Friday, October 06, 2006

Congo Action Unity Statement

A historic opportunity is at hand for the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).

The Congolese people have demonstrated their overwhelming commitment to the peaceful rebuilding of their country by participating in their first democratic election in more than 40 years.

Nonetheless, Congo continues to suffer from what the United Nations calls "the world’s deadliest emergency" and faces massive obstacles to its reconstruction:

Ø More than 4 million Congolese have died during the past 8 years as a result of the war. Although "Africa's first World War" officially ended in 2003, 1,200 persons continue to die each day; almost half of these are children under the age of five. These deaths due to disease and malnutrition are easily preventable.

Ø Rebel groups, militias, and oftentimes the underpaid and poorly trained Congolese armed forces continue to systematically kill, torture, rape, enslave, loot, and harass populations. Sexual violence in Congo remains a daily threat for women and girls living in war affected areas. Nationwide, the justice and security instruments remain largely dysfunctional and corrupt.

Ø Vast quantities of mineral wealth illegally leave the Congo each year. The UN has accused all nations involved in the conflict of using the war as a cover for this looting. Interconnected networks of armed groups, local elites, foreign corporations and governments, and Congolese government and military officials are controlling and pilfering diamonds, gold, cobalt, tin, and copper among others. We benefit daily from the use of Congo’s looted riches such as coltan, a vital component of our computers, cellphones, and Playstations.

Ø The international response has remained grossly out of proportion to the magnitude of this crisis.

The new government will have to establish and maintain peace throughout all its provinces. They must restore basic services, help 1.5 million persons return safely home and resume their livelihoods, set up efficient and trusted security and judiciary institutions, and organize economic usage of natural resources for the benefit of all. Apart from providing essential assistance for the elections, international response has until now proven insufficient. When international initiatives provide security and assistance, death rates plummet.

As Humanitarian and Human Rights groups, Faith Based Organizations, Students, Congolese Diaspora and other Grassroots movements, we are coming together to advocate for Congo and urge increased local and international response, beginning with our own governments.


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