Below and attached is a recently circulated global call for real action by world leaders to stop the violence and war-rapes that have occurred this week in Goma after renewed fighting reached the city's steps in the past days. We have minimally updated this petition, and the names to date are below. Please consider adding your voice today.
Quick summary: The situation in Goma, eastern DRC, itself today remains tense in the aftermath of a week of intensive fighting among rebel, government and militia groups in the region of North Kivu, in eastern Congo. Humanitarian agencies have declared the present situation in North Kivu 'catastrophic' with tens of thousands of refugees who were forced to flee into the bush still missing, following the destruction of UNHCR camps for internally displaced persons (IDP) days ago. Tens of thousands of Congolese people are on the move, many ill, wounded, lacking food, clean water or any shelter during the rainy season. Aid agencies have been unable to reach many of the fleeing refugees due to the fighting and insecurity. The health and lives of many children are especially at risk, say aid groups. A growing number of Congolese fleeing the violence have slipped across the borders of neighboring countries, including Rwanda and Uganda, where aid groups are rushing to assist them. In Uganda, rebel forces linked to the Lord's Resistance Army have attacked arriving Congolese refugees, say media reports.
Status of fighting: Last week, Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda overwhelmed government forces loyal to Congolese President Joseph Kabila as he advanced upon Goma, uprooting citizens in the path of the fighting. Other armed groups and militias are involved in the Congo conflict, including former Rwandan Hutu Interhamwe who perpetrated the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and the Congolese Mai-Mai ethnic group. While many portay the Congo war as rooted in an ethnic conflict between Hutu and Tutsi – a legacy of the Rwanda genocide, experts say the true cause and ongoing source of war is a fight over Congo's mineral riches, including diamonds, tin and coltan, a raw material. Eighty percent of coltan used in computers and cell phones globally comes from the Congo, making it a very valuable global resource to the West. Armed groups are fighting to maintain control of the mines in eastern Congo which fuel their purchase of weapons, say human rights groups. The spotlight on the role of coltan in the Congo war has led to increased calls for action against some 100 multinational companies who buy Congo's mineral riches, and a divestment movement to stop imports of Congo coltan.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Nkunda's troops were camped just outside the city of Goma, long a safe-haven for refugees from the long Congolese civil war. Nkunda, who is Tutsi, declared a unilateral cease-fire and demanded to meet with Congolese President Joseph Kabila. He insists that Kabila's government take immediate action to disband and rout Hutu Interhamwe who perpetrated the 1994 Rwanda genocide and continue to attack Tutsi's in the DRC. If the talks fail, Nkunda has newly threatened to move through Goma, advancing toward the capital Kinshasa.
High level negotiators from Africa, the UN and US continue to meet feverishly to bring together the the key actors in the crisis, including Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, and leaders from Uganda.
On the ground in Goma, Heal Africa is coping with war-wounded and rape survivors. Frontline groups like MSF are overwhelmed trying to to assist many ill, hungry and displaced residents of the city and arriving displaced persons. Blogs and updates from the Heal Africa team can be found on the web at: http://healafrica.org/cms.
Steps to take: While our prayers are with the Congolese, we ask that you consider two steps: 1) sign the petition below and 2) send support to Heal Africa to purchase medicines and supplies that are urgently needed. Donations to Heal Africa can be made on-line at http://healafrica.org/cms/participate/donations/ or by mailing a check to Heal Africa USA, P.O. Box 147, Monroe, WA 98272.
Other groups who are responding to the Goma crisis and need our support include: MSF-Belgium, Norwegian Church AID, IMC, Save the Children, Panzi hospital in Bukavu, IRC.
Petition: Please send your Name (either individual or organization is fine), Affiliation, Country to be added to this petition to Anne-Christine D'Adesky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This petition is being shared with key actors and will formally be sent to leaders in the DRC, Africa, UN and US when we have critical mass of signatures. Please urge others to add their voice today.
We also urge you to take other actions. I have attached a list of Other Actions on the Congo.
