Civilians in eastern Congo, particularly women and girls, are targets of conscience-shocking brutality and sexual violence.
Civilians in eastern Congo, particularly women and girls, are targets of conscience-shocking brutality and sexual violence. Every day, they face a harrowing array of threats from armed militias, the military, and even the police who are supposed to protect them. Understanding the reasons why life has become so dangerous for women in eastern Congo is an essential first step in helping to end the violence and create a more hopeful future.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The world’s deadliest war and most pronounced use of rape as a weapon continue to rage in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Enough Project’s latest report on eastern Congo, by Co-founder John Prendergast and Congo-based analyst Noel Atama, argues that this multi-layered and immensely complex conflict can end only when the international community abandons its piecemeal approach to conflict management and adopts a new approach that focuses on five basic tasks.
These tasks are: protecting civilians; implementing an effective counterinsurgency strategy against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR; ending the trade in conflict minerals; promoting regional peace and economic cooperation; and promoting accountability.
“A revamped approach requires a careful combination of all the tools available to policymakers, from aggressive multilateral diplomacy and conditioned foreign assistance to targeted sanctions and, in rare cases, carefully planned military action,” says Atama. However, the report further argues that generating the political will to leverage these tools effectively also requires action from activists and concerned citizens.
“Congo’s stain on our collective conscience is deep, but so too is the connection between our daily lives and those of Congolese people fighting to break the cycle of conflict and misery,” says Prendergast. “Policymakers must fully acknowledge the role that the Congolese government and its neighbors—particularly Rwanda and Uganda—play in fueling violence and profiteering from Congo’s state weakness and chronic conflict.”
Prendergast concludes, “Citizen pressure on policymakers and the corporations that benefit from the trade in conflict minerals—including American and European cell phone, laptop, and jewelry manufacturers—is a critical element of a worldwide effort to end the crisis in eastern Congo once and for all.”
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on crises in Sudan, Chad, eastern Congo, northern Uganda, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, contact Eileen White Read, 202.741.6376; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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For 13 years, the people of eastern Congo have been ensnared in a tangled web of armed groups—from foreign rebels to the Congo’s own army—who prey on Congolese civilians and, with collaboration from governments and multinational corporations, strip the country of its immense natural wealth. This conflict can only end when the international community abandons the piecemeal approach it has adopted to deal with this multi-layered and immensely complex conflict and takes a holistic approach to peacemaking.