Greetings from Kampala. I’m taking a two-week holiday in Uganda, but I’m keeping in contact with the SOS FED staff back in Uvira and I might post a few more blogs. In the meanwhile, here’s a mini-update on SOS FED activities and the security situation in Uvira/Fizi Territory:
-On May 9 & 10, SOS FED staff members participated in a very successful training conducted by Arche d’Alliance in Baraka. The training was an introduction to human rights, monitoring/reporting on violations of human rights, how the Congolese penal code addresses sexual violence, and some basics of the Congolese civil code. Our staff will be able to impart the knowledge from their training to the beneficiaries, who can return to their communities as effective human rights advocates. In addition, this training will help improve the data-collection skills of our staff and integrate them into the larger human rights monitoring network in Fizi Territory.
- SOS FED staff at human rights training in Baraka. From l-r: Bawili Ningejua, Mariamu Bashishibe, Lubunga Wilonja, Luanja Eca Ricardo, M’Munga Selemani, Sangho Laliya, Chamulungo Nabisha, and Mimmy El Vital
-Beginning in mid-May, two FARDC regiments were re-deployed in Uvira and Fizi Territory. In January/February, a lot of the Amani Leo brigade units had been called in to bases in Lubarika (Uvira) and Kananda (Fizi) for re-organization, re-equipment, and training. The goal of this massive maneuver was to improve the efficiency of the FARDC troops and give them training on respecting human rights and obeying the law. This training process (known as braçage), was performed by the Congolese government with assistance from governments in Europe and the US government. However, when the FARDC troops withdrew from their positions earlier this year, FDLR and Mai Mai elements moved in to control the areas left vacant by the FARDC. Now, the FARDC will be fighting to re-take their positions, so MONUSCO officials have warned me about a possible stark increase in violence throughout portions of Uvira and Fizi Territories. Personally, I am waiting to be convinced that the braçage was effective in improving the behavior of FARDC troops. However, one hopes the re-deployment makes a dent in the FDLR and ultimately reduces the amount of conflict in the region.
-M’Munga Selemani, the SOS FED reintegration officer who was wounded by (now confirmed) FARDC gunfire, is recovering at a hospital in Uvira. Fortunately, his wounds were not life threatening; the bullet grazed him just above his right eye. The women that Mr. Selemani was escorting to Kikonde were unharmed in the incident. Currently, we are working with Arche d’Alliance and MONUSCO Human Rights to see that justice is served.
Stay tuned for more.
Posted By WALTER JAMES
Posted May 23rd, 2011