Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Democratic Republic of the Congo: NGOs Ignoring Crisis in North Kivu

July 18, 2007

Contacts: Rick Neal and Sayre Nyce
ri@refugeeesinternational.org or 202-828-0110

Refugees International Bulletin

Democratic Republic of Congo: NGOs Ignoring Crisis in North Kivu

More than 160,000 Congolese have abandoned their homes since January 2007, when Tutsi warlord Laurent Nkunda, fresh from a peace deal brokered by his patron, Rwanda , began deploying troops across the eastern province of North Kivu . Quick action has brought immediate relief for some, but few humanitarian organizations, despite the availability of funding, have stepped forward to help as the crisis deepens and needs grow more acute.

The surge in displacement in North Kivu has been a predictable, if disturbing, aberration from the general progress made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) towards peace and recovery from war. The United Nations estimates that, cumulatively, 163,000 have fled since January, including thousands in the past week alone, and that another 170,000 could be displaced by the end of the year. The most affected areas are the territories of Rutshuru and Masisi in the southern part of the province, surrounding the city of Goma .

For some time, the population has lived with extortion and human rights abuses from two sides: the Congolese national army (the FARDC) and the remnants of the Hutu regime that orchestrated the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 (the FDLR). Laurent Nkunda and his troops make up a third force, which is now the most serious threat to civilians. Nkunda, supported by Tutsi-dominated Rwanda , is a renegade from the Congolese army and has long resisted efforts to integrate his Tutsi fighters with the FARDC and see them dispersed across the country.

The first wave of displacement occurred in January 2007 when Nkunda deployed troops rapidly into Rutshuru and Masisi. The arrival of Tutsi soldiers allied with Rwanda terrified the local Hutu population, and tens of thousands left their homes and fields for the safety of areas held by the FARDC. Nkunda's troops used the announcement of a formal FARDC offensive against the FDLR in April 2007 as an excuse to target civilians, accusing them of collaborating with the FDLR, and provoking a second wave of displacement. A third wave is now underway as the FDLR retaliates, accusing civilians in turn of collaborating with Nkunda.

One particularly hard-hit area lies to the north of Goma between Kiwanja and Nyamilima, near the border with Uganda . Abandoned villages line the road while the people hide in the forest, surviving as best they can. Tens of thousands have made their way to Nyongera, Kinyandoni, and Ngwenda, just north of Kiwanja, where they have found shelter with host families or in camps. Faced with the influx, residents have opened their doors, sharing their limited resources, which are already under strain due to drought. As one woman, who gave over part of her house to a family of six, explained, no one from the government or the humanitarian community has asked her what she needs or offered to help.

In some areas, many of the displaced, if not their hosts, do receive initial assistance. The World Food Programme (WFP) in North Kivu has dramatically improved its operations over the past year, and it strives to provide a full ration of food (2,100 calories per day) each month for 11,550 households in Rutshuru Territory . Many displaced also receive basic household items like plastic tarps, buckets, and blankets through the Rapid Response Mechanism, established in 2006 by UNICEF and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to ensure immediate assessment of needs and delivery of aid to newly displaced people in eastern DRC. Solidarités, the implementing agency for the Mechanism in North Kivu , also repairs water systems and installs temporary latrines for the displaced.

Beyond these immediate efforts, however, little help is available. Solidarités, as part of its duties, notifies other agencies of unmet needs, but there is no follow-up. Doctors Without Borders no longer provides free primary care for the displaced in North Kivu , a shift humanitarian actors were at a loss to explain. Those in need of healthcare sell their food rations to pay for care or forgo treatment altogether; in addition, the humanitarian community lost a credible source of data needed to assess the severity of the crisis and plan an effective response. UNICEF has been able to organize an innovative project with the local health department to provide free care, but only in six health centers in Rutshuru. Public health activities are also limited. The displaced do not have mosquito nets to protect themselves against malaria and HIV prevention is ignored, to the extent that some displaced said that they had heard of condoms on the radio but had never seen one.

One of the most serious gaps is in site management, which usually refers to planning and operating large, formal refugee camps. In this context, such camps are unnecessary; needs could be well met in the current arrangement of small, informal sites and host families. Currently, however, the displaced and their leaders are left to fend for themselves in setting up shelters and negotiating with local authorities for help. Registration is chaotic and numbers are inflated in the hope of procuring more assistance, which has the opposite effect as donors mistrust the process. Sites are not protected, with armed soldiers from nearby military camps wandering around at will. There is no screening process for new arrivals, leaving those who might need immediate assistance such as malnourished children, the elderly, pregnant women, and the sick to wait, sometimes for months, for the next distribution of food. Even help to reunite children separated from their families, a common aspect of humanitarian assistance in the DRC, is not assured.

In Masisi Territory , to the west of Rutshuru, even basic assistance is largely unavailable. Solidarités has just begun to visit concentrations of displaced people, but Caritas, WFP's implementing partner, does not have the means to distribute food there, and there is no medical agency to care for the displaced. In Buhabo, near the territorial capital of Masisi Center , the local chief has managed to find housing for the increasing number of displaced people fleeing Nkunda's forces, but his requests for help from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have gone unanswered. Even easily accessible areas, such as Minova, on the shores of Lake Kivu , do not get assistance because agencies working in the area do not have the capacity to respond.

Humanitarian response overall in the Kivus has improved this past year, especially with the advent of the Rapid Response Mechanism. However, the current crisis in North Kivu shows its limitations. When Solidarités had trouble meeting its obligations under the Mechanism because of the unexpectedly large movement of displaced people, UNICEF offered it increased funding to meet their needs. Solidarités refused, citing institutional inability to manage a larger project. UNICEF was then unable to find additional partners who could mobilize quickly to fill the gap. Likewise, Caritas has been denied support from the Pooled Fund, a donor mechanism controlled by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Kinshasa , to improve its capacity to distribute food for WFP. WFP has not been able to find another partner, with the displaced suffering the consequences. OCHA and sectoral lead agencies are simply unable to catalyze an appropriate response to the crisis; coordination of assistance has improved but advocacy is ineffective.

In fact, there are a number of humanitarian agencies, such as CARE International, Action Against Hunger, and Catholic Relief Services, that work in other parts of the Congo - and even other parts of North Kivu - but have not bothered to respond to the needs of the newly displaced. Such an emergency response, following the start of a shift to longer-term development, does not fit with their strategy or does not appear warranted. Needs are always high in the DRC and logistics are difficult. Finding staff is a challenge, and the humanitarian crisis in the DRC has dragged on for years. These explanations, however, are untenable under the circumstances; even insecurity, which is worrisome, has not prevented the United Nations and NGOs such as Solidarités from operating. In the face of ongoing attacks and displacement, the rest of the humanitarian community must shake off its complacency and start meeting its obligations.


  • NGOs immediately assess and respond to unmet needs among the newly displaced in the territories of Rutshuru and Masisi in North Kivu .
  • The DRC Humanitarian Coordinator and OCHA, as well as the US Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance and the European Community Humanitarian Office, step up pressure on NGOs to respond immediately to the crisis in North Kivu .
  • WFP find ways to increase and improve food distribution and monitoring by Caritas or find a new partner.
  • Medical NGOs begin offering health care to the displaced in Masisi, and NGOs like Oxfam implement public health projects to prevent malaria and AIDS.
  • UNICEF and Solidarités construct emergency water systems for the displaced north of Kiwanja to pump, treat, and distribute river water.
  • CARE International or other qualified organizations, led by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, intervene quickly in site management, to support committees representing the displaced, ensure proper registration, protect camp sites, and screen new arrivals for those needing immediate assistance.

Advocates Rick Neal and Sayre Nyce visited North Kivu in June 2007.

We need your help to audit the US Government’s assistance to the DRC!

Read the follow message and submit your reports and comments to Farhanaz Kermalli at KermalliF@gao.gov. Please reflect on your experiences in the DRC as the GAO will not be able to make it to the field the GAO while writing this report. Attached you will find a copy of the text of S.2125 (now Public Law 109-456) and the roundtable invitation sent to a few operational NGOs, human rights groups and think tanks.

S.2125—The Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006—was signed into law by President Bush on December 27, 2006. One of the legal requirements set forth by the Act was for a Report to be written on progress toward the 15 policy goals established by S. 2125 within a year of the legislation’s enactment. The 15 objectives in the bill cover everything from the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of former combatants; to helping the Government of the DRC meet the basic needs of its people; to halting the high prevalence rate of Gender Based Violence in the DRC. The Report will be written by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the independent and non-partisan agency that studies the programs and expenditures of the U.S. government.

Specifically, the report should include; progress made toward accomplishing the goals set forth by the legislation; a description of any major impediments that prevent their accomplishment; an evaluation of US policies and foreign assistance programs designed to accomplish the objectives and; recommendations for improving U.S. policies and programs and any additional bilateral or multilateral actions necessary to promote peace and prosperity in the DRC.

The GAO has called a small roundtable together of operational NGOs, human rights groups and think tanks to discuss these organizations’ perspectives on U.S. policy vis-à-vis the DRC and the major impediments to achieving the policy objectives outlined in S. 2125. In order to keep the discussion manageable, the participant list was limited. However, organizations that were not invited to the roundtable discussion have been provided an email address to send in reports or written comments to those working on the GAO report.

If you would like to contribute your perspective, please keep your remarks consistent with the questions at hand, with a focus on how the U.S. is doing in meeting the 15 goals and what the impediments are that may be preventing it from doing so. Framing your contribution in these terms will assure that it is relevant to the actual research that the GAO is conducting.

