Tribal conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo have sent hundreds fleeing and left many dead.
The clashes are occurring between the Bashimbi (indigenous tribes also known as pygmies) and the Bantu, said the Rev. Joseph Mulongo Ndala, Mulongo District superintendent for the United Methodist North Katanga Conference.
He has taken 11 members of a displaced family into his home and said church members throughout the region are opening their homes to displaced people.
Mulongo said he has been holding meetings to train people to be peacemakers rather than joining in the fighting.
“It is great joy to see that people have understood the church’s call and are mobilizing to assist with food, etc.,” he said.
“Pygmies are not violent people, they live a nomadic life,” Mulongo explained, but added that the Bantu people, who are the majority, consider Bashimbi to be second-class citizens. According to Congolese history, the Bashimbi were the first occupants of the Congo.
The current conflict, dating from June 2016, began when the Bashimbi revolted against their treatment by the Bantu. “The pygmies are saying the Bantu are taking their land, making farms and imposing taxes. They want to be independent,” Mulongo said.