Sunday, May 3, 2009

New 'Terror And Upheaval'

Congo-Kinshasa: Top UN Humanitarian Official Condemns New 'Terror And Upheaval'
1 May 2009

The top United Nations humanitarian official today condemned a resurgence of violence against civilians in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), amid a serious of offensives against a Rwandan militia group.

"People who have repeatedly been victims of violence in this region are yet again experiencing terror and upheaval," John Holmes, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said.

Attacks and threats against civilians, in South Kivu province committed by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), comes in response to a planned new phase of Congolese army operations against the militia, he said. Those committing violations of humanitarian law will have to answer for their crimes.

An estimated 100,000 people in South Kivu have been displaced by fear of armed groups since the beginning of the year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"In the event of intensified fighting between Government forces and armed groups in the weeks ahead, all armed actors in South Kivu must have as a top priority protection of civilians and their livelihoods," he stressed, adding that they must also guarantee safe access for humanitarian workers.

The FDLR and other Rwandan militias have also been a key factor in the resurgence of violence in North Kivu province, where another 100,000 civilians have been uprooted by fighting in the past two months, in addition to the many hundreds of thousands previously displaced.

The ethnic Hutu rebels, who recently carried out a wave of retaliatory attacks against civilians after being targeted by a joint Congolese and Rwandan military offensive, have been operating in eastern DRC since the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda.

In FDLR-dominated areas of South Kivu, in recent weeks, more than a dozen villages have been pillaged and hundreds of houses set on fire, while in others, FDLR groups are forcing the population to provide them with food, OCHA said.

Rape has also been on the increase in recent weeks - in areas under the control both of the FDLR and of the Congolese army (FARDC). "Women and girls are at the mercy of groups with horrendous records of sexual violence," OCHA said in a news release.

"Those committing violations of humanitarian law will have to answer for their crimes," Mr. Holmes said, urging the Congolese Government to stop and punish abuses committed by its soldiers, and ensure the protection of civilians during these operations.

Meanwhile, Alan Doss, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative for DRC, has welcomed last week's conviction and sentencing of 20 Congolese army officers by a military tribunal.

The tribunal found that the 20 soldiers committed offences ranging from rape and armed robbery to crimes against humanity, according to the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUC), which is led by Mr. Doss.

Human rights experts from the mission monitored the trials, which took place in the north-eastern town of Walikale, to ensure they met international standards, and provided logistical and financial support, MONUC said.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy 65th Birthday Wishes!

Richard, we trust your are enjoying a relatively peaceful day as you and Kathy celebrate this milestone in your life.

It is hard to believe that all but the first 28 years have been spent in Bukavu under much stress and away from friends and family. We miss you and wish we could share that birthday cake and a cup of coffee with you and Kathy. I guess that will have to wait until the day we are united as one family again in His presence.

May He bless you in some special way today and keep you both safe and secure in Him.

Love and prayers,
Barbara and Smitty
Family and Friends

Operation Kimya II has

All morning the helicopters have been buzzing in and out of Bukavu, with lots of activity at the MONUC HQ up the street from us. Operation Kimya II has begun, to liberate the territories of North Kivu from the "negative Rwandan fugitives" control / presence.

The hope is that the majority of those under
their control will happily return to Rwanda after they are separated from the hard core.

Pray for Peace to be restored to the territories
of R D Congo that have been plagued by the pillaging mostly due to the presence of those Rwandan combatants.

In our South Kivu a similar operation is in preparation as those government forces are in place, awaiting orders and UN forces to unite with them. Meanwhile, large numbers are choosing to lay down their arms on a day to day basis.