DRC a new avalanche of refugees

The UN estimates that more than 200.000 people could have abandoned their homes during the past six months, especially the residents of Sake, currently deserted after the fighting between the rebels led by Laurent Nkunda and the Congolese Army. Nkunda sees himself as the spokesman and defender of the minority Tutsi and maintains that the government authorities support the Hutu rebels, many of which are linked to the Rwanda genocide in 1994.

However, beyond the predictable power ambitions, there seem to be other causes for conflict. According to members of the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC), Knunda's main demand to the government is the return of the Tutsi refugees currently in Rwanda. Likewise, the fighting for control of Lake Albert, a lake rich in oil and situated in the border between Congo and Uganda, also stirs conflict even though Congo's President Kabila and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, reached an agreement for the equal distribution of this natural resource.

Insecurity spreads throughout the Great Lakes area provoking at times the fear of a possible second African war. Entreculturas is very active in this region, supporting the Jesuit Refugee Service in various education programmes that in spite of hostilities are fruitful. On one hand, we promote the development of primary rural schools in Kongolo and Kisangani, in the South East DRC. In Uvira, in South Kivu, we work for disarmament and social re insertion of some 210 child soldiers helping with their labour skills at the Jesuit Refugee Service Transit Centre. In the neighbouring Rwanda, we promote a project to support infant, primary and secondary education and also an income generating project for youth and adults at the Kiziba and Gihembe refugee camps.

In Entreculturas we consider education a key tool to promote social change and advance towards reconciliation.