As many as 3 million people are in urgent need of help in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, including many Christians whose family members have been murdered, Catholic relief groups have said.
"This is a truly disastrous humanitarian emergency," said Jean-Pierre Pokavu of Caritas Congo. "The needs are enormous."
Caritas, a confederation of numerous Catholic relief organizations, said in a report this week that over 3 million people are starving because of the growing humanitarian crisis, including 400,000 children who are suffering severe acute malnutrition.
Christians and regular civilians have been caught up in a complex web of ethnic and political violence that has gripped the country for years, with the war between the government of President Joseph Kabila and opposition forces leaving entire villages burned down, and multiple planting seasons missed.
Denise Ndekenya is one widow who shared her horrific loss with Caritas, explaining that she had five children with her husband.
"Now I only have two children left," the woman said, explaining that most of her family was murdered, and her husband was beheaded, after militia attacked her village in April 2017.
Ndekenya was transported to a hospital with her two children following the attack, but she knew that staying in the region was too dangerous, and so she set off on a long journey through the country, finally arriving at St. Augustine's parish near Tshikapa.
"What am I going to do now?" the woman asks. "I feel such sorrow."
The violence, including the deaths of 3,000 victims, has led to nearly one-and-a-half million people fleeing Kasai in 2017.
The war has been particularly hard on children, who are widely recruited to fight for militias.
"They have lost absolutely everything," Juliette Maquart of Caritas Belgium said about the refugees attempting to return to Karitas.
"Their homes don't exist anymore, they have been looted and burned, along with clinics and schools."
Frontpage magazine has also reported on the "horrific plight" of Congolese Christians, many who have been targeted with violence for calling for free and fair elections in the country.
"At least seven civilians, including children, were fatally shot during peaceful demonstrations, called for by the Catholic Church, on New Year's Eve. The government prepared for the protests by blocking the internet and setting up roadblocks and checkpoints throughout the capital, Kinshasa. Citizens wearing visible religious symbols like crosses were barred at the checkpoints and ordered to return home," the article said.
"As thousands of the faithful heeded the church's call to march after mass on Dec. 31, 2017, Bibles and rosaries in hand, Congolese security forces moved in, opening fire on kneeling protesters while they sang hymns and deploying tear gas in churches," it added.
"In one Kinshasa parish, the police used more than six rounds of tear gas to target children and elderly worshipers taking shelter in the sanctuary. They ransacked the church searching for valuables to steal, and even attempted to set fire to a statue of the Virgin Mary."
Earlier this month, Pope Francis announced that there will soon be a special day of prayer and fasting for peace, focusing on the violence in DR Congo and South Sudan.
"Our Heavenly Father always listens to His children who cry out to Him in pain and anguish," Francis said, according to Catholic News Agency.
The pontiff issued a "heartfelt appeal" for people to "hear this cry and, each one according to their own conscience, before God, ask ourselves: 'What can I do to make peace?'"