A member of parliament in the UK has asked for a debate or an urgent statement in parliament on what is being done about Christians are being tortured, put into forced labour and killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Jim Shannon, the Democratic Unionist Party MP for Strangford in Northern Ireland, raised the matter in parliament on Thursday with the Conservative leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Mr Shannon, who is himself a Christian, said: "According to Open Doors, Christians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, despite making up more than 95 per cent of the population, are facing soaring violence in that country. In fact, the Democratic Republic of the Congo rose 17 places this year on the Open Doors world watch list of countries where Christians are the most persecuted. The DRC Christian population and churches are said to be at huge risk of violence in the east of the country, where Islamic terrorists groups the Allied Democratic Forces and the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda operate.
"One million people are displaced internally, and Christians have been targeted with killings, kidnappings, forced labour and torture, while Christian women are particularly vulnerable to rape and sexual slavery. It is an absolute tragedy happening as we sit in this Chamber. Will the Leader of the House agree to a debate or an urgent statement on this matter?"
Jacob Rees-Mogg replied: "I thank both the hon. Gentleman for bringing this matter to the attention of the House and Open Doors for the incredible work it does as an organisation. They are both important voices for the rights of persecuted Christians. The UK and Her Majesty’s Government are concerned about violence against all communities, whatever their religion or belief, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"The violence is symptomatic of a broader picture of instability in eastern DRC. Her Majesty’s Government continue to urge the DRC Government and the United Nations to work together to protect civilians from continuing violence and to address the root causes of conflict. We are committed to ensuring that the UN peacekeeping mission remains focused on delivering its mandate to protect civilians and that vulnerable communities remain central to the United Nations work in the DRC. The hon. Gentleman is probably more adept at using the House’s procedures than any other Member, so I hardly need remind him that Foreign Office questions are on 20 July, but I will in the meantime pass on his concerns to the Foreign Office."
The DRC has a large traditionally Christian population - around 85.1 million from a population of 89.5 million - but it faces violence from extremist groups who attack villages, causing people to flee and leave everything behind.
According to Open Doors, many do not have enough clothes to wear so the women are ashamed to appear in public and some children have to attend Sunday school without any clothes.