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Human Rights Watch, OXFAM & others call on world to "take immediate action to protect civilians who are at severe risk in eastern Congo"
By Richard Power
The misery deepens -- yet again.
War could engulf Africa's Great Lakes region -- yet again.
Human Rights, OXFAM, Enough, the Norwegian Refugee Council and other organizations are calling on the world to "take immediate action to protect civilians who are at severe risk in eastern Congo."
In this incredible tale of woe, there are profound lessons that few seem willing to even acknowledge, let alone act upon.
So many business and political leaders shake their heads in despair and say there is nothing they can do.
And yet somehow, the weapons continue to flow into the region; and somehow, the natural resources continue to flow out.
Here are excerpts from two important stories, with links to the full text:
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is on the brink of slipping back into the kind of devastating international war that raged from 1998 to 2003, according to one of the architects of the Great Lakes peace accords.
Jan van Eck, a former member of parliament in South Africa's African National Congress government, and a negotiator for 12 years in the troubled central African region, told IRIN: "The only solution people are trying is the use of military force. There is no military solution to this [the eastern DRC] whatsoever."
A year ago, he predicted another major conflict in eastern Congo, despite the comprehensive peace accords signed in 2003, arising from Rwanda's failure to grant full political rights to returning Hutus, some of whom had fled in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. IRIN, 11-7-08
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other African and international leaders meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, this weekend should take immediate action to protect civilians who are at severe risk in eastern Congo, 10 human rights and humanitarian agencies, including Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, ENOUGH and the Norwegian Refugee Council, amongst others, said today. The agencies also called on the European Union (EU), whose foreign ministers are to meet in Brussels on November 10, to send immediate reinforcements to the beleaguered UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC, whose forces have been unable to halt abuses against civilians. A quarter of a million people have been forced to flee their homes since late August 2008 as a result of intense fighting between the forces of rebel general Laurent Nkunda and Congolese army soldiers and their allied militia. People have dispersed over a vast, inhospitable area without access to shelter, water, food, and medicines. The fighting has severely hampered the ability of aid agencies to reach those in need. With renewed fighting in the last two days, many more have been forced to run again in search of safety.
"The world cannot look away again as thousands suffer in eastern Congo. The people of Congo deserve more," said Juliette Prodhan, head of Oxfam in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "We have had fine words and important meetings but these must now be put into action by providing additional troops to safeguard the people. We need more urgency, more action and more commitment." Human Rights Watch, 11-7-08
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