29 October, 2008

The DRC

Fierce fighting has erupted in the DRC over the last few days sending thousands fleeing from their homes. Families have been displaced as fighting between rebel groups and the UN has escalated. Yesterday afternoon the UN commander resigned after only a month in the position, stating there was not a clear vision for the MONUC (the UN operation in country) and no clear government in country to work with.


17,000 people stormed the UN compound saying the UN had not done enough to protect them from the rebels. Now the rebels are moving towards Goma (the capital in the region).


Part of the reason for the move is control of resources; the DRC is one of the most mineral rich countries in Africa. The other is power. And in the midst of it all, Joseph Kony (LRA – Northern Uganda) is making raids into the country kidnapping children in the south. Women continue to be brutally and horrifically raped (though some justice is being brought as the culture of silence surrounding the acts is starting to be chipped away at).


Over 5.5 million people have been killed in this conflict and countless more displaced and denied access to food, water, education, medical care, and protection against violence force.


I believe that Africa cannot become a stable continent until the DRC is managed. It touches the most countries of any African nation and is currently the hideout for numerous rebel groups (some causing trouble, others using it to rest and regroup or avoid arrest). However, forces outside the country hold key interest in keeping it chaotic. Outside firms hold the titles to many of the DRC’s mines and natural resources (one example, though China is far from the only guilty party) and if the DRC stabilizes one of the first things they will do is renegotiate control of their mines and use the wealth to benefit the Congolese people (what a thought!). Some of these organizations (and countries, and rebel leaders) supply guns and food to the rebels – keeping them going.


Needless to say the situation is unimaginable and very, very complicated. I don’t know how it can be resolved. No one seems prone to get involved, and I’m not sure adding one more military group would help (especially because the US doesn’t know the terrain, how the rebel forces work, etc.). Peace talks have gone nowhere. A peace deal was signed in Goma in January. A lot of people naively assumed that meant the end – and took the rebels’ words of “peace” at face value, ignoring their continued violence and attacks further out. I am afraid we are on the cusp of another Rwanda in the DRC. I could see mass killings as the different rebel forces vie for power. Aid agencies pulled out this week and I am just waiting for the UN to withdraw forces (especially now that they are being attacked directly) or switch tones to a purely peace keeping operation. Either way – those are not good signs.


So, please pray. I think the best thing the US could do is resolve to is stand by the UN with whatever they need (money, troops, supplies, peace keepers, negotiators, etc.) and let someone else manage the situation. But, please pray for peace and protection for the innocent, for resolution, for God to touch this land.


I could keep going (as many of you know this is one country I love deeply) but, I just wanted to ask you to pray.


Thanks.

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© Amanda Lunday