With New York Times columnist Nick Kristof in eastern Congo right now, the war torn country has (finally) been a fixture of the paper’s international news coverage for the past week. Yesterday, Alan Doss, head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, weighed in too, responding to one of Kristof’s columns about Congo’s unprecedented mortality rates.
“[P]olicy makers and profiteers – near and far – must do more to remove the underpinnings of the war itself,” he wrote. In particular, Doss calls for the international community to “ratchet up” U.N. sanctions in place in Congo since 2003. The latest U.N. group of experts report found that the sanctions have failed to hamper the flow of profits from Congo’s mines to the coffers of the FDLR, one of the most notorious militias in the region.
Playing off of Kristof’s classification of Congo as the world capital of killing, Doss tried a different tack, calling Congo “the world capital of possibilities.” The country would prosper if its own people were free from the violence that has plagued its eastern region for 12 years and benefited from its abundance of natural resources.
After watching Doss strongly defend the U.N.’s backing of Kimia II – a military operation against the FDLR widely viewed as disastrous because of the bloody backlash against civilians it spurred – it’s heartening to see the U.N. chief publicly advocate for tackling the conflict minerals trade. It’s an approach we at Enough and many others believe has a better shot of ending violence in Congo, by dismantling the system fueling the fighting. Let’s hope that Doss’ resolute letter to the Times is mirrored by some similarly determined efforts on the ground.
Amy Doherty contributed to this post.
Photo: A miner pans for gold in eastern Congo (Grassroots Reconciliation Group/Sasha Lezhnev)