by Theogene RUDASINGWA
Rwanda’s leader uses UN peace missions to maintain the dictatorship in Kigali and to enhance his formidable global financial and criminal network that liquidates his opponents
President Paul Kagame has come to love United Nations peacekeeping operations. This is ironic since he hates the United Nations, and does not actually believe in peacekeeping. It is now an unwritten rule that the West (mostly the US and UK) will ask Rwanda to participate in UN peacekeeping missions, and Kagame will kindly oblige.
Photo: Rwandan peacekeepers serving with UNAMID escort IDPs on their return from an IDP camp to their original village in Sehjanna, near Kutum, North Darfur, July 2011. Source: un.org
What is the deal?
First, the West will not shed the blood of their sons and daughters for Africans. They need their favourites like Kagame to do the job for them. Hence, Rwanda’s troops can now be found in Darfur, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Haiti. Rwanda’s officers, some of them notorious human rights abusers, are the most favoured when it comes to leading United Nations peacekeeping missions. The unspoken thought from Washington and London seems to be ‘Africans are killing Africans, who cares even if African murderous dictators like Kagame pretend to keep an illusive peace?’
Second, Kagame needs these ‘gifts of love’ from the West. He needs something to occupy his increasingly restless Tutsi army. If they are not in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they should be somewhere else.
Third, Kagame has made a fortune out of peacekeeping. His family and clique pockets most of money that should otherwise go to the Rwandan officers and men in these UN missions. Through the Horizon Group ( controlled by Rwanda’s military and intelligence), alongside Crystal Ventures ( Kagame’s financial empire that controls most of Rwanda’s economy), he gets money directly from the UN system, and indirectly from taxpayers in the West. With vast resources, Kagame has built a global financial and criminal network to liquidate any of his opponents, be they Rwandans or heads of states of other countries.
Fourth, by having his troops in these peacekeeping missions, Kagame can always blackmail the West into silence, inaction and protection when it comes to calls for accountability for his horrendous human rights abuses. All that Kagame has to do is to threaten to withdraw Rwandan troops from UN peacekeeping missions. In 2010, when the UN Mapping Report chronicled his war crimes, crimes against humanity and even possible ‘acts of genocide’ in the DRC, Kagame threw a tantrum, and threatened to withdraw his troops from Darfur. The next day, UN Secretary General embarked on a pilgrimage to Kigali to pay homage to Kagame. The report was shelved, joining many others that tell the sad story of unaccounted crimes by Kagame and his clique before and since 1994.
Fifth, Kagame has come to believe that he is indispensable to the West, in war-prone and far-flung hot spots that are still viewed as the dark continent. Through Kagame’s deployments in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region, Western military and intelligence establishments have proxy eyes and ears on the ground. Occasionally, Washington and London will timidly voice their concerns as in the M23 saga in DRC, or the assassination of Patrick Karegeya in South Africa, but the hard-nosed analysts will insist Kagame is still their man.
As in 1994, it will take another civil war, more bloodshed, regional instability and the demise of the Kigali regime for Washington and London to wake up to the new national and geopolitical realities. When that happens, Washington and London, like Paris before them, will hopefully learn that even powerful nations can be wrong, be on the wrong side of history, and knowingly help inflict damage on poor nations.
* Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa is President Paul Kagame’s former envoy to Washington and now an opposition leader in exile in the US.
(Reporter’s name unknown)
Photo: President Kagame (centre in glasses) in a group photo with other Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa yesterday. The New Times/ Village Urugwiro.
President Paul Kagame has called for an immediate end to the continuous impunity of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (F DLR) militia, operating in eastern DR Congo.
The President was speaking at the opening of the 22nd Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa yesterday.
His remarks followed a discussion and presentation of various reports, including the report by the Peace and Security Council.
“Despite the welcome agreement signed between the government of DRC and M23, an armed group behind the 1994 Genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda, the FDLR, remains untackled, even though it is the bedrock of instability in our region. Rwanda requests this gathering to urge and follow up the end of the FDLR threat to Rwanda and the region,” the head of state said.
Kagame underscored the importance of Africa solving its peace and security issues across the continent.