Reports and comments can be sent to Farhanaz Kermalli at KermalliF@gao.gov.

Warm Regards,

Kate Phillips-Barasso, CARE

Congo Global Action Member

Here are the S.2125 bill requirements:


(a) Report Required- Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to Congress a report on the progress made toward accomplishing the policy objectives described in section 102.

(b) Contents- The report required under subsection (a) shall include--

(1) a description of any major impediments that prevent the accomplishment of the policy objectives described in section 102, including any destabilizing activities undertaken in the Democratic Republic of Congo by governments of neighboring countries;

(2) an evaluation of United States policies and foreign assistance programs designed to accomplish such policy objectives; and

(3) recommendations for--

(A) improving the policies and programs referred to in paragraph (2); and

(B) any additional bilateral or multilateral actions necessary to promote peace and prosperity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo .

ENOUGH event in DC, Thursday, July 26th

Please join ENOUGH, Resolve Uganda , Genocide Intervention Network, the Save Darfur Coalition, and the Congo Global Action Coalition for an update on Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda Thursday, July 26th 10:30 a.m. at the Center for American Progress. The purpose of this meeting is to set the table for advocacy in the fall by providing a legislative update, and calendar of activities, events and actions items on Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda .

Thursday July 26th


Center for American Progress, 10th Floor Conference Room

1333 H St. NW

Washington, DC 20005

Map & Directions

Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center

If you plan on attending this important meeting please RSVP to Cory Smith at csmith@enoughproject.org

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Feature - Child soldiers still fight in Congo's new army

By Joe Bavier

GOMA, Congo, May 22 (Reuters) - Long after the end of Congo's civil war, child soldier Pierre was told he was finally going home.

The commanders in the renegade army brigade that forced him to fight said he would be free after a deal meant to bring peace to the violence-torn eastern province of North Kivu.

Instead, he was absorbed into the ranks of a new army brigade, one of hundreds of children being hidden within the ranks of Democratic Republic of Congo's government forces, according to the U.N. children's agency UNICEF.

"They lied. They told us we were going to be separated, and we would go to school," said Pierre, 17, after escaping from the Congolese army earlier this year.

"They took us to another base. It was just a way of keeping us from being seen," he said, declining to give his full name.

An estimated 33,000 children were fighting for armed groups at the height of Congo's 1998-2003 war.

Nearly four years after the official end to the conflict, some 4,000 children still remain active in army brigades, local militias and foreign rebel groups mainly in the volatile east, according to the United Nations.

The United Nations accuses five new government army brigades of hiding more than 300 children and sending some into combat, an act human rights campaigners say constitutes a war crime.

Following historic polls last year, President Joseph Kabila, Congo's first democratically elected leader in more than 40 years, vowed to deal with security issues in the east.

The creation of the five so-called mixed brigades was part of a scheme to integrate thousands of fighters loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda and end their near three-year campaign against government forces.

But the army initially blocked child protection workers from separating children early on in the process and many were quickly deployed in military operations.

"They are fast. They are brave. They are everything a commander would want. So they are definitely still an asset to the mixed brigades," said Claudia Seymour, child protection officer in North Kivu for Congo's U.N. peacekeeping mission.


Some rights observers say a new factor may be complicating efforts to separate children from Congo's armed groups.

In January, the Hague-based International Criminal Court decided there was enough evidence to put Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga on trial for recruitment and use of child soldiers, making his the first case to go before the new body.

"Anytime armies use children it is a war crime. Governments at the highest level can be held accountable for not removing them from their ranks," said Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher with U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.

"There's a deliberate strategy now to hide the fact they are committing crimes," she said.

In some cases child soldiers are grouped together and hidden. But underage fighters are also coached by their commanders to say they are over 18, Van Woudenberg said.

It is a phenomenon that's come to be known in Congo as the "Lubanga Effect".

"There aren't any children. We aren't hiding any. Why would we?" Colonel Sultani Makenga, who commands one of the mixed brigades, told Reuters, despite witness accounts and lists of children's names taken at the mixing sites.

But as commanders hamper the efforts of children's advocacy groups, many child soldiers are finding their own way out.

"As of today, we have separated 141 (from the mixed brigades). The majority have escaped. They continue to show amazing courage," Seymour said.

After six children fled his group and the rest were punished as result, Pierre began plotting his own escape.

"In our group there were 25 kids. They took our uniforms and kept us together. I was in charge of guarding the others. I waited until it got dark and I ran away," he said.

"I didn't join up of my own free will, and I never want to be a soldier again."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Providing aid in the Congo

Source: United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)

Date: 11 May 2007

Providing aid in the Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has long been riven with conflict. Despite the 2003 peace deal that ended years of devastating civil war, violence continues to claim lives and force people from their homes - particularly in the east of the country. Recent outbreaks of hostility in the capital Kinshasa have reinforced the need for effective development work to restore security to the nation and tackle the present humanitarian crisis.

DFID’s goal in DRC is to help the people and Government of the country achieve peace and reduce poverty. Our development programme has increased rapidly in recent years. From spending £5.56 million in 2001-02, we have £62 million available in 2006/7 and spending is set to increase further to £70 million in 2007-8, as long as the transition to democracy remains on track. DFID-funded projects that have achieved notable successes in the country include a HIV/AIDS awareness programme, a joint effort with Oxfam to provide water pumps and therefore clean water to villages, and the provision of vital healthcare to victims of rape.

The key components of DFID’s current programme are:

- To re-establish security and strengthen the justice system in the country;

- To support the transition to democracy, including £35.9 million spent on organising democratic elections;

- To help reconstruct the country by investing in transport links, health and education services;

- To provide humanitarian aid to the millions who need it, with funding going towards providing food and shelter, healthcare, and clean water; and

- To improve the management of the country's rich natural resources to benefit all its people.

Working to beat poverty

DFID is determined to help lay the foundations for the reduction of poverty in DRC. DFID supported a research exercise in 2005 in which 35,700 people were consulted throughout the country. For the first time these people had the opportunity to make their voices heard on what poverty means to them, its causes and what should be done to reduce it. This provided data for the development of the Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. DFID has been at the forefront of the development of this important document, and is committed to working with the new government to turn it into real action to tackle poverty across the country.

Useful Maps of Congo - Des Cartes Utiles

Chers partenaires, veiller trouvez les dernières mises à jours sur le site http://www.rdc-humanitaire.net

A. Cartes thématiques

1. Cartes des zones de santé

Le Service d'Information Humanitaire de OCHA RDC met à votre disposition les cartes de zones de santé:
Zone de santé par province
Date : Mai 2007 - Type : Carte thématique - Thème : Santé - Format : A3
3109 - Zones de santé dans le bas Congo / Kinshasa
3108 - Zones de santé dans l’Oriental
3107 - Zones de santé dans le Equateur
3106 - Zones de santé dans le Kasaï Occidental
3105 - Zones de santé dans le Kasaï Oriental
3104 - Zones de santé dans le Bandundu

2. Carte sanitaire : Taux de malnutrition dans les zones de santé

Cette carte a été réalisée suite à une enquête nutritionelle menée par l'organisation Action Contre la Faim ACF

3026 - Activité des projets RRM, PEAR et Protection Monitoring
Date : Mai 2007 - Type : Carte thématique - Theme : Humanitaire - Lieu : Kivu - Format : A3

3. Carte d'activités humanitaires : Sommaire d'activité du RRM et PEAR - Mars 2007

3026 - Activité des projets RRM, PEAR et Protection Monitoring
Date : Mai 2007 - Type : Carte thématique - Thème : Humanitaire - Lieu : Kivu - Format : A3 - Carte : 3026

Ces cartes sont téléchargeables dans les Cartes thématiques du centre de cartes du site :

B. Catographie à façon

1. Carte d'infrastructures: Etat - réhabilitation - accessibilité des routes

Type de route par provinces
Date : Avril 2007 - Type : Carte à façon - Thème : Infrastructure - Format : A3

· 4206 - Type de route dans l’Orientale
· 4205 - Type de routes dans le Katanga
· 4204 - Type de routes dans le Sud Kivu
· 4203 - Type de routes dans le Nord Kivu
Etat des routes par provinces
Date : Avril 2007 - Type : Carte à façon - Thème : Infrastructure - Format : A3

· 4202 - Etat des routes en Ituri
· 4201 - Etat des routes dans le Katanga
· 4200 - Etat des routes dans le Sud Kivu
Accessibilité des routes par provinces
Date : Avril 2007 - Type : Carte à façon - Thème : Infrastructure - Format : A3

· 4214 - Temps d’accès aux principales localités dans l’Ituri
· 4213 - Temps d’accès aux principales localités dans le Katanga
· 4212 - Temps d’accès aux principales localités dans le Sud Kivu
· 4211 - Temps d’accès aux principales localités dans le Nord Kivu
Accessibilité des routes par provinces
Date : Avril 2007 - Type : Carte à façon - Thème : Infrastructure - Format : A3

· 4210 - Réhabilitation des routes en Ituri
· 4209 - Réhabilitation des routes dans le Katanga
· 4207 - Réhabilitation des routes dans le Nord Kivu
· 4208 - Réhabilitation des routes dans le Sud Kivu

Ces cartes sont téléchargeables dans les Pestation à façon du centre de cartes du site :

Plus d'information sur l'action humanitaire en RDC sur http://www.rdc-humanitaire.net
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - -
Service d'Information Humanitaire (HIS)
Bureau de Coordination des Affaires Humanitaires des Nations Unies O C H A
République Démocratique du Congo

[Event] The Congo Independence Day Gathering: Cellphones for Congo

On Saturday June 30, 2007, The Bayindo Group SA, Cinema 116, in conjunction with the non-profit organization Leja Bulela Incorporated, is hosting a Congolese Independence Day fundraiser entitled “The Congo Independence Day Gathering: Cellphones for Congo. The gathering is to benefit the Kalala Muzeu Health Center initiative spearheaded by Leja Bulela Inc. (www.lejabulela.org). The event will take place at The Assistance League of Southern California located at 1370 North Saint Andrews Place, Hollywood California 90028. There is plenty of free parking adjacent to the building. The event will take place between 2pm and 6pm.