PLEASE EMAIL YOUR REPLY TO ANNE-CHRISTINE AT: email@example.com
Anne-christine d'Adesky, Petition Coordinator
Global Call for Action
DEMAND END TO WAR-RAPES IN GOMA DRC!
November 4, 2008 || Goma, Congo --
The 10-year civil war of the Democratic Republic of Congo battle has taken a turn for the worse this week, as fighting between several warring groups rages outside the city of Goma, long a safe haven for refugees of the war. The war has killed approximately 5.4 million people since 1998, and tens of thousands of women and many children have been systematically raped by warring groups. Today, as the war closes in on Goma, fresh atrocities are occurring, including rapes of women and vulnerable children by drunk soldiers. We must act to better protect residents from further violence and denounce sexual violence used as a 'weapon' of war.
We, the undersigned, urgently urge Congolese, UN and other key parties in and outside the DRC to act urgently to PROTECT, PREVENT and RESPOND to violence and brutal rapes of women and children in the embattled area surrounding the city of Goma, and to protect civilians of North Kivu, where there one million internally displaced people (IDP). With tens of thousands of refugees flooding into the area surrounding Goma, the situation there is a tinderbox, and hunger is driving the violence. The increased pitting of people against each other along ethnic lines represents a very dangerous reality. Since August, when the fighting began to escalate, mass rapes have increased – 40 a day by some estimates. We must stop the violence happening today– and tomorrow-- through our global action and voices.
Reports from Heal Africa in Goma, one of the few humanitarian NGOs still operating in Goma which helps rape survivors, stress the urgent need for UN troops to intervene to protect civilians from violence – and this includes sexual violence. Protection is also needed to help guard humanitarian and local hospitals who operate as impartial, independent professionals helping the displaced and wounded, including survivors of sexual violence. With hunger and looting on the rise, they are being targeted.
Recently a broad coalition of Congolese women and survivors groups in eastern Congo publicly denounced rapes in the Congo and issued a global call for solidarity action, and for their voices to be heard. We have heard their voices and we stand in solidarity with them, demanding world leaders, and belligerents in the DRC conflict act immediately to stop the violence, including rapes in Congo:
These actions include:
·Demonstrate via concrete action and public statements their recent global commitment to UN Security Council Resolution 1820 on women, peace and security, that demands the "immediate and complete cessation by all parties to armed conflict of all acts of sexual violence against civilians" and affirming that "rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide."
·Deploy increased UN Peacekeepers (MONUC) to protect civilians from attack – including gang rapes of women by drunk soldiers reported in Goma. MONUC must intervene to stop rapes!
Right now, all peacekeeping bodies are making what global leaders and relief workers brand an inadequate response to violence. The MONUC troops must be actively deployed to protect civilians. This action by MONUC and the international community would directly support SR Resolution 1820 and internnational laws that view these war rapes as'sexual war crimes.'
·Deploy MONUC peacekeepers to protect displaced civilians hoping to return to their homes.
·Provide US and UN representatives, along with Congo MONUC and State Dept African Affairs representatives, with the mandate, authority and resources to take clear actions to help broker a durable peace in North Kivu, and to demand that key warring actors support Sec Res 1820 by stopping war-rapes and atrocities against civilians, and instead, actively protecting civilians from violence and rapes.
·Create a Sexual Violence Rapid Response Unit within MONUC and create small teams at the different IDP centers that include local women to coordinate MONUC's and the humanitarian community's response to rapes, and assist raped survivors to safely access emergency medical and counseling services from HEAL Africa and frontline NGOs equipped to assist.
·Provide immediate increase of World Food Program donations to Goma and North Kivu. The lack of food is causing fierce competition for available resources, and threatens the relationship of communities being forced together in close proximity. Hunger is driving violence.