“There is increasing evidence of Africa’s genuine commitment to manage our own security crises. But a lot more could be done, if together, we redoubled our efforts to confront instability; the single biggest obstacle to the prosperity we all aspire to,” he said.
President Kagame also urged all member states to keep in mind the central purpose of peacekeeping missions.
Genocide a reminder of reality
His call comes amid an ongoing conflict in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
“Whatever the stated mandate, the protection of civilians should always be at the heart of our interventions. In Rwanda, we learned the hard way that this seemingly evident principle does not always translate into corresponding behaviour on the ground. The 1994 Genocide that we commemorate this year for the 20th time is one important reminder of this reality,” Kagame said.
Rwanda has contributed peacekeepers to several countries, including Sudan, South Sudan and, more recently, Central African Republic.
Yesterday’s discussion was preceded by a hand over ceremony of the AU chairmanship from Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.
In his handover speech, Prime Minister Hailemariam thanked all African Union members for their support and urged them to work towards a dignified Africa.
“Let us strive to achieve our collective vision of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa.”
President Kagame, who is accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame and Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, later held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
source: The New Times
by Eric Kabeera
Thousands of youth from 15 countries around the world will participate in the forth coming 20th anniversary of the Genocide Walk-to-Remember over a million innocent people who perished.
Marc Gwamaka, the director of Peace and Love Proclaimers (PLP) that is spearheading the event alongside other organisations like Never again Rwanda and Generation for change, said they expect thousands to participate.
Initiated in 2009 by members of Peace and Love Proclaimers (PLP), Walk-to-Remember is an annual event designed to empower the Rwandan youth in the country and around the world to fight against Genocide.
“The preparations are done and we are now informing people to participate in the walk,” Gwamaka told The New Times yesterday.
He said they are currently moving in schools within East Africa sensitising and holding debates about the genocide as part of this year’s Walk to Remember.
The Walk is part of the preparatory activities ahead of the April 7 commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
The Remembrance Flame already on a tour around different districts in the country is also one of the activities .
Gwamaka said they also intend to send proposals to all Rwandan embassies and consulates to get involved in organising the event.
Last year, about 60,000 youth participated in the Walk-to-Remember in various countries.
Countries that will take part include Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Rwanda, china, Malaysia, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Netherlands.
Source: The New Times
Are you interested in participating in this initiative?
By Jean Pierre BUCYENSENGE
That is the name that still sends the chills down many a people’s spine in the present day Ruhango District, formerly Ntongwe commune.
Photo: Hundreds of residents defied scorching sun to welcome Kwibuka Flame in Kinazi, Ruhango District, on Saturday. Sorce: The New Times/ JP Bucyensenge
For each chill the name gives the people, the opposite reaction is the longing for the day Kagabo, a former bourgoumestre (mayor), would be brought to justice. He remains at large, 20 years later.
Kagabo, who is believed to have been the leader of militiamen that executed thousands in his mayoral jurisdiction as well as surrounding districts, especially in the then Mugina commune, is described as merciless, cold, calculative and vicious in his plots to exterminate Tutsis.
Survivors in both Kamonyi and the neighbouring Ruhango District accuse Kagabo and Burundian refugees in the area at the time of being at the forefront of the killings there.
Kagabo is said to have come up with “an elaborate plan to kill Tutsis and executed it with utmost care and in minute detail.”
The Burundians in question were those who were sheltered at the Nyagahama refugee camp, in the then Ntongwe commune.
“They [the Burundians] were stationed there in preparation of the killings which they would eventually commit,” says Samuel Dusabiyumva, a survivor and the head of the committee organising the burial of some 60,000 area Genocide victims.
“It was a plan to have them near places considered strategic and where it was believed Tutsis could hide.”
Nyagahama is also the place where the Burundians were picked from, paid, offered free transport and promised other rewards by then local leaders to kill Tutsis who had gathered in the then Mugina commune.
“He was tactical in his methods. He first targeted rich Tutsis and intellectuals. He emphasised both quality and quantity [in his killings] methods,” Dusabiyumva says of Kagabo.