The Kalala Muzeu Health Center is a much needed hospital currently under construction in the Kasai Province of The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A video presentation on Congo’s recent history, an appreciation ceremony, a presentation on African and West Indian heroes, along with a preview clip from the upcoming movie “Once Upon a Time in the Congo” will be shown at this event.

Admission is $10.00 per person, or $5.00 if a person brings a used cellphone (or cellphones). All collected used cellphones will be turned over to an organization that will be processed into a check totaling the collected value of the used phones and that check will be donated to Leja Bulela Kalal Muzeu Health Center project.

Even though this event will take place in Los Angeles, California , you can still be a part of this initiative. To make this a global participation initiative, any cellphones collected in your local area can be mailed to The Bayindo Group SA office and will be donated in the senders’ name.

For further information, please contact Said Yenga Kakese Dibinga either via email said@thebayindgroup.com or by phone at 1.323.446.7181

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"War, Peace and Beyond"

W. Swing: "War, Peace and Beyond"
SRSG William Swing
08 may. 07 - 10.26h
MONUC Chief William Swing held a meeting at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington DC, on May 3 2007. “War, Peace and Beyond” is the title of his exposition where he explains MONUC achievements and the challenges laying ahead not only for this mission but for the whole UN peacekeeping operations.



A. A New Era for Peace-keeping

At the end of the Cold War, it was common in diplomatic circles to ponder what might most likely fill the ensuing vacuum. It didn’t take long, however, to find the answer. Between the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and today, less than two decades, there have been at least 111_armed conflicts. The vast majority of these were internally driven by clashes over control of a State’s government or territory. In central Africa alone, there have been 11 UN peacekeeping operations in 7 countries since independence, 10 of these since 1990. These conflicts together have cost between 1994 and 2004 in Angola, Burundi, Congo and Rwanda an estimated six million deaths (four million of these in the Congo and one million in Rwanda); countless wounded and HIV infected; more than 5.3 million IDPs; and more than 3.8 million refugees.

These figures do not reflect the incalculable economic and infrastructural destruction of these wars. Since the demise of the Cold War, war or the prospect of war on a global scale or between world powers, thus, has given way to a period of smaller, regional, intra-state conflicts. These conflicts have nonetheless been deadly, partly because of the proliferation of small arms as the downsizing of many armies in the post cold war era resulted in small arms surpluses which headed to the markets, in many cases with loose or no control.

That’s the bad news. There is some good news, however. First, the total number of wars has declined by about 50 percent since the 1990s. Second, whereas from 1946 to 1990, twice as many conflicts ended through victory rather than through negotiation, in contrast, between 1995 and today, negotiated settlements were 3 times as likely to end war as military victory. A recent International Peace Academy study found that “more wars have ended than started since the mid-1980s, reducing the numbers…..of armed conflicts in the world by roughly half .” It notes that 70 percent of these were concluded through negotiation rather than outright victory or defeat. The United Nations has been associated to the resolution of many of the major conflicts.

B. New Skills and New Partners for a New Era

If there is a lesson to be learned from all of this, perhaps the most obvious is that peacekeeping and nation-building skills must urgently be added to traditional war-fighting skills. Certainly, in Haiti, where 21,000 US troops invaded in 1994 in “Operation Restore Democracy” to restore the legitimately-elected President, the US force suddenly had to undertake a range of non-traditional military tasks, including reconstruction, public health and rule of law, in addition to helping maintain public order. In the recently-concluded national and provincial elections in the Congo – the largest elections that the UN has ever assisted – MONUC troops, besides helping provide electoral security, helped distribute electoral materials and undertake many other “extra-curricular” activities in support of the electoral process.

It is essential that UN multi-lateral peace operations be undertaken in close collaboration with regional and sub-regional organizations. This worked well in Haiti, for example, whereby the UN furnished the peace-keeping force and the Organization of American States (OAS) provided the human rights mission with substantial UN financing. In the same vein, in the Congo, despite the heavy UN investment in personnel, aircraft and financing, the process has remained a quintessentially African process. Our two main regional partners, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and, of course, South African President Mbeki, are major players in the process, a process which is unthinkable without them.

In addition, on two occasions, at the United Nations’ request, the European Union came to MONUC’s aid in emergencies: from June to September 2003 in Ituri with “Operation Artemis”, a multi-lateral military force led by France to stabilize the capital Bunia and give the Secretary-General the three months he needed to assemble an Ituri brigade. Again, from July to December 2006, “EUFOR”, a multi-lateral force led by Germany and France, helped MONUC to maintain stability in Kinshasa, especially during the elections. This paradigm could be replicated to give other current and future United Nations missions a temporary surge capacity in emergencies.

As a general policy, the United Nations strongly favours more engagement by regional organizations and actors, as the overall peacekeeping demand outstrips the supply available from any single organization. While doing so, it is important to keep in mind that there can be and often is significant difference from one regional organization to another in terms of mandate, regional coverage, finances, capacity and political acceptance by the parties to a conflict. The United Nations, however, still remains the single organization capable of mounting a multi-disciplinary response under the leadership of a single “commander in theatre” – the SRSG – bringing together political, military, electoral, human rights , humanitarian and other skills under a single strategy in any part of the world.

C. Process becomes the Substance

There is perhaps a further lesson to be learned from the past 20 years, in which negotiations have played a more dominant role; and that is that the process is all-important. If the DRC is taken as an example, it can be argued that the “process becomes the substance”. A credible, effective process is key to meeting most, if not all, peace-keeping challenges. At least three or four elements are essential to a successful process:

* an International Legal Framework (In the case of the Congo, this consists, among others, in 5 major peace agreements and several other regional accords; more than 35 UN Security Council Resolutions; and the International Great Lakes Pact on Security, Stability, Peace and Development.);

* Implementing Mechanisms (MONUC, the International Committee to Accompany the Transition – CIAT; the Tripartite Commission Plus; Joint Verification Commission and Joint Verification Teams; the Eminent Persons Group; the Contact Group, et al.); and

* Financial Resources Commensurate with the Mandate (with some $5 billion invested in the Congolese Peace Process, MONUC is funded at $1 billion per year.)

* Regional support: albeit intra-state, modern conflicts can and often do have regional ramifications. Unsupportive neighbors can play a significant spoiling role. Their commitment to the success of the peace process, on the other hand, can be critical for its success, not least by denying re-supply routes and safe-havens to warring factions, thus pushing them to abandon the military option and sit on the negotiation table.

Yet, there’s also a final element – the most essential of all – the will of a people to be free and to elect freely their leaders. It was true in South Africa in the nineties. It is true today in the Congo.

D. Having a strategy and the required means to implement it

The successes and failures of peacekeeping operations have also taught us several additional lessons: (1) do not go in unless you have the right strategy (mandate), (2) do not go in unless you have the resources to implement this strategy; and (3) one size does not fit all. In Somalia in 1991, the international community moved with appropriate resources to keep the peace, including the presence of well-equipped, trained and supported US-Army troops. The mandate was ill-defined, however, leading to a failure which is known by the public at large as “Black Hawk down”. This, together with the international community’s failure to prevent genocide in Rwanda in 1994 seriously eroded confidence in peacekeeping. In short, when moving in, it is critical to have both the adequate strategy to “win the peace” and the means to implement it. Finally, there is no “one-size fits all” strategy: each peacekeeping intervention should be conceived in a way that takes into account the specificities of the conflict, the nature and interest of the key national and international players, and the state of regional relations.


A. Peace-keeping: the United Nations’ Cardinal Role

The United Nations was founded in the aftermath of World War II “to save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war” (United Nations Charter Preamble). Established against a background of the deadliest war in modern times, the United Nations has no more urgent or enduring mandate than that of peacekeeping. And while, as we shall see in the latter part of my presentation, peace is more than the absence of war, a stable peace is the foundation of progress and development.

The study quoted and other recent analyses highlight “of the wars ended since 1988, the United Nations has exercised some peace-building role in half of these, including several in Southern Africa and West Africa”. Further, international “peace operations can help reduce a country’s risk of reversion to war.”

As others have noted, peacekeeping is the most cost-effective means of addressing chaos or reversion to chaos, and “the rise of international peace-keeping deserves significant credit for the decline in civilian deaths since the end of the Cold War.” Recent studies on peace-keeping in Haiti by Rand and the GAO reach a similar conclusion independently.

In one of his first remarks on UN peace-keeping, Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon observed that “no other multi-national actor deploys the same number of military and civilian personnel. No bilateral partner engages in multiple field operations of such scope and contingency.” Taking the Secretary-General’s remarks further, I believe that it is statistically correct to say that (a) the United Nations today is the world’s largest single repository of peace-keeping experience and skill; (b) that the United Nations does peace-keeping more economically than most. It is not surprising, therefore, that the United Nations is currently managing 19 peacekeeping operations on four continents, comprising more than 100,000 personnel drawn from more than 100 countries. More than 70,000 of these are uniformed personnel. Other than the United States, no single State or organization has as many uniformed personnel deployed oversees on the ground under its flag.

