishment of these hubs.

In the coming days and weeks, a growing concern is the availability of clean water for affected populations. The worry is the potential for a serious outbreak of disease due to the unsanitary conditions. As things develop the ELCA and Lutheran World Federation will continue to focus on livelihoods, water, sanitation and hygiene related activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the refugee camps in neighboring Uganda.

As we enter into this season of Thanksgiving please raise a prayer for those affected by violence and potentially empty plates and cups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and the many places around the world who do not have peace on this day.

Gifts to ELCA Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.