A Call for Canadian Support for Peace Efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Tasneem Jamal

On November 4, 2008, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives issued an appeal to the Canadian Government to work for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On November 12, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) issued a report, Promoting an Inclusive Peace: A Call to Strengthen Canada’s Peace-Making Capacity, which asks the question, “Is Canada Turning Its Back on the DRC?”

From the KAIROS appeal:

One month ago, renewed violence drove 250,000 people from their homes, adding to the million-and-a-half persons already displaced in the province, almost one-third of its total population. The fate of civilians in zones touched by combat is dramatic: internally-displaced persons’ (IDP) camps have been used as bases of operations for rebels, more than 40 health centres and 80 humanitarian convoys and facilities have been attacked. The BBC has also reported that IDP camps are now being burned to the ground.

KAIROS calls on Canada to play a more active and positive role in helping secure peace and protecting human rights in the DRC and offers guidance on tasks that Canada, along with the international community, must tackle.

In its report, the CCIC urges Canada to develop a strategy to support sexual violence programs in the DRC and to review its funding for the Joint Initiative Against Sexual Violence to ensure funds contribute to local women’s groups’ capacity building. According to Surendrini Wijeyaratne, the author of the CCIC report, “for Canada to lose interest in the DRC now, while violent conflict is still a fact of life in eastern DRC would not only leave hundreds of thousands of civilians at risk, but would also undermine Canada’s long history of support to the DRC.”

Project Ploughshares is a member of CCIC, a coalition of Canadian voluntary sector organizations working globally to achieve sustainable human development.

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives is a church-based social justice movement.

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