The number of such peace operations, some nineteen, is at an all-time high, with more than 100,000 personnel in the field. In 2006 alone, the UN negotiated memoranda of understanding with more than 100 troop contributing countries; MONUC’s military force itself is composed of 52 nationalities and MONUC as a whole has 116 nationalities; the UN transported 800,000 passengers, and 160,000 metric tons of cargo by air; and operated more than 200 hospitals and clinics.

There are other reasons that the United Nations has become the organization of choice for peace-keeping. For example, some governments and organizations have the requisite resources yet may not be perceived as impartial; while others with an image of impartiality may lack the resources. As a Security Council institution, a United Nations peacekeeping mission has both – resources, and an image, reputation and record of impartiality.

B. Exponential Expansion of Peace-keeping

United Nations peace-keeping has entered a period of the greatest expansion since it began formally in 1948. In addition to the nineteen peace-keeping operations already operating globally, new missions are currently under active consideration, including Somalia, Chad, and the Central African Republic. As a result, the global budget for peace-keeping, which operates on assessed-funding, has more than doubled in five years:

2001 -- $2.8 billion;
2007 -- $5.5 billion; and
2008 -- $7 to $8 billion.

To keep this in perspective, however, the total cost of UN peacekeeping since 1948 is still less than $60 billion. What price peace? Costly, by any standard. The most expensive peace, however, is still a better bargain than the cheapest war.

C. Chapter VII -- Aggressive Peace-keeping

By definition, to do peace-keeping, there has to be a peace to keep. Yet, even where there is peace, that is, an end to the fighting, as one person put it so well recently, “in the new international reality, peace is actively made, not passively kept”. So today, there is a trend emerging toward more aggressive peace-keeping whereby the Blue Helmets are authorized under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter “to use all necessary means” to fulfill some aspects of their mandate. Blue Helmets are more likely to use lethal force today in keeping the peace than in earlier decades when Missions were more passive, the classical Chapter VI cease fire observation peacekeeping operations. Being combat-trained, many peace-keepers may find peace-keeping rather frustrating, at least initially. The new pro-active military operations in peace-keeping may help dissipate some of their tension with regard to more traditional peace-keeping.

The outer edges of peacekeeping under Chapter VII mandates can entail considerable risks and require troops with combat experience and capabilities. At the same time, Chapter VII peacekeeping is different from war fighting and requires doctrine, training, tools and techniques uniquely tailored accordingly.

The move from Chapter VI passive, towards Chapter VII robust and aggressive peacekeeping is also a by-product of the end of the Cold War. Indeed, robust international intervention in resolving a conflict is no longer as likely to be vetoed in the Security Council by its permanent members. The resolution of intra-state conflicts is no longer tributary to the preservation of a global equilibrium – or a status quo – between two antagonistic superpowers.

Based on my own modest experience, the move towards robust and more aggressive peacekeeping is a welcome development. Having served as Special Representative in Western Sahara with a Chapter VI mandate and in the Congo, first with a Chapter VI mandate and for the past three years with a Chapter VII mandate, I have a decided preference for Chapter VII as a better means of achieving one’s mandate. A more active, aggressive form of peace-keeping is achieving results in the Congo where it has been partly driven by the very size of our force.

Although our 17,000 strong force is popularly touted as the largest UN peace-keeping force, it is small relative to the size of the country and the challenge – it constitutes the same size force as the UN had in Sierra Leone, which is one twenty-fourth the size of the Congo. MONUC now has attack helicopters and Special Forces; and regularly undertakes joint military operations with the Congolese army (FARDC) against foreign armed elements such as the ex-FAR and the Interahamwe. We at MONUC have pushed the Chapter VII envelope further than perhaps any other mission but, in doing so, have always striven to be prudent in order to avoid disproportionate use of force; collateral death or damage; and to avoid increasing the number of internally-displaced persons (IDPs).

Perhaps this current trend toward aggressive peace-keeping has contributed to the phenomenon of an apparent division of labor between the Third World that supplies the lion’s share of UN troops; and Western countries that supply the bulk of the financing. The latter tend to send troops to places such as Kosovo but not to Africa, except for the French to their former colonies. Contrary to popular misperceptions, however, some UN missions are conducting combat operations, with extremely capable forces from countries such as India and Pakistan (which, unfortunately, have had considerable battle experience and certainly more so recently than most western countries), amongst others, equipped with heavy fire-power, and robust mandates and rules of engagement in such places as the DRC and Haiti.


A. While peace is peace-keeping’s proximate objective, peace-keeping is important for other reasons as well. Peace for what, we may ask? One of our most important tasks is to assist with elections. The Secretary-General’s Electoral Assistance Division is arguably the world’s largest repository of cumulative electoral experience, management and hands-on expertise.

The Congo is one of the most recent countries to hold democratic elections. It did so against all odds. The Congolese elections are the largest elections that the UN has supported: The largest country (the size of Western Europe); the largest electorate (25 million); and the largest challenge (no roads; no I.D. cards; no recent census; no multi-party elections in 40 years). In fact, the United Nations has never undertaken anything quite on the scale of the Congolese elections.

As democracy is a process and not merely an event, however, elections in themselves will not insure democracy. Without elections, however, which are events that punctuate the democratic process, a country is unlikely to become a democracy.

A plethora of tasks lie before the Congo -- and before the UN and the international community. A number of the tasks are left over from the transition: establishing a capable, responsible army and civilian police force; justice reform, including courts and prisons and generally helping establish the rule of law; local elections; an end to impunity and corruption; and many, many more issues to be tackled.

B. A “Sustainment Strategy”

A major global challenge to us all in the world community is to remain engaged following successful elections in countries emerging from conflict. Our record as international community in assisting “post-conflict” societies is better than our performance in responding to the immediate requirements of “post-electoral” societies. Ironically, the exponential increase in popular post-electoral expectations too often confronts a countervailing donor tendency to reduce support after successful elections. Since elections constitute the all-vital bridge between peace-keeping and peace-building, continuity of support is vital.

The Congo is a case in point. The rather remarkable international alliance that was built and maintained over the past eight years needs to continue, more than ever. The Congo is a vast, potentially rich country that has no “lead nation” as partner; and daunting challenges await the Congo -- a country in which everything is broken but the human spirit. A country in which everything is a legitimate priority, including SSR; humanitarian crisis; good governance; rule of law; army, police, judicial reform, etc.

Looking back on my time as a diplomat, perhaps my greatest frustration is that as diplomats, we are given issues to resolve that have only a long-term solution, yet we are given short-term commitment and a one-year budget, often as not un-renewable. For Government commitment to peace-keeping to be credible, it would have to be more clearly reflected in budget requests for peace-keeping. And to help our respective governments, we as diplomats would need to make a more compelling case to our parliaments, governments and peoples as to why precisely a certain policy or course of action is in their interest.

In most post-election situations, a “sustainment strategy” – not an exit strategy – is required. For this to happen, a change in our own thinking must occur. The UK’s 10-year commitment, e.g., to help Sierra Leone build a new army reflects a realistic appreciation of the importance of remaining engaged if peace is to become enduring. To insure that Member States’ original investments in “post-conflict” societies achieve permanent positive results, further investment will be needed.

During my four years as ambassador to Liberia, for example, the US provided Liberia half billion dollars in aid; very shortly thereafter, however, this commitment was scaled back. Similarly, as ambassador to Haiti, our aid program to Haiti immediately following the return of President Aristide was $235 million along with a heavy commitment in terms of US troops and political support; gradually, however, within the next year or so, this engagement was drastically reduced, and the results are now well known. In both cases, as well as more recently in East Timor, the international community abandoned the terrain prematurely; and, in each of these instances, peace-keepers had to return not long thereafter, but each time with greater difficulty and at greater expense.

By contrast, the world community remained committed in Sierra Leone, as in Liberia today, well after elections, and the positive results are quite evident. The time has perhaps come to recognize that peace-keeping as a concept and a practical matter is likely to be a permanent fixture in world affairs for some considerable period of time; therefore, support for peace-keeping will require a more sustaining quality than in recent years.

The postulate remains valid that there is no security without development just as there is no development without security. The withdrawal of peacekeepers should be calibrated with the acceleration of development assistance in order to provide “peace dividends” and consolidate the peace. This requires, again, longer-term commitments of the international community to a given process.

C. The Era of the “Big Mission”

None of this will be easy. Besides the global expansion of peace-keeping operations, Member States will be confronted with the new phenomenon of the “big mission”. And now, there are two: the Congo and the Sudan – either of which is larger than all the other countries together in which the UN currently has peace-keeping missions. These are continent-size countries with major populations – the Congo with 60 million, and the Sudan with more than 40 million. The issue then becomes one of cost and sustainability. Member States will increasingly be asked to support peace-keeping missions that have annual budgets of $1 billion or more, that is, $3 million a day. It won’t be easy, but it will increasingly be in our individual and corporate interest to find the means to sustain peace operations in the interest of us all.


The Cold War’s demise has ushered in a new era of international activism in which negotiations and peace-keeping are undergoing unprecedented expansion, offering, for perhaps the first time on a global scale, an alternative to force in the settlement of disputes.