Other survivors described Kagabo as “a mischievous leader who used his skills to exterminate Tutsis.”
“He was like a chameleon,” Dusabiyumva says. “He knew how to approach militiamen to mobilise them to kill and he had the charms to approach some Tutsis to know where they were planning to hide or escape through so he could send his killers after them.”
Sources say Kagabo was a medical worker and that he was sent to lead Ntongwe commune in the build up to the Genocide.
“May be the appointing authority knew him as someone who would successfully execute their genocidal plan,” Dusabiyumva says.
The Burundians enlisted by Kagabo joined hands with militia groups, gendarmes and soldiers to exterminate Tutsis, according to testimonies.
“If Kagabo was not the leader of the commune, the killings would never have been at the scale we saw. I bet so many Tutsis could have survived,” says Dusabiyumva.
Survivors believe Kagabo is alive and at large, probably in DR Congo.
It is estimated that more than 60,000 Tutsis perished in the former Ntongwe sector. The victims are set to be given a decent burial at a new memorial site being built in the area.
Testimonies indicate that the Burundians had been trained and offered military equipment in the build up to the Genocide. They used traditional weapons, grenades and rifles to execute Tutsis, survivors said.
“What they did was unimaginable. They killed Tutsis in the most horrific of ways. What saddens us the most is that they are still free, going about their lives in their country. The government should do everything possible to bring them to book,” Marie Claire Niyomujeje, a survivor, says.
Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the executive secretary for the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide, said efforts to track the Burundians and other foreigners accused of playing a role in the Genocide has been ongoing.
“I am confident that time will come when they will face justice,” he said.
Source: The New Times
by Paul NTAMBARA
As you read this, the Rwanda Defence Forces’ (RDF) Mechanized Infantry battalion of 850 Personnel has deployed to the Central African Republic () as part of an African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA).
The mission is mandated to protect civilians, restore security and public order. It is mandated to stabilise the country and restore state authority, support reform and restructure defence and security. It is also tasked to create conducive conditions to the provision of humanitarian assistance to the population in need.
The Central African Republic finds itself in dire straits following ethnic and political violence that has also taken a religious dimension. Media reports indicate that Muslims are being ‘butchered like sheep’ by Christian militants. The UN has warned of ‘seeds of a genocide’ being sown in the now volatile country.
The Country was thrown into chaos following the ouster of President Francois Bozize in March, last year, by the Séléka Muslim rebel coalition led by Michel Djotodia.
From then on, it has been free roll into anarchy. The rebel leader could not hold the Country together; He could not put to an end the inter-religious violence. Amid growing international pressure, Djotodia and his Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye resigned their positions. Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, the head of the National Transitional Council (CNT) is now the man at the helm as the world holds its breath.
I will not delve much into the country’s internal politics but rather focus on efforts to bring peace back to the troubled Country.
The deployment of the RDF in CAR comes at a time when Rwanda is marking the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 Genocide that claimed over one million Tutsi. No Country understands the consequences of indecisiveness by the international community, especially when human lives are on the line, more than Rwanda. This is what makes Rwanda’s Peace Support missions in countries like CAR seem like a ‘natural’ reaction. It is also in observance of the ‘Responsibility to Protect Principle and the ‘Never Again’ vow.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, speaking at an event in New York to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Genocide against Tutsi noted:
” When people are killed or violated in the name of religion, race or ethnicity, everybody’s humanity is diminished. We are all brutalised – victims and perpetrators as well as bystanders.”
The niggling question is what you do when you are ‘brutalised’, when your own humanity is diminished? History shows that the international community, under the umbrella of the UN, chose to be bystanders, only to ‘plead guilty’ after the victims had already gone through the throes of gruesome death.
I interpret the readiness of Rwanda to put its troops in harm’s way in Countries like Sudan, Haiti, South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Ivory Coast as a resolve not to be bystanders like the rest of the world was when the 1994 Genocide was unravelling in our own backyard. It is a fulfilment of the ‘Never Again’ vow.
The Rwandan troops have exhibited exemplary professionalism and discipline wherever they have been deployed.
