Friday, April 27, 2007

Democratic Republic of the Congo: IDPs and Returnees in the Eastern Provinces

Useful map with details on numbers:

Title - Democratic Republic of the Congo: IDPs and Returnees in the Eastern Provinces (as of March 2007) Source - United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Format - pdf ; 367k Date - 20 Apr 2007 URL Address -

Maintain the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Please find the following op-ed by Oxfam America and the International Crisis Group on the DRC and funding for MONUC appearing in today’s Christian Science Monitor (

Maintain the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The US must keep funding levels for UN troops intact until the Congolese government and security forces grow stronger.

By Raymond C. Offenheiser and Mark L. Schneider

Washington and Boston - In the gold-rich Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), civilians can now do what was once unthinkable: walk down the streets without fearing for their lives. Until recently, the region had been torn apart by anarchy and brutal fighting.

The UN Peacekeeping Mission for the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) played a critical role in bringing a semblance of peace to Ituri, protecting civilians from violence and securing the country for successful democratic elections last November. Despite such progress after years of war, the DRC remains extremely fragile. If the Bush administration pushes for UN peacekeepers to pull out too soon, violence could once again take root.

Four million civilian deaths have been linked to the eight-year conflict in the DRC, costing more lives than any other conflict since World War II. The debate on the decision to extend the UN Mission's mandate, which ends on May 15, has been under way for weeks, but no consensus has been reached on what the postelection peacekeeping mission will look like. An immediate extension through Dec. 31, as requested by the UN secretary-general, should be the minimum time frame.

It is more worrisome that some still want to reduce the number of troops and weaken their ability to keep the peace. Both would be tragic mistakes for a country that already has seen too much tragedy.

This first year following Joseph Kabila's election is crucial for building stability for future generations. However, aftershocks continue to shake the tenuous peace. Just a few weeks ago, fighting broke out in Kinshasa between former vice president and rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba's security forces and the Congolese armed forces. More than 200 were reported killed and many more wounded before the DRC Army restored order. Mr. Bemba, who was elected senator in January, took refuge in the South African Embassy until MONUC secured his departure to Portugal, reportedly for medical care. These recent clashes in the nation's capital demonstrate a fragile peace that needs to be nurtured and strengthened. Now is not the time to hamstring the UN mission.

Former US Ambassador William Swing, who is the secretary-general's special representative to the DRC, has publicly stated that shrinking MONUC will pose an irreversible threat to the country's forward movement. He has also called on the US Congress, which funds about 25 percent of the peacekeeping mission, to ensure that the force is sufficiently funded in the coming year by guaranteeing at least $260 million to sustain its efforts. But the Bush administration has not been listening.

The administration's budget projects a nearly $90 million cut – almost 35 percent – in the US share of the MONUC budget, which it says "assumes a significant reduction in mission size." As Congress looks to fund MONUC in the 2008 foreign operations spending bill, they should listen to what Mr. Swing – and more recently Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon – have said about the urgency of maintaining MONUC's force level. As the DRC government gains experience and its security forces become stronger and more efficient, some reductions will be possible and de­sirable. Until then, Congress must keep current funding levels intact.

The UN mission has in-creased humanitarian access, making possible the first Congolese elections in 40 years, and it now must build on that peace by taking on security sector reform. Rwandan and Ugandan rebels still operate in the DRC, several thousand Congolese militiamen continue to control isolated areas in the east, and the Congolese Army too often abuses the people it is meant to protect. Chiefs in the lakeside villages of Tchomia and Kasenyi recently told Oxfam that if the UN peacekeeping force were to close its base and stop patrols, the people would leave tomorrow because it simply would no longer be safe – at least not yet.

The International Crisis Group in Kinshasa recently reported that militias indeed need to be fully dismantled, but that demobilization alone is not enough to ensure stability. The full political rights of legitimate opposition parties must also be guaranteed for the infant democracy to flourish. The Bush administration should use all available diplomatic levers to assure a strong MONUC mandate that includes civilian protection, conflict prevention at the local and national levels, establishment of an international donors group, and promotion of political dialogue.