·Local Responses needed:
·Implement a coordinated local emergency plan to respond to the current increase of rape that includes:
o Units protected by MONUC forces who can reach raped women amidst fighting
o a central mobile telephone number for reporting rapes,
o linking relief workers at the few intl NGOs active around Goma (MSF Belgium, IMC, Norwegian Church AID, etc.) and at IDP centers in North Kivu to key contacts and staff who have mobile and fixed medical teams to assist rape survivors.
o Similar steps are needed in South Kivu, where Panzi Hospital coordinates responses and care for survivors of sexual violence in Bukavu. Panzi has also been targeted by violence, and needs further support.
o Support and equip relief teams to provide armed PROTECTION and FUEL, WATER and FOOD to internees in IDP camps in North Kivu, and to provide protection against sexual violence in the camps by recruiting women and men chosen by camp leaders to receive training in post- rape counseling and medical referral for rape survivors.
o Recruit and train local men and women from existing NGOs in Goma who have programs and trained counselors to work in the IDP camps, and refer survivors to these local NGOs for supportive services and shelter. Local NGOs are receiving survivors in their homes and villages and need to be directly linked to arriving emergency medical providers and camp managers.
CONTACT: For further information or media requests, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org tel:360-863-3380
SIGNATURES TO GLOBAL PETITION TO STOP WAR-RAPES IN GOMA & DRC:
- Judy Anderson, Executive Director, HEAL Africa, Goma, DRC
- Eve Ensler, V-Day, NYC, US & global
- Dr. Ruku Oyaku Bhileni, Vice-President and Co-founder, Congolose Physicians for Peace (affiliate of IPPNW-Nobel Peace Prize 1985), DRC.
- Ann Njogu, Executive Director, Center for Rights Education and Awareness ( CREAW) Kenya.
- Anne-christine d'Adesky, Journalist , Talk to the Future media, US – Africa
- Laurie Gagne, Director of the Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice, St. Michael's College, Colchester, Vermont , US
- Sonke Gender Justice, South Africa
- Amanda Lugg, African Services Committee, NYC, US
- Fanta Toure, Program Officer, Africa. American Jewish World Service
- Marion Natukunda, Programmes Manager-Mama's Club Kampala,Uganda
- Lucy Quacinella, Attorney, Multiforum Advocacy Solutions, San Francisco, CA, US
- Treatment Action Group (TAG), NY, US
- Martha Tholanah, Network of Zimbabwean Positive Women (NZPW+
- Rosemary Hack, AIDSLink, South Africa
- Lynn Kersey, M.A., M.P.H., Executive Director, Maternal and Child Health Access, Los Angeles, CA, US
- Sylvie Jacquat, Communication Assistant, World YWCA, Geneva, Switzerland
- Theo Smart, Journalist, South Africa
- Krista Dong, MD. Director of iTEACH,. Edendale Hospital. KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
- Desirée Zwanck, Consultant, EED for HEAL Africa, Goma
- Paula Akugizibwe, AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, South Africa
- Melinda Kerr, Melbourne, Australia
- Samantha Cole-Surjan, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia,
- Jane Skarratt, Melbourne, Australia
- Tom Rielly Community Director, TED Conferences LLC
- Janet Feldman, ActALIVE and KAIPPG International, RI, USA-Kenya-Global
- Lindy McLean Emrich, Greenbrae, California
- Christophe Martet, Journalist, YAGG, France
- Harper McConnell, US Director of Development, HEAL Africa, Seattle, WA
- Gennae Falconer, Program Assoc., Greater MPLS Council of Churches, MPLS, MN
- Helen MacGregor, Moscow State University, Russia,
- Nicholas Rutter, Moscow State University, Russia
- Frankie Ey, Venus Advertising, US
- Mark Brosamer, First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA US
- Leah Stephenson Canadian Treatment Action Council, Canada
- Louise Binder, Canadian Treatment Action Council
- Deborah von Zinkernagel RN, SM,MS, VP for Policy, Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation, US
- Tiffany Tripson, Texas, USA
- Bob Thornbloom, Chicago, Congo Tech Assistance
- Patricia Siplon, Professor, Saint Michael's College, Colchester, VT – USA
- Vermont Global Health Coalition, Burlington, VT USA
- Randy Bergen, MD, US