Kidnappers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are demanding US $500,000 for the release of a Catholic priest abducted just after he had celebrated mass on Easter Day.
Father Célestin Ngango, parish priest of Saint Paul of Karambi, in the diocese of Goma, North Kivu, was taken from his vehicle and forced to go with his captors into the bush. They demanded the enormous ransom from his parish, which is one of the most war-torn areas of DRC, near the border with Rwanda and Uganda.
In a statement, the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) said it 'condemns the kidnapping of Father Célestin Ngango and demands his immediate release. It recalls that priests are people consecrated to God to serve others. To prevent them from working is to deprive many of our compatriots of many benefits.'
Three other priests, Assumptionist Fathers Jean-Pierre Ndulani, Edmond Kisughi and Anselme Wasukundi, were abduced on October 19, 2012, and two more, Jean-Pierre Akilimali and Charles Kipasa, on July 17, 2017. None of them has been heard from since.
CENCO said it 'calls on the competent authorities to take responsibility for themselves by ensuring the protection of citizens and their property throughout the country, particularly in North and South Kivu, as well as in Ituri'.
DRC has suffered decades of war and unrest, driven by inter-communal tensions, poor leadership, corruption and the involvement of surrounding nations eager for a share of its natural resources. The UN reported in March 2018 that 2 million children are at risk of starvation.