By editor - 18 April, 2016
Courtesy: Independent Catholic News http://www.indcatholicnews.com
Don Benoît Kinalegu, the Catholic priest who alerted the world to the terrible abuses of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Congo, has passed away at only 53 years of age.
He died of kidney and respiratory problems.
The director of the Justice and Peace Commission of the diocese of Dungu-Doruma was awarded, in 2012, the Alison Des Forges Award by HRW for his humanitarian efforts.
It was Don Kinalegu who first reported the massacre committed by the Ugandan origin group during Christmas 2008, with the killing of more than 800 people in the region of Haut-Uélé.
“When a colleague and I arrived in Dungu to see if the reports were true, we were told that there was one person we needed to meet: Abbé Benoît,” Ida Sawyer of Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
“From the moment we met him, we were struck by his courage.”
“He agreed to help us uncover what had happened and accompanied us by motorcycle to the remote massacre sites. His rapport with the traumatised victims and witnesses, many of whom had seen loved ones hacked to death, was instant.”
“He was gentle, comforting and supportive. They looked up to him and he gave encouragement, assuring them they would not be forgotten.”
Thanks to Don Benoît’s reports, the US government sent a special task force to the DRC, South Sudan and the Central African Republic (the three countries most affected by the LRA incursion), to hunt down guerrillas led by Joseph Kony.
Don Benoît then started a centre in Dungu for children who had been abducted by the LRA and forced to serve as sex slaves and child soldiers.
“He helped them to recover, rebuild their lives, and reintegrate back into their communities. His warm smile and optimistic nature helped them on their long journey to recovery. For the LRA’s many victims and their families, he was a pillar of strength in their darkest hours”, said Ida Sawyer.