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one week and counting

I leave for Congo one week from today.  I had the pleasure of meeting some former World Vision (www.worldvision.org) colleagues of mine for lunch today.  Three amazing women who use their gifts and skills of leadership and administration to further the transformative work of God through World Vision.

Working for World Vision  allowed me to grow in my understanding of poverty, violence and disease in the world, with particular attention to Africa.  It is through World Vision that I first learned of the violence against women in  Congo, through the organization’s projects serving orphans and vulnerable children, many of whom are victims of sexual exploitation or orphaned by violent rape to their mothers and forced escape or abandonment by their fathers.  The invitation extended to CPT by the women and families in Congo reflects hope and trust that change can occur.  As many western NGO’s continue to enter developing countries espousing their opinions and dominant culture values of how to fix problems or hand out bandages to solve systemic issues, it is refreshing and significant that CPT has cultivated it’s response by listening to what the women in Congo have voiced as their need.

October 10, 2006 at 10:56 pm Leave a comment

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October 10, 2006 at 10:44 pm Leave a comment

Watch CNN Anderson Cooper 360

Anderson Cooper from CNN is currently in the Eastern DRC, Goma, to be specific, and will be reporting on the situation there every evening at 7 pm PST. This is very encouraging to have a mainstream, cable news network covering the situation in Congo. One point that I hope the show is able to deliver is the fact that we are all tied to Congo. Our daily lives; our technology, the use of our cell phones and laptops are only made possible by the mining of resources in Congo. The small things that keep our daily lives efficient are purchased at a great cost to the women, children and families of Congo.

Thursday’s show

Killing Fields: Africa’s Misery, The World’s Shame
Live from Africa: “360°” looks at how children in the killing fields of the Congo find hope in the face of unspeakable horror. Tune in tonight at 10 ET.
• Watch: Peacekeepers’ lonely task (3:31)
• Watch: Violent history of Congo (3:15)

October 5, 2006 at 10:08 pm 1 comment

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


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