Congo snubs aid conference
Accusing the international community of exaggerating the country’s crisis, the Congolese government last week boycotted a United Nations conference that raised more than $500 million in aid for it. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said more than 2 million children face severe malnutrition and 13 million other people require urgent assistance. The conference raised $528 million in pledges for the war-torn country.
Clashes persist among several armed militia groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, further fueled by President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down from power.
Acting Prime Minister Jose Makila earlier said the aid efforts project “a bad image of the Democratic Republic of Congo throughout the world.” The country said the UN overstated the crisis, saying the conflict displaced about 231,241 people compared to the UN’s estimate of 4.5 million people. Despite the resistance, Lowcock noted the Congolese government pledged to provide $100 million in aid. —O.O.
Historic Nagasaki church opens persecution museum
Oura Church, a large Catholic parish in Nagasaki, Japan, opened a museum this month chronicling the history of Japanese persecution of Christianity.
The new museum educates visitors about the introduction of Catholicism to Japan in 1549, the Edo period when Christianity was banned and persecuted in the 17th to 19th centuries, and the return of Catholic missionaries to the country. New rulers lifted the ban in 1873.
“I thought Christianity had once been completely wiped out in Japan,” 29-year-old Natsumi Sato of Tokyo told Japan Times after visiting the museum. “I was surprised to learn that people in Nagasaki continued to uphold the faith.”
After Oura church was built in 1864, a group of underground Christians came to the priest and told him of their secret worship. The church is one of 12 places linked to persecution of Japanese Christians under consideration for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. —J.A.S.
UNICEF remembers child victims of Boko Haram
Boko Haram militants abducted more than 1,000 children since the group’s insurgency began in 2013, UNICEF said in a statement released on the fourth anniversary of the Chibok kidnapping, when militants took 276 girls from their school in northeast Borno state. The abducted children include more than 100 of the Chibok schoolgirls who remain in captivity. UNICEF said the group’s insurgency has killed at least 2,295 teachers and destroyed more than 1,400 schools. “The four-year anniversary of the Chibok abduction reminds us that children in northeastern Nigeria continue to come under attack at a shocking scale,” said Mohamed Malick Fall, UNICEF representative in Nigeria. “They are consistently targeted and exposed to brutal violence in their homes, schools, and public places.” —O.O.