Women in Goma marched in the streets to celebrate the defeat of the M23.
For many months, I have heard tragic reports of rising conflict from our partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Eastern DRC has been engulfed by conflict since 1994, when Hutu militias fled across the border from Rwanda—where they had just slaughtered Tutsis and moderate Hutus in one of the most organized genocides of the 20th century.
But in the last week, we have started seeing signs of hope. The notorious M23 rebels have finally surrendered, after years of unrelenting attacks against both civilians and the DRC military.
Here in DRC, people have been celebrating this important milestone. Women have dressed in white to show their support to the Congolese army and government in Goma and Kinshasa. There is a festive mood in the air.
However, grassroots advocates for peace are also calling for caution. People are waiting to see what happens next and how the pending peace negotiations between the government and the M23 unfold. Still, this is a huge step toward breaking the cycle of recurrent violence in the Eastern DRC. We hope the United Nations and the Congolese army succeed in fighting the remaining rebel groups. There will be challenges ahead, particularly when human rights groups seek justice for war crimes—but this is a huge first step.
Read on for reflections on this news from AJWS partners in Goma and Bukavu, DRC, who will continue working with their communities to recover from this conflict and demand their basic human rights.
Last week, conflict ramped up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the Congolese rebel group M23 and the Congolese Armed Forces escalated fighting. At least 800,000 people have fled their homes in the DRC since the M23 launched its rebellion in April 2012 and laid siege to the city of Goma last December. In response, the United Nations has launched an intervention brigade with the strongest mandate in UN peacekeeping history.
However, civilians in North Kivu have begun protesting the intervention brigade, arguing that the UN has not done enough to protect civilians. This week, forces from DRC dropped bombs in Rwanda, creating a complex and controversial political situation. Rwanda has allegedly supported the M23 rebels and is now threatening retaliation. According to an AJWS consultant, the current situation is very unpredictable.
This post comes to Global Voices from Nelly Godelive Mbangu, who lives in Goma.
Protesters gather to voice their opposition against President Abdoulaye Wade who is running for another term as president.
This week, Senegal’s presidential campaign opens amidst stones, tear gas, grenades, student protests and calls for popular resistance by a coalition of opposition parties and civil society organizations.
Senegal’s current president, Abdoulaye Wade, is seeking re-election despite his term limit and dwindling popularity. Though some Senegalese support Wade, there are escalating riots over his bid to stay in power. Last week, four people including a student died from clashes between demonstrators and the police. The president is down-playing the protests, but the mounting tension is notable in a country known for its political stability. Senegal seems to be heading into the ugly lane of pre-electoral violence. Read More
World AIDS Day comes at a critical moment in the history of the AIDS crisis. Reversing this epidemic depends on how our policymakers use three powerful forces: science, political will and money.
Why Science? The annual UNAIDS World AIDS day Report for 2011 shows that in 2010 alone, more than 700,000 AIDS deaths were averted and more than 2.5 million deaths have been averted since the introduction of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) in 1995.
Investments in fighting HIV/AIDS save lives. In the past year, new research revealed that treatment can also be prevention and that ARVs can also reduce the likelihood of one partner passing HIV to another by 96%. Read More
Elections continue to be an expected trigger of violence on the African continent. They led to serious disputes and deadly crimes in countries such as Kenya and recently in Cote d’Ivoire. Liberia (where AJWS will be hosting a Study Tour in March 2012—join us!), is preparing to hold its second ever presidential and legislative elections on October 11th, and the stakes are very high. The elections will be a crucial test of whether democracy is firmly entrenched in this country that fought its way out of a deadly 14-year civil war. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia’s current president and Africa’s first female head of state, is reported as the election front-runner, ahead of 15 other presidential candidates. Read More