Rallying in front of the White House on November 23, I joined over 100 activists in expressing our concern for Congolese civilians, as armed groups turn their homes into a battlefield. Three messages continue to stand out in my mind: Protect the People! Stop Violence against Women! and No Child Soldiers!
Amnesty International USA organized this event in response to the humanitarian and human rights emergency in the Democratic Republic of Congo, calling on the United States to follow through with their support of a new UN Security Council Resolution by delivering the needed troops and equipment. The resolution passed unanimously, showing all nations understand how crucial the success of the UN peacekeeping mission is to bringing the killings, rape and abduction of children to a halt. Now, these countries must follow through with their commitment by providing troops and equipment.
Days before the resolution, 44 Congolese NGOs wrote a letter requesting the UN Security Council and international leaders immediately supply troop reinforcements. The message that was consistent throughout their letter was that words of concern are not enough. They exclaimed, “Diplomacy always takes time, and we understand this, but unfortunately we do not have time. The population of North Kivu is at risk now; with each day that passes, more and more people die”.
The desperation is clear on the faces captured in the photos taken by reporters in the crisis region. If the troops are not on the ground and properly equipped, the UN’s resolution will be meaningless.