The exclusion of women has a very real cost. Even so they are the people who suffer most from poverty in today’s world. They endure many injustices and their voices are too rarely heard. In Africa, women are the backbone of societies and represent the strength of the continent.
Development and Peace has been active in the Congo since the early 1980s. In collaboration with CIDA, Development and Peace launched a project supporting peace and democracy in the country that aimed to facilitate the pre-electoral, electoral and post-electoral processes.
Sadly, the Congo has been the scene of horrific violence over the last decade as several groups are fighting over political power and control of the country’s vast natural resources. Women have been particularly affected by this violence as rape has been commonly used as a weapon of war. In conjunction with our regular program, Development and Peace has also launched an emergency program to provide humanitarian relief.
For our regular program, we continue to support groups working to uphold democratic gains made since the 2006 elections, as well as groups working for the establishment of a lasting peace.
The Congolese have been victims of ongoing conflict
- Since 1997, more than 5 million have died
- 40,000 women have been raped
- Over 1,4 million people are currently displaced inside the country
- Between 1997 and 2003, 9 African countries and some 30 armed groups fought a bloody war in the country
- This war was the biggest in the history of contemporary Africa and caused the largest loss of life since World War II
August 2008 saw a resurgence of hostilities with intense fighting between government troops and rebel groups. Over 250,000 people were forced to flee, including nearly 100,000 in the last week when rebels took control of part of the region and attacked the regional capital of Goma. This grim situation accelerated day by day.
Displaced people roam the countryside unprotected, needing shelter, food, water and medical care. Indeed, even their temporary camps are not safe. The greatest challenge for humanitarian aid workers remains access to displaced persons’ camps. Their ability to do their work depends on the level of violence, the amount of roadblocks and the accessibility of remote areas.
Our action includes humanitarian aid, development and advocacy
- We are working with Caritas Congo to provide 90,000 people with household necessities - blankets, clothing for children and adults, soap, plastic cups and spoons, buckets, water bottles and cooking pots.
- We are appealing to the Canadian government to contribute to humanitarian aid and long term support for reconstruction and peace-building.
- We also ask the government to reinforce the United Nations Mission in the Congo (MONUC) and to reopen the investigations on the illegal exploitation of natural resources.
If it were not for organizations such as Development and Peace and the support of people willing to help like you, many more lives would be lost during this crisis.
Conférence Épiscopale Nationale du Congo – Commission Justice et Paix (CEJP-CENCO)
The CEJP-CENCO is the justice and peace commission of the Conference of Bishops in the Congo. It is working diligently to bring peace to the restive province of South Kivu, an isolated area of the country that has been the scene of several outbreaks of violence between various groups.
The CEJP-CENCO has launched a program in the region that aims to promote peace and reconciliation, the rights of women and re-launch economic activities that will generate a sustainable income for villagers. The program includes activities such as literacy workshops, micro-credit programs, agricultural training and the rehabilitation of roads to improve movement.
The program is particularly geared towards women and youth, as they have suffered enormously as a consequence of the ongoing conflict. Many of the youth had been recruited into combat and are not trying to leave their violent past behind. The CEJP-CENCO has not given up on these youth. "We believe that young people are now the builders of our society. The future of the Congo is being created; an entire nation is being created," explains Sister Marie Bernard Alima, Executive Secretary of the CEJP-CENCO.
Listen to Sister Marie Bernard explain some of the positive effects of the CEJP-CENCO’s program:
Radio communautaire Katanga (RCK)
Access to information is not easy for rural communities in the Congo. Few villagers have electricity, let alone internet access. A daily newspaper costs approximately $1, which is the equivalent to the average daily salary of most Congolese.
On the other hand, a working radio receiver with batteries costs approximately $15 and may be used by several people at once. Community radios are therefore the most economical source of information available.
Therefore community radio stations, such as RCK, play a significant role in spreading vital news. Where they are broadcast, small listener clubs have spontaneously sprung up, bringing about thought and discussion on topics such as new agricultural practices or questionable traditional practices.
Community radios often act as legal counselors by informing civilians of their rights, which allows them to be better prepared to recognize and fight injustices.
Three years ago, Floribert Chebeya, a Congolese human rights activist and president of the non-governmental organization La Voix des Sans Voix (a voice for the voiceless), was found murdered in his car. The investigation into his death led to the arrest and trial of several police officers believed to be behind the murder.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been living a decade-long civil war that has wrought countless atrocities on the population, including six million deaths. Recent fighting around the city of Goma in November 2012 was a stark reminder of the fear and insecurity that civilians face daily in the absence of good governance, rule of law, peace and accountability.
The conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is getting bogged down, with civilians being its main victims. The Congolese government of President Joseph Kabila and the M23 rebels met in recent days in Kampala, Uganda's capital, to negotiate an end to the hostilities.
The capture of the city of Goma by ‘M23’ rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been a major cause for concern for the security of the local population. Ongoing violence in the DRC since 1996 has led to five million deaths and this latest incident has caused the displacement of an estimated 100,000 people.
The taking of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the March 23 Movement (M23) is a major affront to international law and to the largest and most expensive United Nations peacekeeping mission in operation. It has intensified an already alarming humanitarian crisis.
Recent conflict between the supporters of General Bosco Ntaganda and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) in North Kivu has led to the massive displacement of thousands of people in the region.
Conditions surrounding the November 28 elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the irregularities that tarnished them have discredited the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) and the entire electoral process.
What is the main issue driving these elections? What will influence the vote this time? Almost always, the answer to our question was: Vote sensibly. What does that mean exactly, here in Katanga, the wealthiest province in the Congo and home to the outgoing president?
It was still dark when, at 5:30 am, we arrived at the Kiwele Lycée, the voting centre we were set to observe. Already, a number of people gathered at the front gate, which would only open once materials had been delivered to all 25 polling stations at the centre. The centre’s chief and staff were busy counting and distributing packets of ballots across the various rooms.
Sunday morning in Lubumbashi, on the eve of the elections. All is calm. Last night, an arms bunker in a nearby military camp was raided, but we heard nothing. We are staying at the Archdiocese Mother House, right next to the St. Paul and St. Peter Cathedral, where scores of praying faithful gather for every mass. We can hear the religious hymns of the magnificent Congolese choirs.
The presidential and parliamentary elections taking place on Monday, November 28 hold special importance for the future of the country.
When the Development and Peace delegation landed in Lubumbashi, the atmosphere was charged with excitement over the elections.
A Development and Peace delegation left today for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to observe the upcoming elections. (Read press release)
Voters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will go to the polls next Monday, November 28.
To ensure that proper voting procedures are followed, the National Conference of Congolese Bishops (CENCO) will be deploying some 30,000 independent observers throughout the country.
Inspired by the graphic novel Roza or The Courage to Choose Life, which tells the story of the horrific impact of violence on women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), youth members of Development and Peace are taking action to urge the Cana
Caritas helps victims of sexual abuse in the DRC
This video, made by Caritas Australia, illustrates the work of Development and Peace partner Caritas Congo with women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), violence has become a way of life. Violence against women is particularly rampant and rape has become a weapon of war in the country. In many instances, armed men will overrun a village, attack the inhabitants, rape the women, destroy crops and leave in their wake a path of terror and destruction.
For those who manage to escape, they must return to their villages in the aftermath and try to heal the wounds left behind and re-build their communities with a culture of peace.