Andre Roux, of the Institute for Security Studies, says of the RDF:
“The Rwanda army is in the top 20 per cent in Africa in terms of troop quality – young, very fit, good weapons skills and good command and control.”
There is no doubt that the country’s recent history is a motivating factor. Rwanda knows well the price of dithering; it cannot afford to make the same mistakes made by the international community twenty years ago.
It is the 6th biggest troop contributor in UN peacekeeping operations. The deployed troops have done more than ordinary troops on a peace support mission would do. They have introduced Rwanda’s homegrown solutions like community work, or Umuganda and built schools, roads and health centres. They have built peace and improved lives.
It is also prudent to recognise peace support efforts by other countries and organisations that have provided equipment and funded these missions. It is through this synergy that the world will uphold the principle of ‘Never Again’, for, in the words of Eliasson, “repeating ‘never again’ after atrocity is ‘a sign of continued failure’.
Did you know about…?
Séléka (also called the Séléka CPSK-CPJP-UFDR) is an alliance of militias in the Central African Republic that overthrew the government on March 24, 2013. Séléka leader Michel Djotodia has claimed himself President of the Central African Republic. Nearly all the members of Séléka are Muslim.
The rebel coalition originated in an agreement signed between factions of the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace(CPJP) and the Patriotic Convention for Saving the Country (CPSK), two of the CAR’s many anti-government militias.CPJP in this case refers to the “Fundamental” splinter group of the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace, one of many militias involved in the CAR’s long-running civil war. A different faction of the CPJP signed a peace accord with the government on August 25.
The Séléka first emerged on 15 September 2012 under the name alliance CPSK-CPJP, when it published a press release taking responsibility for the attacks on three towns that day.It was the last of the major rebel groups to do so.ThePatriotic Convention for Saving the Country (CPSK) was previously hardly known.
On 15 December 2012 the group published its first press release using the full name “Séléka CPSK-CPJP-UFDR”. This including the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR). Two groups that do not appear in the title, the long-standing militia Democratic Front of the Central African People (FDPC), and the newly minted Alliance for Revival and Rebuilding(A2R), were reportedly part of the alliance.
In September 2013 Michel Djotodia announced that Seleka had been dissolved.The disbanded group has dispersed into the countryside and have been committing mass atrocities according to Human Rights Watch.
Executions, rape and looting by ex-Seleka fighters after the coup and disbanding have formented religious tension where the population is 80 per cent Christian. Christian militas, using the name anti-balaka, have been formed to fight the Muslim Seleka. The United Nations is considering sending troops to stop the atrocities. On November 26, France indicated that it would boost its presence an additional 1,000 soldiers in the Central African Republic to augment its existent 400 troops if it receives U.N. backing.
GOVERNMENT OF RWANDA
26. 11. 2013
Kigali — Rwanda has launched the process of application for passports for Rwandan refugees who lost their refugee status as of June 30, 2013. The cessation clause was invoked because the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) deemed Rwanda safe for refugees who left Rwanda between 1959 and 1998 to return.
The process was launched last week in Zambia where over 4,000 Rwandan refugees can now apply for a Rwandan passport. The coming into effect of Cessation Clause left concerned Rwandan refugees with three options including: voluntary repatriation, local integration in the countries of asylum and application for exemption procedures.
While voluntary repatriation remains a priority, the government will issue national passports to Rwandan refugees who opt for local integration due to socio-economic ties they have established within their countries of asylum.
“We realise that some refugees have ties for example through marriage that would make it difficult for them to return to Rwanda. In this case, the government has made it possible for them to acquire passports so they gain legal status in those countries,” said Seraphine Mukantabana, Minister in charge of Refugee Affairs.
Zambian Government commends the initiative
In his remarks on the occasion of the launch of the Rwandan national passport application process, Zambian Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Stephen Kampyongo, commended the Government of Rwanda for making it easy for former refugees to acquire national passports while in Zambia and urged former Rwandan refugees who lost their status to acquire passports in order to legally be allowed to stay in Zambia.
