Congo: Many wars converge at farthest navigable point upstream, capital city Kisangani

Kisangani, formerly Stanleyville or Stanleystad, (population 500,000) is a city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa and the provincial capital of  Tshopo Province. Here, it appears as a tan area on the banks of the river. Kisangani is located where the Lualaba River becomes the Congo River north of the Boyoma Falls. It is the farthest navigable point upstream from the capital city Kinshasa.
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Here, the sediment-loaded river appears brown. The dark green of the forest on both sides of the river is interrupted by lighter green patches where deforestation is taking place. This is particularly notable north of the city. The Congo Rainforest is one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Commercial logging, clearing for subsistence agriculture, and widespread civil strife has devastated forests, displaced forest dwellers, and resulted in the expansion of the “bushmeat” trade.

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The bishops from Kisangani, capital of Tshopo province in the North,
called on the faithful to make Lent a time for the conversion of
hearts. At a time when many armed groups are terrorizing civilians in
the province, the bishops called on the people to “remain vigilant so
that the atrocities that we deplore today will never be repeated
again.” The rebel Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony,
is one of the main players of the conflict in northeastern Congo.

The bishops said the rebel group has settled in Haut Uele province, near
Dungu, and the Garamba National Park, “with the complicity of the
Congolese state authority.” The LRA was responsible for the massacre
of hundreds of civilians in December, when a badly planned military
attack on them by Ugandan, Sudanese and Congolese forces misfired,
dispersing the rebels further into the bush and allowing Kony to
escape. The bishops said that three-quarters of the Diocese of Doruma,
based in Dungu, is affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army actions, and
many Congolese have fled into Sudan.

“The killings, accompanied by destruction of the environment and kidnappings of children, raise questions to which human intelligence cannot find an adequate answer,” the bishops said. “Fear, trauma, anxiety and psychosis have taken hold in the hearts of the poor citizens who have witnessed these large-scale atrocities.

The social environment itself has been greatly marked by this climate of apocalypse.” The local population of Congo’s northern Bas Uele province also is subjected to the abuses of Mbororo tribesmen — nomads from Chad,  Central African Republic, Niger,  Sudan and Cameroon — who started settling in this area in the 1980s.

“Armed with arrows and knives and a few assault rifles, the Mbororo  change strategy, arriving as tradesmen, poachers or cattle  breeders, settling in different areas of the territories of Ango,  Bondo and Dungu, and destabilizing the socio-economic order in their wake,” the bishops said.

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