Oxfam Calls for Urgent Appointment of Special Envoy and More Peacekeepers for Congo

For Immediate Release

Oxfam International
Contact: 

Rebecca Wynn, in Nairobi on +44 7769 887139

Oxfam Calls for Urgent Appointment of Special Envoy and More Peacekeepers for Congo

NAIROBI - The international
community should immediately appoint a high-level special envoy and
provide additional military support for the UN's peacekeeping force,
MONUC, to stop the violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo,
said international aid agency Oxfam today.

Oxfam appealed to the
international community to bring pressure to ensure an immediate end to
the fighting, ensure the safety of the people of eastern Congo and
create a genuine and lasting peace process.

"We need a major
change in the world's political engagement in the conflict in Congo. In
the last ten years we have had peace agreements and peacekeeping troops
but none have had sufficient, consistent international support.  Nearly
five and a half million people have died and millions of others have
been forced from their homes. The world must stop allowing suffering on
this scale to continue," said Juliette Prodhan, head of Oxfam in Congo.

Oxfam is calling for:

  • The
    UN Secretary General to appoint a high-level envoy to travel
    immediately to the region with the power to bring all those involved to
    the negotiating table, agree a lasting peace agreement and address the
    underlying causes of the conflict.
  • Additional military support
    for MONUC to ensure that it can respond effectively to any targeted
    killing of civilians, mass rape, or systematic looting from any armed
    group.
  • Practical steps to improve the current performance of MONUC in the protection of civilians.

"There
is not a military solution to this conflict nor can it be solved simply
by providing more troops or military hardware. However, if done
properly, additional military support could help improve security,
enforce the ceasefire, protect civilians and allow aid agencies to
provide help to those that desperately need it," said Prodhan.

MONUC
has so far been unable to ensure the peace and effectively protect the
people of eastern Congo. Without better leadership and a genuine
commitment to address both the immediate crisis and the factors that
have created it, even with additional troops MONUC risks achieving very
little.

Since August, some 200,000 people have been forced from
their homes due to fighting between Laurent Nkunda's National Congress
for the Defence of the People (CNDP) and the Congolese army. The
fighting has intensified around Goma and surrounding areas in recent
days forcing thousands more to flee their homes and the camps in which
they sought refuge. The fighting has prevented life-saving help being
provided to those who need it and humanitarian agencies have been
forced to suspend operations in the area.

Oxfam supplies clean
water and sanitation to 65,000 people sheltering in four camps around
Goma and is preparing for a wider response as soon as humanitarian
access is secured. On Thursday, international staff were forced to
temporarily relocate out of Goma but national staff remain and measures
are in place to maintain water and sanitation in the camps.

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