To be successful, these peacekeeping operations require new skills, regional partners, and more aggressive Chapter VII operations to protect civilian life. A new approach by Governments is also currently required, one that recognizes peace-keeping as a permanent global concern, both in budgetary and other terms. Admittedly, at a time of exponential expansion of peacekeeping operations, the budgetary implications of these requirements are significant, but not if measured against the considerably greater loss on investment of abandoning “post-electoral” societies prematurely.
Chers Frères, Chères soeurs du RDC,
Je vous encourage à continuer le combat pour votre chère patrie. Moi je suis une amatrice de l’environnement et je saurais pas vous dire comment la dégradation de l’écosystème forestière est une perte énorme pour le monde. C’est encore révoltant de voir les mines du pays qui ne profitent pas aux nationaux.

Dernièrement un article apparu dans East Africa du
16-22 Avril m’a révolte alors en route sur Nairobi, Voila l’hôtesse qui m’amène un journal que je parcoure
calmement. Un titre attire mon attention: EUROPEAN
LOGGERS PLUNDERING CONGO RAINFOREST FOR TEAK Riduculous : Communities are given gifts such as bags of salt and crates of beer worth less than $ 100.
Alors j’ai lu la suite qui me révèle que des compagnies européennes font signer les locaux des contrats sans que ces derniers connaissent le contenu des contrats. Quant ces mêmes gens crient haut et fort que le monde est menace de changement climatiques alors qu’ils n’hésitent pas de détruire le patrimoine forestier. Vraiment essayons d’agir vite avant qu’il ne soit trop tard. Je ne sais pas comment vous être utile mais je suis à votre disposition.
Bonne chance dans votre combat et a Bientôt

Marie- Ange Kigeme

Where anti-Arab prejudice and oil make the difference

The contrast in western attitudes to Darfur and Congo shows how illiberal our concept of intervention really is

Roger Howard
Wednesday May 16, 2007
The Guardian

In a remote corner of Africa, millions of civilians have been slaughtered in a conflict fuelled by an almost genocidal ferocity that has no end in sight. Victims have been targeted because of their ethnicity and entire ethnic groups destroyed - but the outside world has turned its back, doing little to save people from the wrath of the various government and rebel militias. You could be forgiven for thinking that this is a depiction of the Sudanese province of Darfur, racked by four years of bitter fighting. But it describes the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has received a fraction of the media attention devoted to Darfur.

The UN estimates that 3 million to 4 million Congolese have been killed, compared with the estimated 200,000 civilian deaths in Darfur. A peace deal agreed in December 2002 has never been adhered to, and atrocities have been particularly well documented in the province of Kivu - carried out by paramilitary organisations with strong governmental links. In the last month alone, thousands of civilians have been killed in heavy fighting between rebel and government forces vying for control of an area north of Goma, and the UN reckons that another 50,000 have been made refugees.

How curious, then, that so much more attention has been focused on Darfur than Congo. There are no pressure groups of any note that draw attention to the Congolese situation. In the media there is barely a word. The politicians are silent. Yet if ever there were a case for the outside world to intervene on humanitarian grounds alone - "liberal interventionism" - then surely this is it.

The key difference between the two situations lies in the racial and ethnic composition of the perceived victims and perpetrators. In Congo, black Africans are killing other black Africans in a way that is difficult for outsiders to identify with. The turmoil there can in that sense be regarded as a narrowly African affair.

In Darfur the fighting is portrayed as a war between black Africans, rightly or wrongly regarded as the victims, and "Arabs", widely regarded as the perpetrators of the killings. In practice these neat racial categories are highly indistinct, but it is through such a prism that the conflict is generally viewed.

It is not hard to imagine why some in the west have found this perception so alluring, for there are numerous people who want to portray "the Arabs" in these terms. In the United States and elsewhere those who have spearheaded the case for foreign intervention in Darfur are largely the people who regard the Arabs as the root cause of the Israel-Palestine dispute. From this viewpoint, the events in Darfur form just one part of a much wider picture of Arab malice and cruelty.

Nor is it any coincidence that the moral frenzy about intervention in Sudan has coincided with the growing military debacle in Iraq - for as allied casualties in Iraq have mounted, so has indignation about the situation in Darfur. It is always easier for a losing side to demonise an enemy than to blame itself for a glaring military defeat, and the Darfur situation therefore offers some people a certain sense of catharsis.

Humanitarian concern among policymakers in Washington is ultimately self-interested. The United States is willing to impose new sanctions on the Sudan government if the latter refuses to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force, but it is no coincidence that Sudan, unlike Congo, has oil - lots of it - and strong links with China, a country the US regards as a strategic rival in the struggle for Africa's natural resources; only last week Amnesty International reported that Beijing has illicitly supplied Khartoum with large quantities of arms.

Nor has the bloodshed in Congo ever struck the same powerful chord as recent events in Somalia, where a new round of bitter fighting has recently erupted. At the end of last year the US backed an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia to topple an Islamic regime that the White House perceived as a possible sponsor of anti-American "terrorists".

The contrasting perceptions of events in Congo and Sudan are ultimately both cause and effect of particular prejudices. Those who argue for liberal intervention, to impose "rights, freedom and democracy", ultimately speak only of their own interests. To view their role in such altruistic terms always leaves them open to well-founded accusations of double standards that damage the international standing of the intervening power and play into the hands of its enemies.

By seeing foreign conflicts through the prism of their own prejudices, interventionists also convince themselves that others see the world in the same terms. This allows them to obscure uncomfortable truths, such as the nationalist resentment that their interference can provoke. This was the case with the Washington hawks who once assured us that the Iraqi people would be "dancing on the rooftops" to welcome the US invasion force that would be bringing everyone "freedom".

Highly seductive though the rhetoric of liberal interventionism may be, it is always towards hubris and disaster that it leads its willing partners.

· Roger Howard is the author of What's Wrong with Liberal Interventionism

U.N. Extends Congo Peacekeeping Mission

Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo until the end of the year while calling for a timetable to gradually withdraw the nearly 18,000-member force.

The resolution extending the force's mandate deplored outbreaks of violence earlier this year and urged the government and opposition to remain committed to reconciliation and democracy. It demanded that all militias and armed groups in volatile eastern Congo lay down their arms.

The mineral-rich central African nation has been wracked by years of war and decades of dictatorship. Last year, the country held its first free elections in more than 40 years, but the government led by President Joseph Kabila remains fragile.

The council stressed the Congolese government's primary responsibility for ensuring security and protecting civilians, and urged that state to extend its authority throughout the country.

It authorized the U.N. force to help the government protect civilians, report on the movement of armed groups, deter any attempt by armed groups to threaten the political process and train law enforcement authorities.

The U.N. mission was also authorized to support efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and promote national reconciliation and human rights.

The resolution authorized the force "to use all necessary means within the limits of its capacity" to carry out its mandate, extended until Dec. 31.

Last month, the council expressed "grave concern" about the loss of lives, especially civilians, in March 22-25 clashes between Congolese security forces and guards of Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former warlord who was runner-up in the presidential election. Dozens were killed in the bloodshed.

The resolution adopted Tuesday "exhorts the democratically elected authorities to respect the space and role conferred on the opposition parties by the constitution in order to ensure their effective participation in the national political debate."

Congo's U.N. Ambassador Atoki Ileka said the government had asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to come up with a plan for the gradual withdrawal of the peacekeeping mission, which is the U.N.'s largest.

He said that in the short term, the mission should remain at full strength, but in the long run "it's good to have an exit strategy."

The resolution asks Ban to submit a report by Nov. 15 with benchmarks and a timetable for the gradual withdrawal of the force.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

CongoFest Summer Games’07 in Los Angeles, California

The Congolese Communities of California, in association with ASCO, Inc. (Association Sportive Congolaise), with the support of the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is proud to bring CongoFest Summer Games’07 to Hollywood_California, from Thursday, June 28th to Sunday, July 1st, 2007 at the following venues:

- Lawndale High School Soccer Fields (Soccer Games and Outdoor functions);
- Crowne Plaza Hotel at L.A.X (Diner receptions);
- Hollywood Park Casino (Live Concert and Grand Finale Independence Reception)

The four days festivities, from 06/28/2007 to 07/01/2007, will commemorate simultaneously the 47th Anniversary of the Independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as the 7th Annual Congolese Summer Soccer games, regrouping teams from 14 states (U.S) and 2 teams from Canada.
Given the magnitude of this year’s event(3-4,000 anticipated attendees), all contacts have been made with local as well as media from the Congolese diaspora from Canada, England, Belgium, France and D.R Congo to attend, and broadcast the festivities to their respective areas of coverage.
The following activities will provide to our guests and sponsors, we believe, a unique and pleasant experience amongst the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Africa in general:

• Soccer Tournament (Organized by ASCO).
• Fashion Show.
• African Art & Photo Expo.
• Kidz’n Hollywood Entertainment.
• Fundraising Dinner.
• Live performance by Gospel singers.
• Live performance by Leading Congolese Artists.
• Women Health Seminar.
• Grand Finale Dinner Party.
• Congolese Business Expo.
• Taste of Congo ( A daily tasting experience of various cuisine from the Democratic Republic of Congo).

- Lawndale High School Soccer Fields (Soccer Games and Outdoor functions);
- Crowne Plaza Hotel at L.A.X (Diner receptions);
- Hollywood Park Casino (Live Concert and Grand Finale Independence Reception)

We would like your organization to be apart of this Special 3-day Event.