“This for us is important because for the local integration to work in this country especially by way of Immigration Permits, possession of the National passport is a legal requirement,” said Mr. Kampyongo
From July to September 2013, 1399 Rwandan refugees have been repatriated from different countries.
The process of application for national passports for former Rwandan refugees launched in Zambia is expected to be extended into other countries, starting by countries hosting the largest number of Rwandan refugees affected by the Cessation Clause.
by Shifa MWESIGYE, 08/09/2013
Photo: M23 rebel fighters. File photo.
Image by: JAMES AKENA / REUTERS
The rebel M23 group have agreed to resume talks with Kinshasa in Munyonyo, in three days, time, after a respite in fighting in eastern DR Congo.
Regional leaders, meeting in Munyonyo, Kampala, last week, had given the rebels a 14-day ultimatum to conclude the talks. The rebels, who had protested the resumption of fighting back home, are now understood to have indicated a willingness to talk, according news agency reports at the weekend.
M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa was reportedly angry that the UN and Kinshasa ignored the talks and resumed the fighting, attacking his bases. The latest ultimatum followed an extra-ordinary meeting of the chiefs of defence forces and Foreign Affairs at the Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo, last week. The meeting also had representatives of the M23 and DR Congo.
After the meeting, President Museveni, who heads the regional peace effort, said:
“Dialogue between the two parties if carried forward, we can get M23 to come out peacefully so that UN forces deal with the other criminal forces that have been in Congo for years.”
The meeting resolved that as the dialogue resumes, the forces ensure maximum restraint on the ground to allow for talks to conclude. They also want M23 to end all military activities and stop war and threats to overthrow the Kinshasa government.
The delegates pledged to continue exerting pressure on the M23 and all other negative forces in eastern DRC to ensure that the war stops. They also requested the UN to find a definitive solution to the former M23 combatants interned in eastern Rwanda since March 2013.
U.S., UN Urge Congolese, Rwandan Restraint
Sudan News Agency (Khartoum), 08/09/13
Kigali — United States special envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa, former senator Russ Feingold, and United Nations counterpart Mary Robinson are in Rwanda on the last leg of a four-day trip to promote peace in the region.
Sounding upbeat about peace prospects and warning all sides against further military action, their joint visit came as Great Lakes regional leaders agreed this week that peace talks between the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government and M23 rebels should resume in Kampala within days.…read more
Congo-Kinshasa: Congo to Return to Negotiations With Rebels
The New Vision 08/09/13
Kinshasa — Democratic Republic of Congo said it would return to negotiations with eastern rebels next week after regional leaders set a two-week deadline for peace talks to end an 18-month-old rebellion.
A summit of five African presidents from the Great Lakes region called on Thursday for Congo to restart the stalled talks with the M23 insurgents within three days, after military successes left the government in a stronger position.…read more
THE NEW TIMES
23. August 2013
by Lonzen RUGIRA
Photo: Eric Kamba (Before It’s News)
I read with consternation an article titled “How Rwanda threatens its future’ by David Kampf which was published in The New York Times on August 16, in which he urges the international community to put pressure on Rwanda due to what he calls interference in the Congo.
He argues that because of Rwanda’s “longstanding ethnic rivalry,” its interference in the Congo is motivated by a “desire to create a protective buffer along the border.” He also points to a second motivation of wanting to control that country’s minerals.
For the uninformed of the western world, these may appear to be plausible assertions, especially since the person making them spent at least two years in Rwanda, from 2006 to 2008. The logic underlying his assertions, however, is problematic.
His point of departure that ‘collective guilt over the 1994 genocide’ resulted in the international community treating Rwanda with kid gloves is at best insensitive, at worst offensive.
Rwanda is unequalled in the region, possibly in Africa, in its management and use of aid. It is not merely guilt; it is the value for money donors get for their buck. There are also questions about the integrity of the NYT and its attitude towards Rwanda and Rwandans.
It is highly unlikely that it would publish an article in which the author calls on the Jews and Israel to stop the guilt trip and ‘get over the Holocaust.’ It is as if to say “Rwandans are Africans, after all” and to imply that somehow genocide against Africans can be minimised.
