“The situation is very serious,” says Francisca Ibanda, Mennonite World Conference regional representative for Central/West Africa.
The UN expects more than 50,000 people from DR Congo to become refugees in Angola in 2017, fleeing violent attacks in the central region. From 1,000 people in March to 20,000 in May, the number continues to grow, influenced also by the overall economic, social and political insecurity prevailing in the Central African region, Ibanda says.
Many Mennonite church members of Communauté Mennonite au Congo from the Kasaï provinces have fled to neighbouring Bandundu province or crossed the border to Lunda Norte province in Angola.
A number of Mennonites taking refuge in Angola prefer to join a local Mennonite church rather than living in a refugee camp, reports Ibanda. She gives the example of Mennonite pastors Moise Kalondji and Malu Bakatuambisha from Tshikapa, DRC, who are sheltering with a Mennonite pastor in Angola. Kalondji is with his eight children, but Malu is seeking to be reunited with his four children who became separated from him in Congo.
“Pray for peace,” says Ibanda.
Angola faces its own economic challenges in the face of falling oil prices. The Mennonite churches in Angola, historically formed of refugees themselves, are responding out of their own poverty.
—Mennonite World Conference release