Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Congo Crisis Update: "Conditions look frighteningly similar to those before the Rwanda genocide in 1994"

Read Mission Song. John Le Carre's extraordinary thriller about the Congo.Click here for the Buzzflash review.

"The leader of Congo's Tutsi rebels staged his first public rally over the weekend in newly conquered territory. Laurent Nkunda told the crowd not to be afraid. But two former high ranking United Nations officials are warning that the conditions look frighteningly similar to those before the Rwanda genocide in 1994. ... Jean-Marie Guehenno, the former chief of UN peacekeeping, believes that the extra UN troops being sent to the Congo need to be elite soldiers from Europe. Mia Farrow, 11-25-08

A rights group has accused the government of the DR Congo of using violence to eliminate political opponents since polls in 2006. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Congolese security forces had deliberately killed more than 500 people in a campaign against opposition groups. BBC, 11-25-08

Congo Crisis Update: "Conditions look frighteningly similar to those before the Rwanda genocide in 1994"

By Richard Power

Yes, there is urgent need for the intervention of a highly trained, well-armed international force in the North, as well as for an independent investigation into the politically motivated violence reported by Human Rights Watch.

But don't hold your breath.

There is also urgent need to address the immediate suffering of women and children.

There are many thousands of children wandering the streets of the Congo's cities and towns, due to the violence, displacement and economic chaos.

Women are at great risk. Rape is is a weapon.

This aspect of the crisis is something you can have an impact on.

I urge you to give through the Irish Red Cross, either on-line (click here) or via telephone (1850 50 70 70).

With salaries sometimes not being paid for up to twenty-four months, more and more parents can no longer afford to take care of their children. As a result, many youngsters end up on the street.
It is unknown how many children live in the streets of the DRC, as no nationwide research has been conducted so far. The only available information has been gathered by private and non-governmental organizations, and focuses on individual cities.
For instance, according to a survey by the Network of Educators for Children and Young People on the Street (REEJER, after its French name), the capital Kinshasa alone hosts approximately 20,000 children.
A similar scenario, although on a smaller scale, is found in other urban hubs in the DRC. Oeuvres Maman Marguerite (OMM), a Belgian Salesian NGO, claims that Lubumbashi boasts about 3,000 street children, of whom 750 live on the streets permanently.
"These youngsters have lost all contact with their parents and families," said Eric Meert, who runs Bakanja Ville -- a refuge shelter for street children.
Inter Press Service, 11-22-08

"Women, children, older people and others who are not involved in the conflict continue to suffer. Reports locally indicate rape, looting and killing in the greater Goma region continues," said Noel Wardick, Head of the International Dept of the Irish Red Cross.
Tens of thousands of civilians have had to flee further north. These people are in a very vulnerable situation, as are the thousands of displaced persons near Goma.
The Irish Red Cross is accepting donations online and on CallSave 1850 50 70 70 to pay for work being done to save lives by the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement which is providing food, counseling in sexual violence, other medical services and water to tens of thousands of people in the region.
The Irish Red Cross is concerned that all parties to the conflict act in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law to preserve the lives and health of civilians, the wounded and persons captured in connection with the conflict, that they do not damage foodstuffs and that they allow in emergency aid to the beleaguered population.
Donations for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo are being accepted online and 1850 50 70 70
Irish Red Cross, 11-25-08

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

For a directory of Words of Power Human Rights Updates, click here.

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