There is one constant lesson in post-conflict peacekeeping: Weakening a UN mandate and pulling troops out too soon almost always guarantees a return to war. This is precisely what occurred in Liberia and in East Timor. Despite enormous suffering and vast remaining challenges, the UN has helped create the space to build peace in the DRC. The country can't afford to lose that treasured space – nor can it afford to lose any more lives.

Raymond C. Offenheiser is the president of Oxfam America, a nonprofit international development and relief agency. Mark L. Schneider is the senior vice president of the International Crisis Group, an international conflict prevention organization.

Burundi, Rwanda, RDC renew their cooperation after 14 years

BUJUMBURA, April 17, 2007 (AFP) - Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday relaunched the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), an organisation that has been dormant for 13 years.

Diplomatic heads from the three nations participated in the meeting, which will relaunch an organisation begun in 1976 but inactive because of war and rebellion that has plagued the region.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht was also in Bujumbura for the occassion, representing the former colonial power in the three nations.

"We are going to relaunch the CEPGL. The revival of economic cooperation between Rwanda, the DRC and Burundi is very important for this region from an economic point of view but also from a political one. This cooperation, if well-developed, will ensure lasting piece and stability in this region," the Belgian minister said.

"The CEPGL has been active in the past, but the war that has ravaged the region has brought its activity to almost zero," he said.

The relaunch program includes a budget for the first year of 970,000 dollars, financed primarily by Belgium and the European Union, and the creation of an interim executive secretary.

The organisation will permit the free movement of people and goods within the region, and plans to create a regional bank and an institute for agricultural research.

The Great Lakes Countries were plagued by violence in the 1990s, with the beginning of the ongoing civil war in Burundi in 1993, the Rwandan genocide in 1994, which was followed by rebellions and regional warfare in the DRC.


Copyright (c) 2007 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 04/17/2007 10:57:37

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Videos Show Congolese Need Help Rebuilding After War

Source: Refugees International Newsletter

Refugees International has produced two short videos that show the beauty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the daily activities of local villages, and the challenges the people face as they rebuild. The nation is entering a moment of hope after suffering one of the bloodiest conflicts of the last half century. Four million people have died since 1998 and 1.5 million people remain displaced from their homes today. Still, hundreds of thousands of people are returning home and trying to rebuild their lives. As peace returns and the recently elected government stabilizes the country, these two videos call for more action. "Recovering from War" shows a village in the center of the country that desperately needs support from UN agencies and "Returning Home" calls on the international community to help refugees return home.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Katanga to Host Progress Report Webcast

Katanga to Host Progress Report Webcast

Source: AP Alert - Energy
Date: April 04, 2007


Katanga Mining Limited (TSX: KAT) will host a live webcast and conference call on April 11, 2007 at 9am Eastern Standard Time to provide an update on the progress of its Kamoto Joint Venture in rehabilitating mines and plants near Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The webcast will be at:
Alternatively, to
listen to the conference call, dial 1 800 565 0813 (toll-free in North
or +1 416 695 9706 (outside North America). A presentation will be viewable on the webcast and there will be an opportunity both online and on the conference call to ask questions.

Arthur Ditto, President and Chief Executive Officer will give an overview of recent developments at Katanga and Rick Dye, Senior Vice President, Technical Services will give a detailed review of progress to date at the site.

The webcast (audio and presentation) will be archived at the same location and the presentation available on Katanga's website, (, immediately after the webcast. The conference call will be available for replay for seven days at 1 888 509 0081 or +1 416
5275, pass code 642776.

To learn more about Katanga Mining Limited, please visit our website at

Katanga Mining Limited is becoming significant in global copper mining by rehabilitating mines and plants near Kolwezi in the Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The site is getting ready to ship copper in December 2007. By 2011, the complex will produce 150,000 tonnes of refined copper and 5,000 tonnes of refined cobalt a year and will be among the world's lowest cost producers.

The Company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol KAT.