The idea that Rwanda interferes with the Congo because of the supposed Hutu-Tutsi rivalry is silly and naïve, to say the least. That Rwanda would go all the way to Congo to “create a protective buffer” against “the Hutu” when millions of them live inside the country is illogical.
And even if what he had in mind were the FDLR, all Rwanda has to do is tighten up on its internal security. The idea that only a buffer can contain the FDLR is therefore nonsensical. In fact, if the buffer was against genocidaires, it would have to be legitimate and warranted.
There is also the implied argument, which promotes the idea that the rebels in the Congo are merely ordinary Hutus – presumably fighting for some legitimate cause.
I don’t really know if the Rwandan army is in the DRC. What I can say is that if its not, then it ought to be. That is because no responsible government would accept the presence of an armed force, with an expressed intent to eliminate part of its population and an experience of slaughter, right across its border.
If any idea was powerful in the past decade, it was the Bush doctrine – the legitimacy of preemptive self-defence when faced with an existential threat, such as Al-Qaida terrorism in the American context and FDLR terrorism in the Rwandan context.
Despite the credit, this idea was not invented by Bush; it was originated and perfected as a foreign policy tool by the Jewish state.
Another way to minimise the genocidal threat faced by Rwanda is to argue that Rwanda’s ‘interference’ with the Congo is motivated by the pursuit of minerals.
Try to understand. Poor governance fuels wars, which sustain themselves through resource competition. Militias take control of the trade in minerals to buy guns from arms dealers under the connivance of international capital.
This cycle can only be stopped by an effective state that is able to police its entire territory and win the trust of its citizenry. This is the only way Congo will control its vast mineral resources. Kampf is right on this point, however: Rwanda cannot be blamed for Congo’s problems, its ‘inept and corrupt governance.’
Kampf is also right that Rwanda has made tremendous progress since the genocide in 1994. But it is in elaborating this point that he speaks from both sides of his mouth.
He calls for international sanctions against the government while admitting that the brunt of the hardships would fall on the ordinary Rwandans, and that the tremendous socioeconomic gains – in health and livelihood – would likely be reversed.
Yet, he still prefers sanctions to induce behavioral change. With friends like these who needs enemies?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the tradeoff. On one side is an existential threat and on the other is a threat of sanctions. No friend of Rwanda should wish for such a scenario.
And then the oft beaten drum: democracy. Kampf thinks that Rwanda’s progress is stunted by the supposed controls on civil liberties – human rights, freedom of expression and of the media, and political exclusion. So, is the country making tremendous progress or is it stunted?
He is also convinced that the country is ready to “explode” once Kagame leaves power. While he is entitled to his opinion, he should remember that there are millions of Rwandans in Rwanda whose interest in long-term peace and stability is enough to ensure that his fantasies will remain fantasies.
Clearly Rwanda is not a conventional multi-party democracy the likes of David Kampf are familiar with and would like to impose on everyone. But is its politics exclusionary?
For narrow-minded analysts unable to see beyond what is familiar, that certainly is how things look. However, as Frederick Golooba-Mutebi argued in The East African recently, post-genocide Rwanda has chosen the politics of accommodation over contestation.
Rwandans learned from the multiparty politics of the 1990s that competitive winner-take-all politics was bad for cohesion and harmony, and deciding on a consensus-based approach that favours power sharing.
As he demonstrated, politics in Rwanda would be exclusionary under a winner-take-all political system the likes of David Kampf want to impose on it, but which Rwanda’s leadership rejects.
Will the system change to suit the preferences of Western lesson givers of the David Kampf ilk? It is up to Rwandans, not patronising outsiders, to decide
VOICE OF AMERICA (Washington, DC)
by Nick LONG, 23. August 2013
Photo: UN NEWS SERVICE
Goma — The United Nations Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a new-style U.N. peacekeeping force with a uniquely robust mandate, has finally started fighting, the DRC government said Friday.
The force of more than 3,000 troops, mainly from Tanzania and South Africa, has been in eastern Congo for nearly three months and on Thursday opened fire on the M23 rebels.
