Women Activists Express Concern Over DRC Fighting

2267 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Thelma Awori, a Board Member of Isis –WICCE, a global feminist oriented organization promoting justice and empowerment of women through documentation violations of women rights, says that the continuing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has caused women and children untold suffering.

The Isis-Women International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) is calling for regional leaders to find lasting solutions to the problem of armed conflict in the Great Lakes Region.

Thelma Awori, a Board Member of Isis –WICCE, a global feminist oriented organization promoting justice and empowerment of women through documentation violations of women rights, says that the continuing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has caused women and children untold suffering.

Awori argues that militarization especially in Great Lakes Region is hindering women from engaging in economic activities and taking care of their families. She adds that due to the conflict situation, many women have been forced to resort to prostitution in order to survive.

Giving an example of the United Nations Intervention Brigade, an expanded peacekeeping force in  the DRC, Awori says since the force  draws troops across South African Development Community (SADC), all African leaders should get involved in finding solutions to the conflict that has raged on for years.

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The peacekeeping force has a uniquely robust mandate to fight the M23 rebels alongside the DRC government army. The force of more than 3,000 troops, mainly from Tanzania, South Africa and Malawi has been in eastern Congo for nearly three months and commenced fighting Friday.
 
In March this year, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2098, authorizing the use of an "intervention brigade" in the DRC, where M23 rebels have been fighting the government of President Joseph Kabila since 2009. The decision was seen as unprecedented mandate, as it is the first time the Security Council is using a Chapter 7 resolution for the UN forces to take military action against rebel forces to bring peace in the east of the vast mineral-rich country. 

The fighting has forced thousands to flee their country or after being displaced from their homes during the armed conflicts. Before the deployment of the UN Intervention Brigade, there were about 16,000 U.N. peacekeeping troops under the United Nations Mission in DRC, Monusco.

But Awori’s concern is that as the troops fight armed groups in the DRC, militarization will slowly consume the whole continent creating political instabilities and suffering to women and children.

Awori who had just come from Goma on an Isis-WICCE fact finding mission on the conduct of the peacekeeping forces said that the regional town is on tension.

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Uganda has had its share of conflict under the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency, where women and children were sexually harassed, abducted and turned into sex slaves. Boys and men were forced to rape their mothers in order to convince recruiters of their capability to be in armed militants.

To this, Ruth Ochieng, Isis-WICCE Executive Director says women must get involved in bringing to an end the conflicts.

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The two women activists were speaking at the ongoing three day dialogue in Kampala to analyze successes and failures of women leadership in Africa.