Last September, warfare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo erupted in a massacre at Nyankunde, a small town 25 miles southwest of Bunia. Witnesses said 7,000 militiamen from the Ngiti tribe attacked the Evangelical Medical Center, killing more than 1,000 people. Christian Congolese and missionary staff led about 900 patients on a one-week, 100-mile trek to safety.
An estimated 3.5 million people have died in the civil war that began five years ago. It is a fight between various ethnic and outside groups for control of the country's rich natural resources. In June the United Nations agreed to send a 1,400-member peacekeeping force to help quell a string of recent massacres near Bunia.
Africa Inland Mission (AIM), an evangelical agency based in Pearl River, New York, has appointed nurse Chris Hamilton to coordinate relief efforts in northeast Congo. Based in Tanzania, Hamilton and her husband, a pilot, travel there twice monthly. Ken Walker interviewed her.
What happened to the hospital and refugees?
Nobody can go back to Nyankunde. There are land mines laid around the mission and hospital perimeter. Looters are going back to take off the roofing materials. We set up a camp for refuges at Oicha mission (about 100 miles away) with the help of Samaritan's Purse. Many are workers from the center at Nyankunde. Some have joined the staff at the Oicha hospital; others are working in a nearby town.
However, in mid-May, the (Ngiti and Hemas) went at it again in Bunia. At least 200,000 people fled and are looking for refuge. As of June 1, we were active with 15 internally-displaced people's camps. We are also supporting the national church's effort to meet needs.
How has this situation affected Christians?
Persecution builds the church ...1