Catholic World News News Feature

"Street children" hunted, killed in Congo October 06, 2004

"Street children" are being hunted and killed in southeastern Congo, Salesian missionary priests have told the Fides news service.

The Salesians' report estimated that 20- 30 children have been killed by diamond miners in the Kasai region. The missionaries cited a pattern of "cold-blooded violence" against the children, including one chilling episode in which the vigilantes burst into a home that lodges street children, dragged out two boys, stoned them, and burned their bodies in the street outside the home.

"Unfortunately street children are deeply disliked by everyone," the Salesians told Fides. The children are suspected of involvement in theft and other petty crimes; some are also charged with witchcraft.

"These children suffer twice: abandoned by their families and forced to leave their villages because of war, they are rejected as evil-doers," the Salesian reported. "No one wants them. No one helps them."