CRS in Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo is currently in a fragile period of peace, after years of instability and political violence that affected the country from 1997-1999. Fighting for oil income and the absence of a structured civil society with true freedom of expression contribute to this precarious position.
The Republic of Congo is one of Africa’s largest petroleum producers. But despite this wealth, approximately 47% of the country's population lives under the poverty threshold and the unemployment rate is more than 50%.
After a long interruption, the local Catholic Conference of Bishops decided to reinforce its national Caritas team, enabling it to coordinate and strengthen diocesan Caritas partners in the Republic of the Congo. An internal assessment revealed that significant capacity building was needed to achieve this end. Catholic Relief Services' work in the country aims to contribute to this goal by reinforcing Caritas Congo's institutional and programming ability.
CRS' History in Republic of the Congo
Catholic Relief Services began its program in the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) in 1997 at the invitation of the country's Catholic Conference of Bishops with a specific aim to provide emergency assistance during the last years of a long civil war.
The consequences of the civil war are still evident. A large part of the country's infrastructure (health, education, etc.) was destroyed and the levels of poverty and emergency needs of the population increased. Poor governance and leadership established after the war worsened the people's vulnerability. Problems include lack of housing, trauma, mourning the loss of family members, as well as basic necessities, and deep divisions in the social fabric of the country.
The local Catholic Church recognized the importance of its role in both the response to the emergency situation created by the war and the reconciliation of a deeply traumatized and divided society. The Church's role is:
To provide assistance in the form of basic necessities to displaced and vulnerable families.
To prevent the resurgence of violence.
To help heal the physical and psychological wounds of the war.
To help fill people's aspirations through the reconciliation process.
To encourage Christians to engage in social justice.
CRS collaborates with Caritas Congo, a network of seven diocesan Caritas partners.