09 November, 2008

Your DRC Weekend Update

Scarlett Lion gives us a shot of the DRC-Sudan border. Things are deteriorating rapidly. 250,000 people have been displaced over the last few days. Men and children are being kidnapped into the LRA. Women are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Women and children and being denied food, water, and safe shelter.

Separated children are at increased risk for conscription into one of the many rebel forces in the area. They are also at an increased risk for trafficking. Children also don't have access to the food and other supplies they need to survive. Young girls are at a high risk of being raped or becoming sex slaves. The LRA (and others) prey on children alone. Many will go missing without ever being reported.

More than half of those who have been forced to flee are children .

Watch this video and look at the number of people involved (around 40 seconds) and hear how the LRA is increasing their numbers.

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The UN is providing clean water to prevent cholera and diarrhea. They are also giving food to kids to fight off malnutrition. But when rebel forces cut off access to IDP camps and those in need outside of Goma, the innocent suffer.

The UN peace keepers bear a hard burden as they struggle to determine where to go.

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The Congolese people are going to Southern Sudan to flee from the LRA.

And what is at the heart of this? RESOURCES. What I type this on is contaminated, what I'd call you on is contaminated. The things that keeps me sane on the metro is contaminated. We are all part of this. And, as this video explains (along with Peter's commentary) outside forces are keeping the conflict going as the fight to control RESOURCES.

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So, Who Will Rescue the Congo? I don't know. It's amazing to me that while the BBC and others paint
Nkunda for what he is - an instigator and a terrorist, the US news praise his efforts and buys his bull. One thing is certain, as long as the US backs Rwanda, which backs Nkunda, there will be no peace because any peace agreement MUST include removing (and prosecuting if you ask me) Nkunda. Ceasefires will not work because ceasefires do not address control of resources. And outside rebel groups (and those backed by outside companies) will never agree to release control of the coltan mines, and the DRC (rightfully) will not agree to a) partition their country, b) allow China (and others) to keep control of their mines.

So what do we do?

- pray. pray hard for peace and intervention and wisdom.

- move. we write our US reps to adopt the "International Violence Against Women Act" and "Conflict Coltan and Cassiterate Act."

- then we tell them to change their policy against Rwanda. We say it's unacceptable to support terrorism. If we got 100,000+ people to write/call their reps every WEEK starting Jan. 1 (or sooner if they are staying in office) until congress tells Pres. Obama this in unacceptable - we would get somewhere.

- Phone Companies. there has to become a kimberly process for cell phones. Congress should give the phone companies six months to figure out how to ensure only fair trade (forced labor/conflict/rebel free) coltan was going into phones/iPods/computers. After that time an independent (multi-national (out of the UN??)) source would be established to monitor that (there are people who could tell us how...). Any cell phone carrier found to carry phones with uncertified coltan in them would pay a hefty fine that would go into a fund to help rebuild Eastern Congo. They will keep paying the fine until they comply. The indp. source must be truly independent, small enough to ensure efficiency, large enough to ensure accountability and transparency, and MUST include members of the DRC government. If the cell phone companies don't want to do that we boycott. We don't actually need a new phone every two years (we don't.) So we don't buy new phones, new iPods or Zunes until they institute this process.

We are part of the problem, are we willing to take responsibility and be part of the solution?

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