Posts filed under ‘Congo- preparations’

What needs to be done???

An excellent resource for reading the latest on what is happening in the DRC as well as learning about all the different socio-political issues that are affecting civilians is: http://www.crisisgroup.org.

The following information is from their website:

The current situation

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) held its first free elections in 40 years on 30 July 2006. Results of the polls, released on 20 August, revealed a regional divide in the country’s electorate: the incumbent, Joseph Kabila, polled strongest in the eastern half of the country, while contenders Jean-Pierre Bemba, Antoine Gizenga and Nzanga Mobutu made relatively strong showings in the west. The polls were deemed free and fair by observers; poll violence and irregularities in counting were sporadic. A run-off between Kabila and Bemba is scheduled for 29 October, to coincide with provincial elections.

Tensions between the supporters of the two front-runner candidates have remained high, and a three-day gun battle broke out between the two camps in Kinshasa just before results were announced, leading to over 30 deaths before a MONUC-brokered truce came into effect. Both candidates have pledged to work together to ensure a safe second round, but the potential for further violence remains high. Supporting efforts to maintain peace in Kinshasa and beyond, particularly by the EU’s EUFOR troop contingent, should remain an immediate priority of the international community, but the continuing transition to a stable government will bring further challenges.

What needs to be done

In a recent op-ed, Crisis Group’s Jason Stearns joins Michela Wrong in addressing some of the challenges facing the DRC beyond July’s elections:

In its four recent reports on the Congo, Crisis Group has made the following recommendations:

One: free and fair elections. The parliament must pass key electoral laws; President Kabila must keep his commitment to appoint new local administrations that fairly reflect the power-sharing agreement signed in Pretoria in 2002; and the international community must set up an effective system for monitoring the elections 2006.

Two: good governance and justice. A joint donors/Congolese mechanism should be implemented to curb state corruption; donor aid should be tied to specific progress on good governance and strengthening Congolese institutions, in particular the judiciary and parliamentary commissions; a specialised human rights chamber should be established within the court system to supplement the work of the International Criminal Court; and the Security Council should enact targeted sanctions against the violators of the arms embargo.

Three: an integrated national army and police force to establish security. Donors should create an International Military Assistance and Training Team (IMATT) to integrate all aid and training for the new security forces; assistance for security sector reform should be increased and a working group established to coordinate support for police development. For more information, see Crisis Group report, Security Sector Reform in the Congo, 13 February 2006.

Four: disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of the FDLR. Peaceful efforts to entice the Rwandan Hutu rebels (FDLR) home must be exhausted, with Rwanda clarifying which officers it intends to prosecute for genocide and offering more generous incentives for others to return; there should be international monitoring of the return process and targeted Security Council sanctions against hard-line leaders, especially those in Europe. In parallel, there should be preparation for, and commencement of, military pressure on the FDLR, with MONUC taking the initial lead.

Five: fulfilment of MONUC’s mandate to protect civilians. The UN Security Council needs to authorise more troops for MONUC; the EU and other donors should give it greater access to intelligence assets; and either MONUC’s mandate should be formally strengthened or its concept of operations should be clarified to ensure that it acts more robustly and proactively against the FDLR and other armed groups.

September 20, 2006 at 5:31 am Leave a comment

If Angelina can do it…

The last few weeks has been a whirlwind of transition and decisions, I thought it would be wise to capture them in writing.

I have decided to use this blog to document my upcoming trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, October 18-November 4. I will be traveling with 10 other women with the non-profit organization, Christian Peacemaker Teams (www.cpt.org)

The raping of Congolese women has been a key weapon in the war among militias who are seeking control of lucrative mineral resources. The purpose of our trip will be to meet with Congolese women and human rights organizations in Bukavu and Goma to witness the effects of the war and to learn about the West’s role in the conflict. Because the militias are partially funded by other countries and Western corporations, international pressure to stop the war is fundamental. My heart not only resonated with the purpose and vision of this trip, but also ached for the Congolese women who deserve to have their stories heard and documented. The thought of having the privilege to meet these women—these survivors—to listen to their stories first-hand and to bear witness to the real effects of violence in their community; I have never felt so compelled to respond in such a powerful way.

Since hearing about the trip on August 2nd, turning in my application to the organization on August 4th and then finding out I was accepted to join the delegation on August 15th, I have been consumed with educating myself about the history and present situation of conflict in Congo. Not to mention scheduling all the necessary immunizations; 3 in each arm and counting.

What is happening in the Congo?To date, The International Rescue Committee (IRC) estimates that 3.9 million people have died from war-related causes since the conflict in Congo began in 1998, making it the world’s most lethal conflict since World War II.

By conventional measures, that conflict is over. Congo is no longer the playground of foreign armies. The country’s first real election in 40 years is scheduled to take place this summer, and international troops have arrived to keep the peace. But the suffering of Congo’s people continues. Fighting persists in the east, where rebel holdouts loot, rape and murder. The Congolese army, which was meant to be both symbol and protector in the reunited country, has cut its own murderous swath, carrying out executions and razing villages. Even deadlier are the side effects of war, the scars left by years of brutality that disfigure Congo’s society and infrastructure. The country is plagued by bad sanitation, disease, malnutrition and dislocation. Routine and treatable illnesses have become weapons of mass destruction. According to the IRC, which has conducted a series of detailed mortality surveys over the past six years, 1,250 Congolese still die every day because of war-related causes–the vast majority succumbing to diseases and malnutrition that wouldn’t exist in peaceful times. In many respects, the country remains as broken, volatile and dangerous as ever, which is to say, among the very worst places on earth.(Time Magazine, June 06).

To read this article in full, go to: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1198921,00.html

I also found this video diary of Angelina Jolie’s to be fairly informative:

http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/congojournal/

September 7, 2006 at 5:25 am


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