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JULY 25, 2017

Jehovah’s Witnesses Offer Humanitarian Aid to Victims of Armed Conflicts in Congo

Belinda (surname not disclosed for security reasons) with three of her children in a hospital in Dundo, Angola. Her husband was killed in the Congo, and one child, a girl, is missing. Belinda and her youngest daughter, Ritinha, 2, were injured by shotgun blasts, requiring that the child have her leg amputated. Another of her daughters was wounded in a machete attack.

KINSHASA, Congo—Jehovah’s Witnesses are providing relief supplies and pastoral support for their congregants caught in the fray of violence that has terrorized the Kasai region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The volatile mixture of ethnic conflicts, armed militias, and civil unrest in the Congo has provoked a refugee crisis involving more than 1.3 million people, including over 30,000 who have fled from Kasai to neighboring Angola. Many of the refugees have been brutally attacked and upon arrival to Angola require medical treatment for burns or severe wounds from machetes and bullets. Current reports indicate that over 870 of the refugees in Angola are Jehovah’s Witnesses and their minor children, and at least 10 of them have been injured. Sadly, thus far 22 of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been reported as killed.

A representative from the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Angola visits a group of elders from Angola and the Congo, some of whom are refugees.

“We are saddened that there are so many casualties of the fighting, especially since some are very young children,” states Robert Elongo, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses at their branch office in Kinshasa. “Some have been attacked simply for being near an area in which a violent conflict flared up. We are deeply concerned for the safety of our fellow worshippers and have urged them to use caution. Along with the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Angola, we are doing all we can to provide the needed material, emotional, and especially spiritual help.”

Refugees, who have fled into the bush to escape armed conflicts in the Congo, construct a hut.

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Angola and the Congo have established disaster relief committees to organize the vast and ongoing relief work. Over 31 metric tons (34 tons) of donated materials have been transported to the refugees, including bedding, clothing, food, mosquito nets, and shoes, as well as 525 kilograms (1,157 lbs.) of medical supplies. A doctor who is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses has also visited the refugee camps to care for 135 who require urgent medical care.

Additionally, representatives from the branch office in Angola and Congo have visited the refugees to offer pastoral support, including holding special meetings with Bible discourses tailored to the needs of the displaced. Though the main language of Angola is Portuguese, worship services in Tshiluba, one of the four major languages of the Congo, have been arranged for the benefit of the refugees, as shown in the lead photograph.

The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses facilitates relief efforts from their world headquarters located in Warwick, New York, using funds donated to the Witnesses’ global Bible education work.

Media Contacts:

International: David A. Semonian, Office of Public Information, +1-845-524-3000

Angola: Todd Peckham, +244-923-166-760

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Robert Elongo, +243-81-555-1000