African Union must lead to end the crisis in eastern DR Congo
Oxfam: As hundreds of thousands of people still live in fear of attacks, African leaders at the AU Summit must “seize the moment” and make peace a priority
Leaders arriving at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa must seize the window of opportunity to take giant steps towards peace in eastern DR Congo, international agency Oxfam said today. It called on the AU to urgently step up its response to the enormous human suffering in the region.
Since the M23 armed group withdrew from Goma after capturing the city in November last year, global attention on the conflict has decreased, yet people are still fleeing attacks on their villages and daily looting and extortion by more than 25 armed groups. In North Kivu alone, some 910,000 people are still displaced with few basic services and little protection from violence.
Desire Assogbavi, the head of Oxfam’s office at the AU, said: “Years of international policies in eastern DR Congo have failed to end people’s suffering, and now is the time for the African Union to step up. The next few days offer a crucial opportunity for our continent’s leaders to put an end to this unacceptable crisis. The lives of hundreds of thousands of African citizens are at stake here.”
People living in terror
A recent Oxfam assessment around the town of Masisi in North Kivu found tens of thousands of people living in terror. Water points and infrastructure have been destroyed and cholera and other diseases are spreading fast as aid agencies are unable to properly respond due to ongoing fighting. There are now more than 60 camps in the area as people flee attacks by armed groups and Oxfam is scaling up its work in Rubaya, where around 40,000 people are now sheltering in a camp with no clean water. 150,000 displaced people are still living in camps around the city of Goma, Oxfam said.
Oxfam said the AU must step up its support and push the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) – made up of 12 African nations – to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
An opportunity for peace
Assogbavi added: “Despite the suffering, there is now a real opportunity for peace and stability and the AU must seize this chance. Our leaders must send a message of hope and peace to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people all across eastern Congo. The lessons of the past must be learnt and the AU must make sure that any agreements are more than just words on paper, and tackle the root causes of a conflict that has blighted Africa for the past 20 years.”
Oxfam said that any agreements must include the voices and opinions of the Congolese people, who have most at stake in resolving the crisis, and address underlying issues that fuel the conflict - such as lack of governance, the urgent need to reform the Congolese army which fails to protect its citizens, and the need for constructive regional relations. Potentially positive steps included in the 2006 Pact on Security, Stability and Development have not been implemented and must be reinvigorated, Oxfam said.
DRC is the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa and the impact of the crisis has consequences for the stability of the rest of the continent, Oxfam said. More than 50,000 Congolese refugees are still sheltering in camps in Uganda and Rwanda and in the past few weeks thousands more have crossed the border.
Notes to Editors
Video: Louis Belanger, Oxfam Humanitarian Media Officer, reports from Mugunga camp, Democratic Republic of Congo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4zrb54ypx8
For more information, please contact:
Alun McDonald, Media and Communications Officer, Horn East & Central Africa
Mobile: +254 73666 6663
Office: +254 202820203,
Twitter: @alunmcdonald @OxfamEAfrica
Louis Belanger, Oxfam Humanitarian Media Officer
In DRC: +243 81 445 4334
You may also like
Voice of Congo: Testimonies of people who have fled the conflict
Commodities of War: Communities speak out on the true cost of conflict in eastern DRC: Our latest report on civilian protection in the DRC, Nov 2012
"For me, but without me, is against me": Why efforts to stabilize the Democratic Republic of Congo are not working: Oxfam DRC Lobbying Brief, July 2012 (pdf 957kb)
Thx for speaking up for women: @MarsGlobal,#Mondelez & @Nestle have now moved from words 2 action http://t.co/laFtaWajFI #BehindTheBrands1 day 10 hours ago
UN agency and Slow Food group partner to boost livelihoods of small farmers http://t.co/l0YMT9yyk8 @SlowFoodHQ1 day 17 hours ago
RT @oxfamgbpress: Oxfam very relieved that Cyclone #Mahasen did not cause damage to vulnerable communities in Myanmar http://t.co/t2VwONPjs01 day 17 hours ago
RT @annamac33: The #ArmsTreaty can create a safer future for millions. Urge the US to sign! http://t.co/HRlNC8BcO31 day 18 hours ago
#FF Oxfam Global Ambassadors @KristinDavis @GaelGarciaB @driverminnie @liviafirth @baabamaal @HelenLMirren @BoseOfficial1 day 18 hours ago
#FF Oxfam Global Ambassadors @AnnieLennox @djimonhounsou @angeliquekidjo @firthcom @coldplay @RahulBose1 http://t.co/rXOrgldjlt1 day 18 hours ago
Thanks for speaking up for women! @MarsGlobal #Mondelez & @Nestle have moved from words to action http://t.co/pMvtbhesPh #BehindTheBrands1 day 20 hours ago
#FF the Oxfams! @IntermonOxfam @OxfamIndia @OxfamJapan @oxfamnovib @OxfamQuebec @Oxfam_mcm @OxfamItalia @oxfam_sol @oxfamfrance1 day 21 hours ago
#FF the Oxfams! @OxfamIreland @oxfamcanada @OxfamAustralia @Oxfam_DE @OxfamAmerica @oxfamgb @oxfamnz @oxfamhongkong @oxfammexico1 day 21 hours ago
Dismal levels of investment in agriculture a primary reason 1 in 8 people in the world are hungry http://t.co/orbRUxuVQo #govspendwatch2 days 12 hours ago
'A Jungle of Humanity - and Disorder', an interactive feature from @nytimes http://t.co/DxmATtGICV #SyriaCrisis #Zaatari2 days 14 hours ago
RT @benphillips76 How to Start Development’s Gutenberg Revolution http://t.co/DbieZs9UBZ #govspendwatch2 days 14 hours ago
Social protection, #genderequality & #climatechange crucial to tackling inequality http://t.co/mKqSIBcceM via @guardian #govspendwatch2 days 16 hours ago
RT @louis_belanger Starting to see Syrian refugees all over #Beirut On promenade, on Hamra, outside grocery stores, in parking lots #Syria2 days 17 hours ago
Are governments meeting their #MDG spending targets? Read the blog http://t.co/3bF1lhH8AX #govspendwatch #MDGs2 days 17 hours ago