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Kenya Reports

Report #90
February 22, 2009

Statement on the Eastern Congo

Here is the “Statement on the situation in the Eastern Congo” sent out by the Quaker Peace Network--Central Africa. The Quaker Peace Network-Africa (QPN-Africa) is an association of Quaker peace activists throughout the continent that meets about every two years. QPN is broken up into four regional meetings--Central, East, Southern, and West Africa. This Statement was composed at the Central Africa regional meeting held last month in Bujumbura, Burundi. Please circulate this wherever you can.

Peace,
Dave

David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya 254 (0)726 590 783
1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/621-7262


________________________________________


DECLARATION BY CENTRAL AFRICAN QUAKERS REGARDING THE CRITICAL SITUATION IN THE EAST OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)
Bujumbura, Burundi 22 January 2009

We, members of Quaker Peace Network-Central Africa, gathered for a conference in Bujumbura, Burundi from January 19-23, 2009, are deeply concerned by the current situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). After exchanging information with colleagues in the region, we were devastated by their accounts of the conditions currently facing the population of eastern DRC:
- The war continues to rage
- Massacres of innocent populations, especially women and children, are committed day by day
- Rapes of young girls, mothers, and old women are commonplace
- The population continues to pour into Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and flee the country. Deaths pile up in the IDP camps (5-6 deaths a day in Bulengo)
- Hunger, malnutrition, and lack of shelter affect all
- Villages are burned in their entirety
- Kidnapping and forced enrollment of young, especially children. Torture, including castration, is inflicted on those who refuse to join armed groups

Considering that an agreement signed on January 16 between the Congolese and Rwandan governments to pursue the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the Interahamwe (armed groups, some of whose members are accused of perpetrating the 1994 genocide in Rwanda) will surely exacerbate the situation and cause more deaths and displacement, there is a major risk of activating conflicts in the countries of the sub region.
Despite this terrifying and alarming situation, the Quakers of the region, especially those in the eastern province of North Kivu, have not ceased providing emotional and material assistance to the victims. An able team of Quakers are undertaking a series of initiatives in Goma, North Kivu:
- Establishing support groups for survivors of rape
- Distributing clothes, food, and soap
- Holding dialogues through Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) and Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) workshops

Yet despite the laudable intervention of Quakers in the region, the situation remains far from manageable. Deaths continue to pile up, numbers of displaced grow at an unbelievable rate, such that their needs become even more overwhelming.

Thus, we implore the Quakers of the world to join us without delay in providing immediate relief and:
- In making pleas to the highest possible places, including the United States government, European Union, and the UN, to put active diplomatic pressure on parties to the conflict to stop the despicable crimes and unspeakable violence in eastern DRC, and insist that the UN Mission in DRC, MONUC, takes a more neutral stance in its operations.
- In supporting the Quaker Values in Goma Fund by sending a contribution to the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI), using the instructions at the bottom of the page. This money will be used to help meet the needs of the displaced and others, including food, clothing, blankets, and tents to offer temporary shelter to displaced persons.
- In supporting our trauma healing and reconciliation efforts that contribute to the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Together, we can offer hope and belief in a better future to all the affected populations in the eastern DRC. We thank you in advance for your consideration of our declaration, and assure you of our highest consideration.

For questions regarding this declaration, please contact Adrien Niyongabo, Director, HROC Burundi (adniyo@hotmail.com). For questions regarding Quaker work in the DRC, please contact Pastor Levy Munyemana, Change Agent Peace Program Director in Goma (leviyfcgoma@yahoo.fr), or Anna Crumley-Effinger (anna.crumleyeffinger@gmail.com), who works on Quaker advocacy related to the DRC.

To contribute to the “Quaker Values in Goma” Fund online, please go to the African Great Lakes Initiative website (www.aglionline.org) and click on “Donate”; please put “Quaker Values in Goma” in the “Designate my donation” field.

To contribute by check in the United States please make the check out to “Friends Peace Teams/AGLI”, write “Quaker Values in Goma” in the memo line, and mail to Friends Peace Teams, 1001 Park Ave, St. Louis, MO 63104.

To contribute in the United Kingdom, please make the check out to “African Great Lakes Initiative” with “Quaker Values in Goma” in the memo line, and send to Laura Shipler Chico, 33 Caithness Rd, London, W140JA, England.

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