IRC, Partners, Call for End to Violence in Congo
Eight months after a peace agreement between the government and rebel groups raised hopes for an end to the long-running war in Congo, violence continues to plague eastern Congo, said the newly-founded Congo Advocacy Coalition. The coalition, which includes the International Rescue Committee and 64 aid agencies and human rights groups active in Congo, said in a July 29 statement that the international community must put pressure on armed groups and the government to follow through on pledges to protect the civilian population.
The coalition said that more than 200 civilians have been killed and at least 150,000 people have been displaced since the Goma peace agreement was signed on January 23, 2008.
“The agreement provided a glimpse of hope that the violence would stop and that hundreds of thousands of displaced people would be able to return to their homes,” said Danielle de Knocke van der Meulen, the IRC’s provincial director in North Kivu.
“Now people realize this was an illusion. The suffering continues and every day more people are displaced. Unless the parties to the peace agreement get serious about its implementation I don’t see how the situation can improve.”
The newly displaced add to the one million people displaced in earlier waves of violence in North and South Kivu. The number of people displaced from their homes in the most affected territories of Rutshuru and Masisi in North Kivu is the highest ever recorded.
de Knocke van der Meulen said that women and girls have been especially victimized by the violence. More than 2,200 cases of rape were recorded in June 2008 in North Kivu province alone.
The IRC’s emergency response team has been in North Kivu since 2007. The team has set up health, water, sanitation and education programs and programs for survivors of sexual violence. In addition, the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM)—a UNICEF-funded initiative that allows IRC teams in Congo to respond within 72 hours of an emergency—has provided communities with water, sanitation, distribution of essential items, and hygiene and education activities.
To learn more and help, visit our special section on Congo's forgotten crisis