CongoFest Summer Games, now in its 6th year, is a socio-economical and cultural 3-day event during the Summer, organized by ASCO, Inc. in collaboration with Congolese Communities throughout the United States of America, with the main objective to Uplift our Sense of Community and encourage the Congolese Diaspora to Make a Difference and Become Involved in the Reconstruction of our beloved country, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As in previous years, the festivities will coincide with the anniversary of the Independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo (47th). Though the main attraction during the day remains our much anticipated 6th Annual Congolese Summer Soccer games, opposing approximately 15 teams from 15 cities/ states of the U.S.A., we have also planned a series of activities ranging from children’s activities, fashion show, women’s health seminar, African business forum, gospel concert, a taste of Congolese Cuisine, a fundraising dinner for the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation as well as live performance concert by a list of local African artists.

Given the magnitude of this year’s event (more or less than 2,500 anticipated attendees), we believe MoneyGram International, Inc. and other organizations can certainly use the exposure, and take advantage of this opportunity to present its line of products to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and ultimately increase its brand awareness among Congolese and other African guests sending money home on a daily basis. Additionally, we will create a souvenir brochure highlighting the memorable moments of CongoFest_Summer Games’07.

For the Congolese Communities of California (Home of CongoFest Summer Games’07) and ASCO, Inc,

Jules Boyele (President of CCSC)
Hughes Efole (Project Director)
Serge Kabeya (Treasurer)
Dennis Somanza (Public Relations)
Ben Mandela (Public Relations)

CongoFest Comes to Hollywood_Summer’07

Dozens killed in DRC military offensive


May 03 2007 at 12:19AM

Kinshasa - At least 42 Rwandan Hutu rebels and four government soldiers have been killed in a crackdown by the Democratic Republic of Congo's military in the strife-torn east, the UN said on Wednesday.

The FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda rebel group) have lost at least 42 men, while four DR Congo soldiers have died in a combat zone north of the eastern town of Goma, it said.

The United Nations, which released casualty figures provided by the army, is not taking part in the operation, which is being carried out by soldiers and former rebels.

DRC soldiers began the offensive in North Kivu last week, deploying six battalions, or about 3 500 men, to secure two arterial roads linking the town of Goma, the regional capital, and Ishasha on the Ugandan border.

The violence has prompted hundreds to flee their homes

On April 16, suspected FDLR rebels attacked a minibus on the road between Goma and Ishasha, killing a student. Three days earlier, they exchanged gunfire with DRC soldiers on the same road.

The violence has prompted hundreds to flee their homes.

Gabriel de Brosses, a spokesperson for the UN force in Congo (MONUC), said about 890 people had been displaced by the latest fighting.

Andrew Zadel, of the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA), said it was "very difficult to have a clear idea of population movements in the war zone as humanitarian workers lack access."

He said that more than 113 000 people had been displaced since the start of the year in the province of North Kivu, of which Goma is the capital.

Rwandan Hutu fighters, estimated to be about 10,000-strong by the United Nations, are still present in eastern DR Congo.

They led 14 attacks in April in the Walungu and Kabare areas, according to Kemal Saiki, a MONUC spokesperson.

Another 72 people were kidnapped and several rapes were reported.

Some of the rebels are accused of having participated in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. About 800 000 people, most of them ethnic Tutsis, were killed within six weeks in Rwanda by members of the Hutu ethnic group. - Sapa-AFP

UNHCR launches plan to help Congolese refugees return from Zambia

MWANGE REFUGEE CAMP, Zambia, May 3 (UNHCR) – More than 400 Congolese refugees who had sheltered in Zambia headed back to their homes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Thursday as the UN refugee agency launched a three-year voluntary repatriation programme.

"This is a historical day because it marks the start of the organized voluntary repatriation of Congolese refugees from Zambia," said Vedasto Mwesiga, UNHCR acting representative in Zambia. "Having just concluded the repatriation of Angolan refugees in January this year, today is the beginning of yet another milestone in our search for durable solutions for refugees in this country."

The ceremony at the refugee camp near the DRC border in the north of Zambia followed negotiations between UNHCR and the two governments over the details of the programme, which they agreed to continue until the end of 2009.

Senior Zambian government officials attended the departure of the first convoy with 414 returning refugees headed to the Zambian town of Mpulungu on eight buses and four trucks. They will leave Zambia by boat on Friday and travel along Lake Tanganyika to the DRC port of Kalemie.

"We plan to repatriate up to 20,000 Congolese refugees in 2007," Mwesiga said. "Zambia currently hosts about 60,967 Congolese refugees. A total of 43,854 are in camps – more than 21,000 in Mwange and 19,000 in Kala – 2,113 in urban areas and 15,000 spontaneously settled outside the camps."

Mwesiga said refugees had to make their own decisions on whether to return to DRC, but UNHCR believes most will repatriate because of the improved security in their homeland. The country last year held democratic elections after years of bloody conflicts. The minister of Zambia's Northern Province, Lameck Chibombamilimo, called on Congolese refugees to return home and join in rebuilding their country.

About 300 Congolese refugees sheltering in Mozambique have also requested UNHCR assistance to return home and are expected to depart over the next two months. Thirteen Congolese refugees returned from Malawi earlier in the week.

The start of the Congolese repatriation follows the successful completion of a four-year voluntary repatriation to Angola, mainly from Zambia and DRC. The programme officially ended in December, but the last of the nearly 410,000 Angolan returnees were flown home in March. Of those, nearly 139,000 refugees returned with the assistance of UNHCR – including 71,000 from Zambia.

"UNHCR will work strenuously with the government, the International Organization for Migration and implementing partners to ensure that there are steady, expeditious and regular repatriation convoys to Congo in accordance with set international standards," Mwesiga said.

The voluntary repatriation programme to DRC is to take place in phases. The initial convoys will take refugees to areas that meet conditions necessary for organised return: they can be reached by road, landmines have been cleared, and basic services such as schools, health clinics and potable water are available.

In areas of DRC not yet suitable for repatriation, UNHCR is working with the government and other partners to prepare them for returns in the coming months.

"I know life back home will be tough but I have to start afresh," said 33-year-old Mambo Sanog, who fled fighting in DRC eight years ago and was returning alone after the death of her husband while in exile. Like all the initial batch of returnees, she had fled from the Kalemie area.

Returnees will spend the first days back in the DRC in a reception centre where they will receive mine awareness training, HIV/AIDS information and any necessary medical assistance.

Before leaving for their home areas, refugees receive food rations, blankets, soap, kitchen items, buckets and a construction kit to assist in rebuilding homes. Later in the year, they will receive seeds and farming tools in their home communities to help them become self-sufficient.

In addition to the Congolese refugees, Zambia hosts about 40,000 Angolans who did not repatriate and nearly 17,000 refugees of other nationalities.

"I wish to underline that over the years, UNHCR continued to receive support, cooperation and excellent relations with the government of Zambia and its people," Mwesiga said. "In the true spirit of African generosity, Zambia kept the asylum door open for persons who genuinely needed protection."

By Kelvin Shimo
in Mwange Refugee Camp, Zambia

Congo ’s Peace: Miracle or Mirage?"

Jason K. Stearns in Current History

On March 22 this year, the worst fighting that Kinshasa has ever seen broke out between government forces and supporters of the opposition. Hundreds of people lay dead in the streets and opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba announced his departure into exile. Yet some diplomats in the capital played down the violence as a hiccup in the peace
process. “We think,” one of them told me, “these are the death throes of the old war, not the beginning of a new one.”

Many in the international community feel the same way: too much has been accomplished in the more than four years since the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement in Pretoria , South Africa , for war to break out again. Indeed, the Democratic R epublic of Congo, once divided among half a dozen warring fa ctions, is now united. A national army has been created. The eight foreign nations at one time involved in the conflict have withdrawn their forces.

Most importantly, in 2006, presidential, national,
and provincial assembly elections took place in the first multiparty polls since 1965. The logic of guns, so the saying goes in Kinshasa , has been replaced by the logic of ballots. The incumbent Joseph Kabila (who had assumed the presidency after the assassination of his fa ther, Laurent Kabila, in 2001) won the 2006 presidential race, and his coalition now dominates parliament and most of the provincial assemblies. There have been other successes: the country has a new, improved constitution; Congo ’s administration and army have been largely unified; security in parts of the country has improved dramatically.

The peace process, however, has been only partially successful. The
elections did eviscerate some rebel groups, but, as the recent fighting demonstrates, new fa ult lines have emerged. Many reforms have been cosmetic: the Congolese state is unified but remains deeply corrupt and abusive. The administration provides almost no social services to the population. And the integrated army is the largest human rights abuser in the country, terrorizing the people it is supposed to protect.

Herein lies the paradox of the transition’s success: in order to avoid alie nating anyone and to keep the shaky political process going, a blind eye has been turned to high levels of corruption and abuse. Impunity has been to some extent the glue of the peace process. This fa ct could undermine the country’s fragile stability.

Peace on Kabila’s terms

The war in Congo has been one of the bloodiest of modern times, leaving an estimated 4 million
dead, largely from disease and hunger. The conflict dates back to 1996, when a coalition of regional powers, including R wanda , Uganda , Angola , and Eritrea , backed an invasion by a rebel group led by Laurent Kabila. They toppled the dying dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, installing Kabila as head of state in May 1997. Fighting resumed in 1998 when Kabila asked his R wandan patrons to leave the country. The R wandans reinvaded, creating a proxy rebel group in the east. Five years of conflict drew in eight countries and spawned a dozen different Congolese armed groups.

