Democratic Republic of the Congo

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New film investigates Rwanda’s controversial leader | 

The legacy and impact of Paul Kagame on Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of central Africa has come under greater scrutiny in the past few years. The divisive debate pits the supporters who say he has transformed the small nation against opponents who decry the human rights abuses carried out by Kagame’s regime.

Enter the Rwanda Gambit a new documentary that makes the case that the international community has turned a blind eye to Kagame’s crimes. The film is by Andre Vltchek, a journalist and filmmaker based in Nairobi. The film is sure to spark more debate over Kagame.

He poses the idea that international companies are using Rwanda to extract mineral resources from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. Other critics have made such claims, but evidence to substantiate it has always been thin. The trailer and accompanying text make it seem as if this film will try to answer such questions.

Searching for Truth About Rape in DR Congo | 

Victims of sexual violence, Kivu clinic 2010
Victims of sexual violence, Kivu clinic 2010
Flickr, andre thiel

What really happened in a village near Luvungi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in August 2010?

At least 200 fighters from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the Mayi Mayi Sheka looted homes, committed rapes and abducted hundreds.  387 people (300 women, 23 men, 55 girls and 9 boys) were systematically raped over the course of four days by rebels, according to the International Medial Corps (IMC) and the UN.

An article by Laura Heaton, a freelance reporter and consultant for the Enough Project, in Foreign Policy this week says that the figures were exaggerated. She uses the attack as an example of how an extraordinary amount of attention and resources are diverted to the problem of rape in the DRC while issues like displacement garner much less attention and financial support.

She visited the area after the attacks and interviewed a few women about their experiences. In those discussions, Heaton and her colleague felt that they were being lied to by the women.

When the interviews were over and we were out of earshot, my colleague and I stood in confused silence. I had interviewed survivors of rape in eastern Congo before; a psychological element seemed to be missing in these interactions. Before I managed to articulate the uncomfortable feeling that we had just been lied to, my Congolese colleague spit it out: “Those women have been coached.” Continue reading

Mixed Reactions to the DR Congo Peace Deal | 

Credit: Oxfam
Families on the move to escape the current fighting, eastern DRC; Credit

There is a new peace deal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, the outlook is mixed.

11 countries (DRC, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) signed onto the deal at the EU headquarters in Ethiopia.

The Central African coalition agreed to provide support, including 2,500 troops, to stabilize a country that has been beset by conflict for decades.

It’s not stable yet, and many are uncertain if this negotiated deal will accomplish much. Continue reading

SEC Adopts Conflict Mineral Legislation; Activists Express Disappointment | 

The long journey through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Section 1502 in the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act has come to an end. A 3-2 vote adopted the provision that will force mining companies to detail their operations in conflict regions.

For consumers, this means that large electronics companies will be put on the spot to show that they are sourcing their minerals from conflict-free sources. The section has elicited a very strong debate and neither side was very happy with the final decision on Wednesday.

Supporters of the bill say it is a way to reduce the power of armed militias in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If companies are unable to trade in conflict regions the areas will be forces to make changes in order to enjoy the benefits of international mineral trade. The decline in power will provide more safety for the people who have been brutalized for years.

Continue reading