WALTER JAMES

Walter James (SOS Femme en Danger – SOSFED): Walter graduated in 2006 from the University of Minnesota. Following college, he worked on international development in Haiti and Senegal, and studied human rights and international development in Senegal, Costa Rica, and Morocco. Walter first visited Eastern Congo as a 2009 Peace Fellow for The Advocacy Project, where he documented the work of civil society organizations such as SOS Femmes en Danger, Arche d’Alliance, and Tunza Mazingira. The following year, he graduated from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy with a Master’s degree in Public Policy.



Corrections, updates, commentary

30 Apr

There are a few corrections to my coverage of the Kikoze mass rape incident:

-I originally reported the date of the ex-FRF FARDC attack and mass rape in Kikoze as March 31st. This date should actually be March 26th, 2011.

-I also reported that 9 survivors came to Uvira to receive treatment. The total number of confirmed cases in the Kikoze mass rape is 9; however, only 8 women came to Uvira to receive treatment and report the incident.

-The battalion commander for the FARDC unit in question is located in Muranvia, which I originally spelled Murambia, but I’ve seen it spelled both ways. The same goes for Kikoze; it can also be spelled Kikozi.

And now, more updates:

-The FARDC commander in Muranvia has confirmed that he sent his troops to the Kikoze to hunt Mai Mai elements in the area, but still denies that his soldiers raped anyone.

-The UN mission to Kikoze and Muranvia noted the high number of child soldiers among the ex-FRF FARDC troops.

-OCHA and CTLVS-Uvira are coordinating meetings between local organizations to come up with ways to provide more services in the Haut Plateau area, in particular in the area around Bijombo (which includes the village of Kikoze). There are several NGOs, notably AGAPE, AJDC (Associations des Jeunes pour le Développement du Congo), and Arche d’Alliance, that have created a synergy to bring psychosocial services and human rights monitoring to the Bijombo zone of the Haut Plateau.

And now, a bit of commentary. In my opinion, the follow-up surrounding the Kikoze incident is moving a bit slowly for a number of reasons:

-The Kikoze area is very remote, and therefore investigating the matter requires quite a bit more time and resource investment on the part of the UN.

-The media has not picked up on this incident, unlike the New Years Day incident in Fizi Town. This probably has a lot to do with the numbers, 50+ confirmed in Fizi Town versus 9 cases confirmed in Kikoze so far.

-In the incident in Fizi Town, there were MONUSCO troops stationed nearby during the attack and mass rape. Perhaps the UN moved faster on providing the impetus to arrest Col. Kibibi and his men because the incident happened where they were supposed to be able to protect civilians.

-The reality is that the MONUSCO mission in Uvira and Fizi is still very constrained by the lack of resources, a difficult operating environment, and the fact that these incidents are being committed by armed combatants on both sides. MONUSCO still has very limited presence in Fizi Territory and in the Haut Plateau of both Uvira and Fizi. Maybe there is also some lack of initiative from higher up; Margot Wallstrom, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence, has yet to visit Fizi Territory, despite the fact that the region is sliding backwards in terms of sexual violence committed by armed groups. I don’t think it is going out on a limb to say that the Congolese government is also showing little initiative in terms of cutting down the impunity of its own troops.

Posted By WALTER JAMES

Posted Apr 30th, 2011

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