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.

Security Update 6-19-2011

19 Jun

I really wish all the news I had from this part of the world wasn’t depressing, but unfortunately that’s the way things seem to be going at the moment.

I had a talk with an OCHA official recently about the increased violence against civilians we’ve been seeing since the beginning of the year. This particular OCHA official saw it as being directly tied to the braçage and reorganization operations that have drained crucial areas of South Kivu of FARDC troops. The OCHA official pointed out that in the area of Kilembwe, there has been a significant increase in reported human rights abuses committed by the FDLR since the FARDC units stationed there went into braçage.

According to OCHA and to Jason Stearns over at Congo Siasa, the reintegration of groups such as the FRF and PARECO is not going so smoothly anyway, with some rebel leaders and soldiers deserting the process to go back to acting outside of state authority.

On June 9, Arche d’Alliance monitors reported that elements of Mai Mai Yakutumba raped around 10 women near Kazimia. You may recall that the FARDC unit stationed in Kazimia pulled out a little less than a month ago; when they were passing through Sebele on their way to Kananda, one of the FARDC soldiers shot and wounded SOS FED reintegration officer M’Munga Selemane. So, with zero FARDC presence in Kazimia, human rights violations committed by the FDLR and Mai Mai are increasing. MSF-Holland is expected to try and reach Kazimia next Wednesday to treat the victims of this latest attack.

You will recall an incident previously reported in my blog from May 10 in the village of Matale, where 5 women were raped by unidentified armed men. According to OCHA, the aggressors remain unidentified, and no action has been taken by MONUSCO or the Congolese state.

Thus, the continuing Catch-22 of the conflict in eastern Congo: the FARDC commits human rights abuses against the civilian population when it is present, and when it is not the Mai Mai and FDLR pick right up, with perhaps further intensity. The real test will be whether the state armed groups can be reformed to the point where they stop their depredations of the Congolese population (particularly women) and perform their job of maintaining peace and security.


Posted Jun 19th, 2011

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