This was the moment many people in eastern Congo had been waiting for …read more
UN NEWS SERVICE
24, August 2013
Warring Parties in Eastern DR Congo Must Protect Civilians, UN Agencies Urge
United Nations humanitarian agencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) strongly condemned the attacks that killed and wounded a number of civilians today as fighting flared between Government and rebel forces near the eastern city of Goma, and urged the parties to “take all precautions” to avoid such acts, and to allow access to relief workers.
“I condemn all attacks causing deaths and injuries among the civilian population, and remind all parties to the conflict that the indiscriminate or deliberate attack against civilians is a war crime”, said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in DRC, Moustapha Soumare.…read more
GUARDIAN GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT NETWORK (London)
Photo: Arne Hodalic/UNHCR
by Mary ROBINSON 12. August 2013
Women have suffered most as a result of conflict in DRC and the Great Lakes region – their voices must be heard
Not a week goes by without reports of fresh fighting in the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Violence and destruction have ravaged the Great Lakes region of Africa for two decades, claiming more than 5 million lives. Yet the situation rarely makes the headlines.
What strikes me is the lack of outrage and horror, particularly given the disproportionate impact the conflict is having on women and children. As I asked the UN security council last month, how can we accept a situation where rape and sexual violence – which, let us be clear, are war crimes – have become the norm?
When Ban Ki-moon asked me to become his special envoy for the Great Lakes in March, I felt a particular responsibility to the mothers, daughters and grandmothers who – since my first visit to the region, as president of Ireland in 1994 – have shared with me what they have suffered in Bujumbura, Bukavu, Goma, Kigali or Kinshasa.
In 20 years of killings, rape, destruction and displacement, these women have suffered most. Yet I believe they are the region’s best hope for building lasting peace. My job now, and the job of the international community, is to support them in every way we can.
Women’s voices should not only be heard because they are the victims of the war. Their active participation in peace efforts is essential, because they are the most effective peace builders. As men take up arms, women hold communities together in times of war. This makes them stronger and better equipped to play a key role in securing real peace, as we have seen in Northern Ireland, Liberia and elsewhere.
My approach to peace-building involves not just political leaders, but all of civil society, including women. Without their full support and participation, no peace agreement can succeed. How many secret deals have been negotiated in the Great Lakes region, only to be ignored or forgotten by the signatories for lack of transparency and accountability?
I believe the peace, security and co-operation framework for the DRC and the region, signed in Addis Ababa in February 2013 by 11 African countries, provides an opportunity to do things differently. That is why I have called it a framework of hope. I have started to work on its implementation top-down, with the 11 heads of state who signed the agreement, and bottom-up, with the people of the region who will be its real beneficiaries.
As the first woman to be appointed UN special envoy, I have promised to ensure that women’s voices are heard at the negotiating table. Last month, with Femmes Africa Solidarité and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, we brought together more than 100 women from across the region – including the gender ministers of the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi – in Bujumbura. One upshot of the meeting has been to ensure the consequences of sexual violence are included in the benchmarks we are developing to measure progress in the implementation of the peace agreement.
I feel energised by the leadership shown by the women I met in Bujumbura.
They are taking full responsibility for peace, security and development in the region. Reaching across national borders, they are innovative, collegial and practical. I rely on them to hold their leaders to account for the full implementation of the framework of hope.
As special envoy, I will continue to support female-led initiatives. I am pleased the World Bank has allocated $150m (£98m) to finance gender-based projects, in addition to the $1bn already pledged for the region. I encourage the donor community to be even more strategic in its support of the framework of hope. It is crucial to demonstrate the economic benefits of a lasting peace based on development – what I call the peace dividend.
Almost six months after the signing of the peace agreement, armed groups are still roaming in eastern Congo, sowing terror and destruction. This is not acceptable. I have heard the region’s people voice their frustration and anger at the slow pace of change. However, I am confident that, with the support of civil society – including women – we can succeed in bringing peace to the region.
I have often heard my friend Desmond Tutu, a fellow member of the Elders, say: “I am not an optimist, I am a prisoner of hope.” The women of the Great Lakes are keeping my hope alive.