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Jesuit Refugee Service team member killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo
November 22, 2013

Jesuit Refugee Service team member killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Bushu will be remembered as a man of compassion, whose advice was deeply respected and sought by many. (Jesuit Refugee Service Great Lakes)
"This tragic news underlines how the mission of JRS is being carried out in an environment of high risk to the lives of all team members and how important it is at the same time to be present to the suffering people," said JRS International Director Fr. Peter Balleis S.J.

(Masisi, DRC) November 22, 2013 — Yohana Bushu, a Jesuit Refugee Service staff member in the Democratic Republic of Congo was shot two weeks ago and died in hospital a few hours later. 

'Papa Bushu,' as he was known, had worked for JRS as a security guard since 2011.

He died on his 40th birthday following an attack by an armed group. He was returning home from a visit to his aunt 12 kilometers from Masisi in the eastern Congolese province of North Kivu. Bushu leaves eight children and a pregnant wife behind.

"His widow, eight months pregnant, is still in hospital. I've been with her to talk and to console her a little. It is important to be with her now," said Regina Missanga OLG, a JRS team member in Masisi.

Less than a year ago, Bushu's sister was killed in the fighting around Masisi. Without a husband, her six-month-old baby was left to Bushu. 

"Today she is a strong baby girl," said Regina. 

The death of a JRS team member is a stark reminder of the dangers of working in a humanitarian context. Despite this month's military defeat of the rebel M23 Movement, violence and impunity continue in eastern DRC. Following the week of its thirty-third anniversary, JRS remembers all those who have given their lives in the service of others.

"This tragic news underlines how the mission of JRS is being carried out in an environment of high risk to the lives of all team members and how important it is at the same time to be present to the suffering people," said JRS International Director Fr. Peter Balleis S.J. in his message of condolence to the teams.

"The exact circumstances of Bushu's death are still unclear, but this situation of insecurity is a daily reality for our teams. We'll continue to accompany the family, and to give hope that all is not lost. God is still present," said Isaac Kiyaka S.J., JRS Great Lakes Africa Director.

"The team is sad. They're still sad. They don't understand, and they fear too," said Regina.

On November 15, JRS teams in Masisi held a memorial ceremony in honor of Bushu. A classroom of the JRS Pedro Arrupe Centre for literacy and livelihoods training has been named in his honor.

"The entire team was there to commemorate and pay homage to Bushu," said Inés Oleaga ACI, Project Director in Masisi.

Bushu was buried in a coffin made with materials from Felipe Berrios S.J., who runs a carpentry workshop for young people in Masisi. Bushu will be remembered as a man of compassion, whose advice was deeply respected and sought by many.

"Three days later, traditional mourning has finished and life continues in Masisi, a place where the dead are always present," said Inés.

"Does that mean we have lost hope? Not at all, but for the moment our hope is not in the authorities' justice; rather in the experience of knowing that we've not been abandoned and peace will reign one day in Masisi." 



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Mr Christian Fuchs
communicationsdirector@jesuit.org
202-629-5946