No Safe Return for the Displaced People of the Congo

All credit to Action Aid UK. I felt this was a stirring article and wanted to share. 

People in Congo who were displaced by fighting are not returning home despite a ceasefire, ActionAid says.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes in November and sought shelter in camps near the town of Goma after fighting between the Congolese army and rebel soldiers.

ActionAid has supplied people in the camps with food and emergency relief items such as soap, mattresses, blankets, plastic sheeting, water containers, mosquito nets and cooking utensils. 

ActionAid is targeting aid at the most vulnerable people including unaccompanied children and child-headed households, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, female-headed households and survivors of sexual violence.

Maria Ali-Adib, ActionAid’s Emergency Response Program Manager in Congo, said: “We are not seeing large numbers of returnees, in spite of alleged peace. They are still worried for their safety if they go back. The needs of displaced people are still huge, particularly in the areas of protection and education.”

Last week Rwandan troops entered eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for a joint operation with the Congolese against a Rwandan Hutu militia sparking fears of more fighting and further upheaval to the civilian population.
 
Women are particularly vulnerable in the violence in eastern Congo and many are too traumatised or afraid of stigma to seek help.

“Earlier this week I met a 10 year-old-girl who had been raped and then held by soldiers,” Ms Ali-Adib added. “Weeks later she was found wandering around the forest by her sister. They’d thrown her out when they were finished with her and she has barely spoken since.”

ActionAid provides rape survivors with both emotional and practical help and last year helped to set up SAUTI (Sauti ya Mwanamke Mkongomani) – Voices of the Women of Congo – to give women in the region a stronger voice.

photo : ©Jenny Matthews/ActionAid *Not her real name

 

I just want to shed more and more light on the situation that is occurring over there. On my previous post “10 Things You Can Do” there is a list of things that we can call do to help, and a link to contact our federal representatives. Let’s get on it! 

 

JG* 

Want to have the best Valentine’s Day…EVER!?

I have the perfect idea!!! 

Do 1 Thing.org has an initiative focused on helping homeless teens. Please check out the site for more details. I implore you all to go out and give the BEST give of love and benevolence on that day. I know we all tend to get caught up in the superficial meanings behind this and other holidays but I encourage everyone to do better in 2009. If you’re single, this is a great way to spend the holiday. I know it can be a debbie-downer sometimes. 🙂 If you aren’t single, what a great way to spend time with the person you love. You can go drop off items together and spend some time with the teens, or you can host an event for them that night. 

 

The Covenant House is behind the project and on the website you can contact your local entity. In addition to donating a portion of my closet, I’m also going to try to throw a birthday party for one of the babies, or host some type of “night” for the teens that day. I’ll update you guys here on the blog with what I end up doing as well as pictures! 

Here’s a list of ideas

When we help each together, we grow together.

 

JG*

10 Things You Can Do

To help end femicide in the Congo. 

I got this in an email and wanted to share! Original Credit goes to Walter Mosley at The Nation. Please read: 

The peace agreement signed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006 did not end the war. An estimated 400,000 women have been raped in the past ten years in what can only be called an act of femicide–the planned and systemic destruction of women. Women have suffered fistulas from rapes with knives, guns and penises. Women have been forced to eat dead babies. Soldiers who are HIV-positive are sent to villages to rape wives in front of their husbands, girls in front of their fathers. The systematic breakdown of the family is part of a larger plan to loosen the community’s grip on its natural resources–diamonds, gold and especially coltan, used to make laptops and cellphones.

In this first installment, we talked to Eve Ensler, playwright, activist and founder of V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. Ensler’s approach to “Ten Things” is a list for the nation to put pressure on President-elect Obama to focus on Africa without delay.

 

1 Educate yourself about Congo’s history of Belgian colonialism, its connection to the Rwandan genocide, the horrific femicide that is occurring there, which has left hundreds of thousands of women raped and sexually tortured, and the economic war that is fueling the violence. Spread the word. Visitnewsite.vday.org/drcongo/background. Educate others by holding a teach-in for your community. Watch “Beneath Her Pange” and “LUMO.”

2 Help support a burgeoning grassroots women’s movement in the DRC and around the world. Organizations include Heal AfricaHarvard Humanitarian InitiativeInternational Rescue CommitteeRaise Hope for CongoFriends of the Congo and Human Rights Watch. Support Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource, Power to Women and Girls of DRC, a global campaign.

3 Demand a tenfold increase in UN peacekeepers–including women peacekeepers specifically trained in sexual violence–by writing to your elected officials.

4 Demand that women be involved in any future peace talks, by writing to your elected officials.

5 Demand the arrest and prosecution of war criminals involved in sexual violence, child soldiering and other atrocities at the International Criminal Court, by writing to your elected officials.

6 Demand that President-elect Obama’s administration put pressure on the Rwandan and Congolese leadership to come together at the negotiating table and stop supporting Laurent Nkunda and the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), respectively.

7 Pressure the DRC government to make ending sexual violence a priority, by writing to President Joseph Kabila. For a downloadable letter, visitnewsite.vday.org/drcongo/getinvolved. Tell him to train and support many more women police officers who can protect vulnerable women.

8 Help provide resources to raped and violated women. Donate to the City of Joy, a joint project of Panzi Hospital, V-Day and UNICEF, where women can turn their pain into power; or buy a handmade Congolese bag (store-vday.org) to support the economic empowerment of women survivors. To donate, go tosecure.ga4.org/01/drcongo.

9 Write to your local editorial boards and ask them to cover the Congo war. Blog about the Congo war.

10 Attend the Turning Pain to Power Tour, a nationwide tour coming to a city near you.

 

Also, subscribe to my blog for continued information! 

Here are links to contact your Federal Representatives. Please take a minute or two to do at least a few of the things on this list. 

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Senate

 

JG*