FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Secretary Clinton "Speaks out" on Mass Rapes in the DRC...

One thing that struck me today was how long it took to get the word out to the public and for the mainstream media to pick up this story.  The horrific rapes occurred between 30 July and 3 August. 


Let's examine the timeline:

-IMC (International Medical Corps) stated they reported rapes to UN's Office of Humanitarian Affairs on 6 August (3 days after). 
-MONUSCO (UN forces there) state they found 12 August (9 day after).
-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks Tuesday saying he was "outraged." (22 days after)
-I found out and commented 20 days after.  State commented 22 days later. 
-Investigations are 'ongoing.'

       One item that has been continuously harped in various news articles is the fact that these atrocities occurred less than 20 miles from a UN outpost/headquarters (supposedly in Kibua, which is along the 529R Road from Walikale and Goma in the east).  I haven't been able to confirm this though (the main UN headquarters are clear across the country in Kinshasa and it's unclear where these 'headquarters within 20 miles' is physically located).

However, reviewing the attached maps boost one's situational awareness considerably.  20 miles in the Sud-Kivu (South Kivu) province may as well be 1000 miles in this densely forested area. 

The orange tack represents the town of Walikale (a mining town).  The 529R Road runs east from there to Goma.  The rapes have been reported to occur along this road. 
Here's a satellite shot of that road.  Looks like it would be pretty easy to hide away in...

 Some sources in the MONUSCO have stated that they came into the villages but that the rebels fled back into the woods (LFDR and Mai Mai.  However, the UN's official position now states they didn't know they were occurring till 12 August. 

   Also telling is the confusion in the basics of geography and succint language.  Among the incongruities:
-Some reports describe the atrocities as occuring in the eastern congo (vice Eastern DRC, which is the correct location).
-Others describe them as occurring in the town of Luvungi (google map this 'town', you won't find anything in the DRC despite one article describing as a small town with a population on 2,200, although I believe it is there, just not in the online databases I have searched).  
-Some call the province in which the rapes occurred as the North Kivu, others as the South Kivu.

 On the map to the left it clearly shows Goma in the Nord-Kivu (North Kivu) and the rapes happened due West (and a little North) from there, thus they DEFINTELY did not occur in Sud-Kivu.

-Some don't mention Luvungi at all and say the rapes occurred throughout 13 villages along a 20 km stretch in North Kivu (Banamukira territory).  FUUO's position is that this all occurred in North Kivu for the record and most likely within 10 miles of the village of Walikale (the orange tack a few maps above). 

STATE DEPARTMENT PRESS RELEASE (my comments in italics)

Allegation of Mass Rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Washington, DC

August 25, 2010


The United States is deeply concerned by reports of the mass rape of women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) – an armed, illegal rebel group that has terrorized eastern Congo for over a decade – and elements of the Mai Mai, community-based militia groups in eastern Congo.
Both groups deny the attacks but little is also known about these groups intel-wise...other than that they are bad news...I know of only one interview ever done with FDLR's leader. I was mistakenly referring to Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, who is also Bad news with a capital 'B'.
This horrific attack is yet another example of how sexual violence undermines efforts to achieve and maintain stability in areas torn by conflict but striving for peace.

The United States has repeatedly condemned the epidemic of sexual violence in conflict zones around the world, and we will continue to speak out on this issue for those who cannot speak for themselves. Less than a year ago, I presided over the UN Security Council session where Resolution 1888 (2009) was unanimously adopted, underscoring the importance of preventing and responding to sexual violence as a tactic of war against civilians. Now  the international community must build on this action with specific steps to protect local populations against sexual and gender-based violence and bring to justice those who commit such atrocities.

Sexual violence harms more than its immediate victims. It denies and destroys our common dignity, it shreds the fabric that weaves us together as humans, it endangers families and communities, it erodes social and political stability, and it undermines economic progress. These travesties, committed with impunity against innocent civilians who play no role in armed conflict, hold us all back.

When I visited the DRC last year, I learned an old proverb -- “No matter how long the night, the day is sure to come.” In the depths of this dark night of suffering and pain, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The United States will do everything we can to work with the UN and the DRC government to hold the perpetrators of these acts accountable, and to create a safe environment for women, girls, and all civilians living in the eastern Congo. 

There is no doubt that Secretary Clinton's statement is heartfelt and while a large portion of it strikes FUUO as rhetoric, that is only because she (State) are keenly aware of the monumental undertaking that must be done and achieved to create this 'safe environment
It is FUUO's belief that creating this safe environment means infrastructure.  And the ability to maintain that infrastructure.  We are talking about roads, mass transportation, effective and reliable communication, to name only a small portion of requirements)  This is not something that the United States is currently structured or positioned to do (or the UN for that matter...but I won't get started on that rant). 

But there is a way...but this will require a 'radical' departure in how the "Trinity" (DOD, State, AID) do business...

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