The 2002 peace deal succeeded where its many predecessors had fa iled, offering each signatory something better than the status quo. The timing had much to do with this. After years of fighting, R wanda , Uganda , and Zimbabwe were withdrawing their troops from the country, making a military victory for the remaining belligerents almost impossible. For the Congolese R ally for Democracy ( R CD) and the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), R wanda and Uganda ’s respective proxy forces, the deal provided a lifeline and lucrative positions in the transition. The agreement also elevated the smaller, auxiliary parties—political opposition groups, civil society, and three small rebel movements—from minor players to highranking positions. Finally, by offering Joseph Kabila the presidency and command of the transition, it presented him with peace on his terms and a good
chance of winning the elections.

On the fa ce of it, the deal provided relatively equal terms to the principal belligerents. Kabila had to share power with four vice presidents, and all positions in the executive branch, legislature, and security services were divided among the signatories. However, since Kabila controlled the central state apparatus and most of the country’s revenue—in particular from the mining areas of Katanga and the Kasais—many aspects of the agreement amounted not so much to power-sharing as to an integration of the other parties into Kabila’s administration.

While the army command, for example, was given to the R CD, the powerful maison militaire—the head of state’s cabinet of military advisers— controlled army funds and decision making during the first part of the transition. The 10,000-strong presidential guard was an added asset for Kabila, since it fell under his direct control. Similarly, the political opposition took control of the ministry of mines, but businessmen still had to get presidential approval for major deals. Positions in other institutions— such as the central bank; the supreme court; the two largest stateowned mining companies, MIBA and Gecamines; and the intelligence
service—were not shared among the signatories, despite promises in the peace deal. Kabila simply refused.

This, of course, did not go down well with Kabila’s rivals. The R CD withdrew from the transition process in August 2004; the MLC threatened to do the same in January 2005. However, in both cases, with the international community’s help, Kabila was able to call their bluff. R eal retreat would have forced them into the isolation of their rebel strongholds where, without the military backing of their former patrons, their future would have been questionable. They would also have foregone Kinshasa ’s opulence: each
vice president was allocated $250,000 dollars per month for himself and his staff. Both the MLC and the R CD had 7 ministers and 118 parliamentarians each, making $4,000 and $1,500 per month respectively (several times more than judges’ or doctors’ salaries). Some of the directors of state companies, most of whose jobs were finally shared out by 2005, made as much as $20,000 a month. As a dissident R CD member lamented: “They couldn’t get their hand out of the sugar bowl.”

The weakness of the political parties also favored Kabila. The belligerents had been motivated by self-interest, not by ideology; once in the transition, each leader tried to fend for himself. Indeed, five MLC ministers defected to Kabila’s camp, as did Olivier Kamitatu, the party’s secretary general. Three R CD ministers left their party. This political advantage helped Kabila during the election campaign. He controlled state radio and television; in violation of electoral law, they broadcast mostly Kabila campaign advertisements and coverage. He deployed his presidential guard to the country’s main airports, where they harassed rival candidates as they arrived or departed. R iot police in
Kinshasa prevented large demonstrations from taking place; given the anti-Kabila sentiment in the capital, protests would have been favorable to the president’s rivals. In perhaps the most heavy-handed incident, authorities arrested the private security guard of presidential hopeful Oscar Kashala in May 2006 for an alleged coup plot that was never substantiated.

On August 20, 2006, the day the results of the first round of the presidential election were announced, events offered a glimpse of what might have happened had the transition not worked out in Kabila’s favor. Kabila fa iled to obtain a clear majority, sending him into a runoff with Bemba, head of the MLC and one of the vice presidents. While the exact chain of events that day is not completely clear, Kabila’s presidential guard launched a frontal attack on Bemba’s residences in Kinshasa with tanks and hundreds of troops.

The international community, which was spending more than $2 billion a year on the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo and aid to the country, did not want to ruffle any feathers—in particular not those of Kabila, the head of state to whom ambassadors were accredited. The International Committee for Supporting the Transition, a group of donors and countries in the region that backed
the peace process, had up to that point avoided discussing the threat posed by the presidential guard. When Kabila’s guard did become a problem in August 2006, the committee denounced the violence but refrained from pointing fingers. The bias shown toward Kabila in the transition agreement was problematic in that it assumed he would win the election. In hushed conversations, diplomats wondered what would happen if the incumbent were to lose the runoff. But Kabila did not lose, and the polls themselves were relatively free and fa ir. The president won by a wide margin, garnering 2.5 million votes more than his rival.

Regional shifts

One of the most important achievements of the peace process has been a realignment of relations in the region. The two main rebel movements, the R CD and the MLC, were created by R wanda and Uganda , respectively, and relied heavily on their patrons for military survival. During the 2002 peace talks in the South African luxury resort Sun City , both countries came under increasing pressure from donors that supplied more than half of their budgets. Criticism increased after successive UN investigations revealed high-level involvement by R wanda and Uganda
in the looting of timber and minerals from eastern Congo . Perhaps the most damning indictment of their presence in Congo came when the two countries clashed in Kisangani in 1999 and 2000. The fighting over diamonds in a town more than 300 miles from their borders rendered absurd their claim that their intrusion in Congo was strictly for self-defense.

In 2002, the United States abstained for the first time in a vote by the International Monetary Fund on renewing loans for R wanda . Shortly thereafter, under direct pressure from South African President Thabo Mbeki, Kabila and R wandan President Paul Kagame signed an
agreement for R wandan troops to leave eastern Congo . Kabila was supposed to demobilize R wandan rebels, now regrouped as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of R wanda, whom he had funded and supported during the war.

Under pressure from donors, and less threatened by a weakened rebel resistance, R wanda slowly shifted its foreign policy from military confrontation to one of diplomacy and cooperation. High R wandan and Congolese officials held discreet talks. Meanwhile, R wanda ’s relations with Uganda thawed considerably. Even its relations with the former Hutu rebels who had come to power in Burundi in 2005 became cordial.

The logic expressed by R wanda ’s leaders was clear, if somewhat quixotic: they want R wanda to become the service hub of the region, the “Singapore of Africa,” an ambitious aspiration for a desperately poor, landlocked country. As part of this effort, Kagame has courted investors, including the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Wal- Mart. He has also recognized the need to clean up appearances—a R wanda open for business cannot be seen as stoking conflict in Congo .

The impact this realignment had on the R CD was evident.
Without R wanda , the rebels lost their military backbone. After the withdrawal of the R wandan Defense Forces in July 2002, the R CD almost collapsed as Mai-Mai militias supported by Kinshasa took large chunks of its territory. After it was forced into the political process, the RCD’s organizational weaknesses also became apparent. R wanda had run the rebels as a proxy movement and had never allowed a strong political organization to emerge, focusing instead on military strength. During the war, R wanda had replaced the RCD’s leader four times in five years. Divisions quickly emerged during the transition as many R CD officials distanced themselves from the hard-line Hutu and Tutsi leadership.

Relations between Kigali and Kinshasa did not improve overnight, and the improvement was endangered by a hefty dose of brinksmanship. At the beginning of the transition, both R wanda and the rebels wanted to keep their options open. According to several rebel sources, high-ranking R CD officers were encouraged to refuse army integration in order to remain as a reserve force. The leader of these dissidents was Brigadier General Laurent Nkunda, a Congolese Tutsi and former intelligence officer in the R wandan army. In May 2004, as UN investigations later confirmed, R wanda was involved in a mutiny by the dissidents that captured the town of Bukavu for several days. When Kabila overreacted by sending thousands of troops, sparking brutal fighting, R wanda briefly reinvaded in November 2004.

Although relations appear to be on the mend today, the brinksmanship is likely to continue. Kagame says he speaks regularly with Kabila on the phone, and both sides now insist that their former rival no longer poses a threat. But Kabila, accused of being a R wandan stooge himself during the election
campaign, is afraid of being seen as pro-Kigali. Kagame was not invited to Kabila’s inauguration ceremony, and many Congolese officers still accuse R wanda of hegemonic ambitions in their country. The UN has evidence that Nkunda is continuing to recruit in R wandan refugee camps, probably with government consent.

Buying peace

times, Congo seems condemned to eternal negotiations. The state does not have a monopoly on violence. Its army is desperately weak. And the 17,000 UN peacekeepers present in the country will not carry out the messy counterinsurgency operations necessary in the east, since they lack the will to sustain the casualties such operations would entail. Left with no choice, the government is forced to bargain with warlords.

It is not surprising, therefore, that, in the words of a human rights worker in Kinshasa, “impunity greased the gears of the transition.” In contrast with peace processes elsewhere, justice and reconciliation have ranked low on the list of priorities in Congo . After some talk of an international tribunal for war crimes, it was left out
of the 2002 accord. A truth and reconciliation commission was created, but its leadership, too, was divided among the former belligerents, who have little interest in exposing crimes committed during the war.

The absence of justice has ended up rewarding criminal behavior. Six militia leaders from the Ituri region were promoted to the rank of general in 2005 and thirty-two others were offered ranks of colonel, including some of the most notorious human rights offenders in the country. Following an international outcry, some of these warlords were
arrested, including Thomas Lubanga, who was the first person to be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague . However, as soon as these leaders were removed, others sprang up to replace them. Even Nkunda, the R CD dissident, is currently engaged in negotiations for positions for himself and dozens of fellow officers.

