Here at Enough, we often swap emails with interesting articles and feature stories that we come across in our favorite publications and on our favorite websites. We wanted to share some of these stories with you as part of our effort to keep you up to date on what you need to know in the world of anti-genocide and crimes against humanity work.
The Washington Post’s “Fresh Nightmares in Congo’s Drive Against Rwandans” provides a glimpse into the horrors left in the wake of an ongoing U.N.-backed offensive to weed out the FDLR rebel group from eastern Congo. (The title is rather misleading in its use of “Rwandans,” but the content of the article is very good.) The FDLR, a Hutu rebel group whose leadership is accused of carrying out the 1994 Rwandan genocide, have long terrorized the Kivus region of eastern Congo, but as this article explains, the military operation to dislodge them is fraught with challenges and poor planning, the most egregious of which was its far-from-adequate measures to protect civilians. As new reports come in of retaliatory massacres by the FDLR and atrocities committed by the Congolese army, the human cost of the operation rises and the benefit seems ever more negligible.
Five days after the Somali government pleaded with neighboring countries to send reinforcement – to no avail – the Economist ran this very bleak report about the prospects of an intervention by concerned neighbors. Recent assassinations of key Somali officials and the fragile government’s unabashed plea for support from the international community have emboldened the primary rebel group, al-Shabaab.
The U.N. Security Council will today host an open debate, during which members can voice their grievances on a broad range of topics. In a letter this week, Human Rights Watch urged the Security Council to spend that time reviewing its policy for protecting civilians in armed conflict. HRW also offers up four examples in which the conditions on the ground are particularly dire. It is telling and troubling to see these shortcomings lined up back to back. Hopefully the U.N. will agree, and will dedicate some time to the topic today.
A new report, also from Human Rights Watch, provides extensive documentation of the plight of internally displaced people in eastern Chad who, after years of living in IDP camps, are now attempting to go home. Many have found that their land has been seized. Paramilitary groups continue to operate freely in the region, creating dangerous conditions for populations who have already endured years of hardships in IDP camps. The 47-page report – The Risk of Return: Repatriating the Displaced in the Context of Conflict in Eastern Chad – is worth checking out.
The Independent published an article about the apparent breakdown of the Kimberley Process, the certification system used to monitor and prevent the trade of “blood diamonds.” It is an interesting albeit disheartening description of the concerns about the reliability of the certification, concerns that prompted the lead author of the Kimberley Process to resign from his position as one of the top monitors. He lambasted governments for becoming lax about which sources they certify, warning in particular that Zimbabwe’s gems, though they have been certified, “are blood diamonds, they have blood all over them.” The story is a sobering reminder of the challenges that are inherent in initiatives to promote corporate social responsibility – which is important to keep in mind as we gear up for the long haul in the campaign to end the trade of conflict minerals. The changes certainly won’t come quickly. And despite its deficiencies, the Kimberley Process has blazed a trail that just might make our battle a little easier.
The Enough Team contributed to this post.