Contacts: Katanga Mining Limited Arthur H. Ditto President & Chief Executive Officer +44 (0)20 7440 5824 Mobile: +44 (0)7983 447774 Katanga Mining Limited Anu Dhir Vice President, Corporate Development +44 (0)20 7440 5822 Mobile:
(0)7983 438942 Katanga Mining Limited 15 Golden Square London W1F 9JG United Kingdom +44 (0)20 7440 5800 Website: (

Copyright (c) 2007 Market Wire
Distributed by the Associated Press

Copyright (c) 2007 The Associated Press Received By NewsEDGE/LAN:Wed Apr 04 14:54:06 2007

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

World Bank threatens Congo's rainforest

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World Bank plans to increase timber production in Congo threaten the environment and ignore the rights of forest dwellers.
By Jean-Roger Kaseki, March 19, 2007 9:00 AM,

In 2004, more than 100 environment, development, and human rights groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo called on the World Bank to stop plans that would carve up the world's second-largest rainforest into industrial logging concessions.

Photo by Michael K. NicholsInternal World Bank documents obtained by the Rainforest Foundation revealed that the bank intended to create a favourable climate for industrial logging in the Congo, and envisioned a 60-fold increase in the country's timber production.

Plans for the development of the forests would have major repercussions on the rights and livelihoods of millions of Congolese citizens, with serious and irreversible impacts on the forest environment.

Map of the countries of Congo basinCovering around 1.3 million square kilometres, the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo are the largest in the world after Amazonia, and have so far largely been spared extensive destruction. An estimated 35 million people live in and around these forests, including Bantu farmers, and Twa and Mbuti hunter-gatherer Pygmies.

Full story on comment is free

The Congo is the Earth's second largest river by volume and has the world's second largest rainforest (18% of the planet's remaining tropical rainforest). The Congo Basin represents 70% of the African continent's plant cover and makes up a large portion of Africa's biodiversity with over 600 tree species and 10 000 animal species. Six nations - Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon - share the 1.5 million square mile Congo basin.

The Congo is one of the world's most threatened ecosystems. Commercial logging, clearing for subsistence agriculture, and widespread civil strife has devastated forests, displaced forest dwellers, and resulted in the expansion of the "bushmeat" trade. Since the 1980s, Africa has had the highest deforestation rates of any region on the globe.


World Bank Approves Funding for Congo's Capital

World Bank approves funding for Congo's capital

By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON, March 29 (Reuters) - The World Bank board on Thursday approved $180 million to help rebuild the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa, and said it would go ahead with project plans despite recent deadly violence.

Pedro Alba, the bank's country director to Congo, said the fighting between a former rebel faction and government troops in Kinshasa was regrettable, but added that the poor should not have to suffer because of it.

The grant funding for Kinshasa will help restore running water, rehabilitate roadways, help parents pay for primary schooling, and provide bed nets to residents to prevent malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that is Africa's biggest killer.

"These projects have been under preparation since December last year and the approval will allow us to provide assistance to Congo's poor," Alba told a conference call.

"The regrettable clashes in Kinshasa last week should not prevent poor people access to water, roads, bed nets and education, and we urge all parties, including the government, to work together to create a political environment in which poverty reduction and development activities can be carried out," he added.

While the brunt of Congo's civil war was in the east of the country, Kinshasa has experienced occasional flare ups of political unrest. Years of neglect have left it in ruins.

Last year, President Joseph Kabila won the country's first democratic elections in over four decades, following years of corrupt leadership and a 1998-2003 war that killed an estimated 4 million people through conflict, war and disease.

The World Bank grants are part of a new "rapid response" policy that the World Bank -- hoping to offer people proof of a peace dividend -- approved last month to deliver aid more quickly to countries emerging from war and disaster.

World Bank officials acknowledged the unrest could recur in Kinshasa, amid the lingering tensions between Kabila's government and groups loyal to former presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba, who sought refuge in the South African embassy during the violence.

But the officials said they were confident they could implement the rebuilding projects with the help of special agencies and development groups.

They said the World Bank could now proceed with discussions with Congo's government on a more formal lending program, which could be concluded by mid-year.