Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to authorize the deployment of 2,875 military personnel and 300 police to reinforce MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The resolution is certainly welcome – and long overdue. The seriously overstretched mission has been struggling to protect civilians and maintain stability in light of a renewed offensive by Tutsi rebels in eastern DRC that began over two weeks ago. But translating the authorization into change on the ground and achieving long-term stability in the region will require a focused and sustained engagement by the international community.
In a piece in Slate magazine last week, Michael J. Kavanagh outlines how our past failure to muster such an effort has led to the current crisis, and offers a convincing case for real action:
"Over the years, many world leaders have made the trip to Rwanda to stand before the gravesites of genocide victims and apologize for their inaction in 1994. But if the worth of an apology is measured not in words but in actions, most of these apologies have been rubbish. True repentance for Rwanda has always meant ending the Congolese conflict – especially in the Kivus.
So maybe we should dust off one of the best apologies for Rwanda ever rendered and repurpose it for Congo, so that world leaders can get the talking out of the way and start acting. Here’s President Bill Clinton in Kigali, circa 1998:
‘It may seem strange to you here, especially the many of you who lost members of your family, but all over the world there were people sitting in offices, day after day after day, who did not fully appreciate the depth and speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror.
There are hundreds of thousands of people in North Kivu right now who are starving, hiding in the forest, and living in ditches in unimaginable terror that they might be killed."
Read the entire article here.
-Nina McMurry, Congo Education Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org