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From the August 2003 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 50, No. 8)

Congo's Nightmare

Children's Message of Peace

Safi Massamba Diakiese, Le Phare (opposition), Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 30, 2003

Schoolchildren from Bukavu, eastern Congo, have sent a message of peace and reconciliation to their “brothers and sisters” in the war-torn northeastern region of Ituri. The children, belonging to the Mayele section of the Okapi mutual aid society, want the people of Ituri to “banish hatred.” They’re asking the main tribal and ethnic groups in and around Dungu, Irumu, Mambasa, Aru, and Mahagi (the principal towns of Ituri), as well as religious and political figures and administrative officials, to “work sincerely for the restoration of peace in our dear Ituri region.”

The schoolchildren want an immediate end to the massacres, to the destruction of what remains of Ituri’s infrastructure, and to the savagery that Iturians have paraded before the world. The young people of the Okapi society invite the youth of Ituri to refrain from any alliance with violent forces—Congolese or foreign—whose only aim is to block the current peace and reconciliation process. For their part, the warring parties are earnestly urged to seize every opportunity for peace and halt the useless clashes that have plunged the region into mourning.

The children ask people and organizations that want peace in Ituri to join with them in disseminating this message to “brothers and sisters” in the eastern province and throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo. People of good will are also invited to appeal to the consciences of the warlords in Ituri, asking them to end the suffering they’re causing among the people there. Together, the children say, “We will make our region truly a land of milk and honey, a land where all Congolese can live in peace and harmony, without regard to tribal affiliation.”

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