Words expressed by Alexis Kabanga, at the memorial servicefor the six ICRC colleagues who lost their lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My presence here is an expression of the sadness felt by all Congolese, and especially by the local staff of the ICRC in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo reeling from the murder of six of their colleagues, who were brutally killed in Ituri while working in the service of humanity.
For my people, the Congolese, this horrific act is humanity at its worst, and we condemn it in the strongest terms. The victims of this crime were engaged in activities on behalf of the Congolese people. They did not deserve such a fate.
The Congolese mourn their dead! The tears shed for our dear departed cannot begin to express our bitterness. Who could but weep last Friday morning when we gathered in the office and the sad news was given to us?
We never felt solidarity so profoundly as in these circumstances. When they brought us the mortal remains of Rita and Julio , we received them in the African tradition, just as we did for Papa Jean , Boboli , Unen and Da Véro . They were all close to us in our hearts. All of you here today, be aware that our country is very troubled. Since 1960, we in the Red Cross h ave helped the victims of the internal struggles, taken the wounded to hospital, and buried the dead — but never did we think that we would be burying our own.
The night spent outside by the entire staff, even those who were on vacation, around the mortal remains of Rita and Julio was a true expression of the pain felt by all. It was proof that beyond professional relationships there exist emotional ties that are difficult to describe. An ecumenical service was celebrated as a sign of communion with our ancestors before our two colleagues were accompanied, as had been the case for the victims who remain in Bunia, to their final resting place.
It is all too painfully true that Rita , Julio , Papa Jean , Boboli , Unen and Da Véro are dead and gone! But for us, they are among us, they are with us! In any case, their deaths can leave no one unmoved.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are moved even more by the wars themselves. The crimes that result from such wars should never go unpunished. The Congolese need to know who is guilty of this dirty deed. We are sure that their identities will be revealed.
May the souls of our noble colleagues rest in peace.
For the Congolese staff of the ICRC in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Medical field officer
Special memorial ceremony,
Geneva - May 2, 2001.
Gillian Biddulph Ackermann
of our colleagues
April 27, 2001
Chronology of activities
The ICRC in Congo (DRC)