More than awareness – this is about real people, real lives. The women of Congo love as we do. They fall in love. Out of love. Share bonds of sisterhood. Their sons have a sense of fraternity. They know joy. They know pride. They bear children, just as we do. They are our brothers and sisters, we are theirs. Even with those universal truths, shared values – the world looks away from the horror – as the women of Congo bear unimaginable burdens.
Fear. Torture. Torment. Extreme stress. Auto-cannibalism. The total deprivation of their individual freedoms. The truths we hold to be self-evident are disappearing, as Rape and unbridled evil ravage the country. I will not look away. I will stand with them.
Shannon notes: Currently, there is no coherent U.S. policy on Congo, despite the fact that the United States spends about a billion dollars a year on U.N. peacekeeping and development, humanitarian, and security assistance in Congo. A special envoy to the Great Lakes Region would be tasked with developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy for the entire region, including countries such as Uganda and Rwanda, who have been deeply involved with the conflict. An envoy would also ensure that aid is conditional and includes robust support for demobilization and reintegration programs for armed groups in Congo.
The Congolese Government has continually failed to protect its own citizens from mass atrocity; many former warlords are found within the government, judicial system, police, and military. This has led to a breakdown of the rule of law and created a culture of impunity. An envoy would help intensify efforts to protect civilians and support efforts to hold perpetrators accountable. How? By assisting the Congolese Government in creating security and judicial reform programs with clear, measurable milestones.
The envoy would also have the opportunity to work with the Congolese Government to implement free, fair, and credible elections this November.
In today’s Politico, Ben Affleck and Cindy McCain team up to discuss how they set aside domestic partisan differences to unite for the people of Congo and advocate for stronger foreign policy involvement and engagement.
Republicans and Democrats need to find a way to provide further support for the national election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in November. This is critical. Yet even with national elections only eight months away and the recent attacks in Kinshasa, the United States is not focused on Congo.
We have the capacity to respond to these outrages in eastern Congo. We can step up our diplomatic activities. We can pay more attention to an under-reported story. If nothing else, we can express the outrage such terrible acts demand.
What we cannot afford to do is remain silent.