Government officials tend to blame the impunity problem on a weak army and justice system, but it is also closely linked to members of the political elite. Patronage networks permeate the police and army. During the first two years of the transition, this allowed officers to
embezzle, according to some estimates, over half of the payroll, or $3 million each month. Powerful generals and politicians in Kinshasa shield their protégés in the field from accusations. The civilian population has borne the consequences of this impunity. According to UN human rights reports, the Congolese national army is the worst abuser. UN observers documented 344 murders and 349 rapes carried out by members of the police and army in 2006. Since the UN presence is thinly spread across the country, this is just the tip of the iceberg. In addition, mismanagement of the army has allowed 14,000 to 18,000 militiamen to continue terrorizing the
population in the east. In 2006, half a million people were displaced because of fighting there.

Turning a blind eye

Impunity has also devastated public administration, rendering it incapable of even providing social services. According to a UN estimate, more than $1 billion is embezzle d in the customs sector alone each year. Again, these losses can be
attributed in part to predatory patronage networks that permeate the state to the highest level. In 2004, a parliamentary audit of state companies revealed the complicity of six ministers and Kabila’s chief of staff in embezzlement and graft. The state auditor has compiled evidence of colossal mismanagement that leaves about one-third of the budget improperly accounted for. Despite this evidence, not a single official was tried for corruption during the transition.

Although it is too early to make predictions about how the incoming government will perform, many of the figures in it are fa miliar. Part
of the reason for this is that, in contrast with peace deals in countries such as Liberia , the settlement in Congo has kept power largely in the hands of the former belligerents. The elections only allowed for a limited infusion of new fa ces into the political elite. With the notable exception of Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga, the leader of the Unified Lumumbist Party, most ministers in the new government were in office during the transition. The most important ministries—interior, defense, foreign af fa irs, reconstruction, finance, and planning— are all occupied by former belligerents. More important, the president and his powerful entourage have remained the same. This raises doubts about the extent to which the government will be willing or able to crack down on the corruption and abuses that
they sanctioned and were at times complicit in during the past three years.

The international community, which funds over half of the country’s budget, has refrained from criticizing Congolese leaders too harshly. In contrast to Liberia , the Balkans, and East Timor, where serious efforts were made to exclude human rights abusers from security forces through a vetting process, in Congo there has been little talk of accountability. Good governance has also been shelved since Security Council members refused to mandate the UN mission to form a donors group to crack down on corruption. Some donors saw impunity as a necessary evil, needed to keep the transition together. As one diplomat
explained: “If we start bringing people to justice, where do we stop? Some of the worst abusers are at the top.”

The elections appear to have accentuated donor frailty. During the transition, donors pressured the interim government through the International Committee for Supporting the Transition. They seem more reluctant to do so today with a new, sovereign government. None of the embassies denounced the massacre of 100 civilians in the fa r western province of Bas Congo in January 2007. And, despite the condemnation of the fighting in Kinshasa , the
French development minister arrived in the capital shortly after it broke out to sign an aid package worth $300 million with Kabila.

Another reason for donors’ reticence has to do with economic interests. Congo is enormously rich in copper, tin, diamonds, and gold. With the end of the hostilities, the country is opening up to business again. Two of the world’s largest mining companies, BHP Billiton and AngloAshanti, have bought large concessions and begun operations. us-based Phelps Dodge has acquired one of the world’s largest
copper concessions, Tenke Fungurume. Embassies in Kinshasa have been involved in helping to negotiate deals for companies based in their countries. In the absence of strong domestic lobbies for Congo , this has discouraged donors from speaking out too boldly about abuses.

The fa llout of elections

If the transition was a
mixed bag of successes and fa ilures, where does it leave us now? Congo in 2006 held its first multiparty elections in 40 years. Kabila’s coalition, the Alliance for the Presidential Majority, emerged victorious. Besides winning the presidential race, his coalition won around two-thirds of the seats in parliament, allowing Prime Minister Gizenga to form an Alliance government. The coalition replicated its victory in the elections of senators and governors by provincial assemblies—although allegedly with the help of hefty bribes—winning 10 of the 11 governorships and a majority in the upper house of the national legislature.

Yet the elections, for all their success, have created new divisions and risks. Whereas, during the war, the east was the center of conflict, the west is now also becoming a source of concern. In coming years, there is a good chance of antigovernment unrest bubbling up in the capital and other western towns. Discontent with Kabila was evident in the elections, which revealed a divided country. Kabila won over 80 percent of the vote in the east, while Bemba won by similar margins in five western provinces. Anti- Kabila sentiment runs high in these provinces, since his government administered Bas Congo and Kinshasa for six years without successfully addressing poverty and social woes there. Unemployment is close to 80 percent, and many fa milies eat only once a day. These frustrations are accentuated by ethnic bias—Kabila and his close advisers are from the Swahili- speaking east. Kabila himself is perceived as a foreigner, since he grew up in Tanzania and speaks stilted French and poor Lingala, the language of the west.

Another fa ctor stirring up urban unrest in the
west is the political marginalization of the opposition, which is largely based in the west and the center. Although Bemba won 42 percent of the popular vote, his opposition coalition, the Union for the Nation, is too weak in the national assembly to challenge the ruling Alliance . Bemba’s coalition has a majority in four provincial assemblies, but many of its members were bought out during gubernatorial elections, limiting his control to one provincial government. The sidelining of the opposition could push its supporters into the streets, provoking unruly protests and riots in western cities.

A first sign of this took place in Bas
Congo on January 31, 2007, when opposition supporters demonstrated against corruption in the gubernatorial elections. The spiritual leader of a local religious sect, Bundu dia Kongo, had been a candidate on the losing opposition ticket. A melee broke out between his supporters and the police, and several people on each side were killed. Feeling under siege, the governor brought in the army. In the ensuing bloodshed, policemen and soldiers killed more than a hundred civilians.

The Kinshasa fighting in March 2007 was different. This time the government’s opposition was armed; Bemba had a guard
of 400 to 500 soldiers in the capital. Both sides had indicated they would be willing to negotiate a solution that would guarantee Bemba’s safety while downsizing his militia. Hardliners in both camps won out and forced a confrontation, plunging the capital into brutal fighting. According to one human rights group, 330 people were killed; other estimates go as high as 500. While the security situation is now stable, the government seems less and less tolerant of dissent. Dozens of opposition members have been rounded up in Kinshasa under dubious charges of espionage and treason, and several television stations belonging to the opposition have been shut down.

The opposition, however, may lack the unity and strength to galvanize the population. Bemba will go into exile, and there is no clear leader to replace him. The opposition is full of former followers of the late dictator Mobutu, and none of them have Bemba’s stature. The lack of lucrative positions to pass around will also weaken his coalition; some allied parties already have protested the MLC’s hoarding of the few senatorial and governor positions the opposition can claim.

A crushing weakness

After the elections, the defining feature of the Congolese state remains its weakness. This ailment, the result of decades of misrule, affects public administration, the security services, courts, the parliament, and political parties. While most donors perceive governance to be a technical problem, patronage is deeply political. Weakness has become a strategy of rule, as elites undermine institutional checks and balances in
order to continue to profit from procurement contracts, mining deals, and customs fraud. In the meantime, the government provides almost no social services— health care and education are mostly paid for by their users, churches, and nongovernment organizations. Infrastructure rehabilitation is carried out almost exclusively by donors. Of the state’s own revenues, the bulk of what is not embezzled is spent on salaries.

The weakness of the state contrasts with its omnipresence. There are about half a million civil servants in the country and another 200,000 policemen and soldiers. Few of them make a living wage—the official monthly salary of a soldier is $22
a month, while a doctor makes less than $100—forcing them to look for other ways to make money. In a 2005 World Bank survey, when asked what they would do to the state if it were a person, many answered: “Kill him.” This is the Congolese paradox: a state that is perceived as crushingly brutal, yet is deeply weak.

This weakness is in many ways the biggest obstacle to peace in the country. It allows small militias, which should constitute a law-and-order problem, to press the government for negotiations, only for other commanders to spring up later with new demands. It turns the security forces and public administration
into predators, causing rampant abuse. And it depletes the budget of valuable resources needed to rebuild the country.

While many sub-Saharan states are fragile and corrupt, Congo ’s situation is particularly bad. There are 100,000 demobilized soldiers in the country, many of whom are about to finish a year-long donor program that provided them with meager earnings. There are still thousands of militiamen in the east, operating as warlords in their fiefdoms, as well as an enormous presidential guard. The ranks of the opposition are packed with former rebels and Mobutists who, deprived of lucrative positions in the state, could use civil unrest to bring the government to its knees.

The international community played a crucial role in making elections happen. But the donors’ track record in peacebuilding is not nearly as good as in peacemaking: they lose focus quickly, and the new government is eager to make a show of its sovereignty. In addition, with costly peacekeeping operations moving into gear in Sudan , Lebanon , and Somalia , the temptation to declare victory and go home will be great.

There are no silver bullets for Congo ’s recovery. It is clear that the country will not be able to rise out of the trap of
poverty, corruption, and war unless the Congolese leadership itself wants to. In order for this to happen, the government needs to be held accountable for its actions by the parliament, the courts, and the media. In short, democratic institutions need to work.

The international community needs to help in this process. A first step will be coming to an understanding with the new government on terms for the huge international investment there. The billion-dollar question will be: How do you implement reforms that go against entrenched interests of the ruling elite? After the scandals and fa ilures of the first
two post-independence republics, Congo ’s Third R epublic has begun with many questions and few answers.

Jason K. Stearns, based in Kenya, is a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. From 2002 to 2004 he served with the UN mission in the Democratic R epublic of Congo .