Wikimedia Commons

Democratic Republic of the Congo (MNN) — Conflicts in the city of Sake in the DRC’s North Kivu province have displaced 144,000 people since February 7. North Kivu’s capital, Goma, is overflowing with refugees and still under pressure from encroaching M23 group forces that block access to key roads.

It’s a complex situation with a staggering number of players. More than 260 local or foreign-backed armed groups exist within the DRC according to a 2023 survey by the government. (Learn about key groups such as M23 here.) 

MAF, Mission Aviation Fellowship

Photo of sewing class in East DRC courtesy of Mission Aviation Fellowship

Ben Samuelson serves with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Ituri Province, the region directly north of the North Kivu hotbed. In the past two weeks, Ituri itself has had an upsurge of killings, abductions and burning of homes of civilians by non-state armed groups, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

In the midst of the chaos, Samuelson and the MAF team offer stability through a shuttle system between Ituri’s capital city of Bunia and three other major cities in East Congo.

“It doesn’t really matter what direction you take off and start flying (from Bunia). You are effectively always flying over militia activity at some point along that route,” Samuelson says.

MAF serves in three of the internally displaced persons camps in Bunia, offering local-led literacy classes, sewing classes, basic counseling services and more.

Nearly seven million people are displaced within Congo. Samuelson says one tiny hut in these camps might hold a large family.

MAF, Mission Aviation Fellowship, literacy

Photo of Ben and Anna Samuelson with a literacy class graduate in East DRC courtesy of Mission Aviation Fellowship

“These people are scared for their lives, and they’re traumatized. It’s better to run away from everything they know, and come to one of these camps, than to have to live their life in fear every single day of this group that will come to kill them and to make their lives miserable,” he says.

Regarding extremist groups within the DRC, Samuelson calls their actions inhumane. He says it’s hard to talk about and is clearly the destructive work of Satan.

Pray for the MAF team as they serve in dangerous, pressured region. Learn more about MAF’s work in the DRC here.

Samuelson knows his team can’t solve the deep struggles facing the DRC. “But we have the chance to help some people, you know. We have the chance to serve the people that God has placed in front of us,” he says.

Join MAF in lifting up this complex crisis before the Lord, who knows and understands every detail. Pray for wisdom for leaders, long-term peace in the nation and the hope of the gospel to reach millions of suffering people.


Header photo courtesy of MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti via Wikimedia Commons. People from the Kibumba – Rutchuru axe who fled the combats between FARDC and advancing M23 rebels, set camp in Kanyaruchinya 4km north of Goma, the 1st of August 2012.