Congo Watch: February 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

UK Minister for Africa Baroness Kinnock makes inaugural visit to DR Congo

Here are some photos of British government minister Baroness Kinnock on her first visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as Minister for Africa.

During her visit Baroness Kinnock met with Prime Minister Muzito and other key ministers to discuss, amongst other issues, the upcoming elections in 2011.

The UK is one of the largest bilateral donors to the DRC, providing support for stabilisation in the East as well as for governance, elections and police reform.

Minister for Africa makes inaugural visit to DRC

Photo: Minister for Africa makes inaugural visit to DRC (Photo credit: UK FCO)

Visit to DR Congo

Photo: Visit to DR Congo (Photo credit: UK FCO)

Muslim community in DRC

Photo: Muslim community in DRC (Photo credit: UK FCO)

Women activists in DRC

Photo: Women activists in DRC (Photo credit: UK FCO)

Minister for Africa makes inaugural visit to DRC
From UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Tuesday, 23 February 2010:
Baroness Kinnock makes her first visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as Minister for Africa.

Baroness Kinnock, FCO minister with responsibility for Africa, visited Kinshasa and South Kivu as part of a wider visit to the region.

During her visit Baroness Kinnock met with Prime Minister Muzito and other key ministers to discuss, amongst other issues, the upcoming elections in 2011.

Baroness Kinnock also visited a Muslim community NGO, COMICO, which focuses on capacity building for Muslim women in the DRC. This was followed by a roundtable discussion with a number of MPs and NGOs focusing on women's rights.

Speaking during her visit, Baroness Kinnock said:

'The women in the eastern region of Congo have suffered the most terrible sexual abuse and violence and they suffer from terrible psychological trauma as well as physical problems of unimaginable kind. They need to feel that there’s some justice, that there is some way of dealing with the perpetrators of that violence, and those are the kind of issues that we need to keep raising. We need to see reform of many aspects of the institutions in Congo and I think whatever efforts we can make to support them, alongside the European Union, the United Nations and others, then we’re really up for doing that.'

The Minister was hosted by the British Embassy in Kinshasa, which won ‘Team of the Year’ at the UK Civil Service Awards in 2008 for its joined up approach with the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence.

Later in the week, the Minister will travel to the east of the country, where she will visit the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), a water and sanitation project and Panzi hospital, which specialises in treating victims of gender based violence.
Glenys Kinnock said:

'When I’m in eastern Congo I will be meeting with the army, both the Congolese army and the United Nations forces, and talking about how they intend to review the way that they see the process of moving forward in Congo.'

The UK is one of the largest bilateral donors to the DRC, providing support for stabilisation in the East as well as for governance, elections and police reform.

Further information

DRC Embassy website

Glenys Kinnock on BBC News (23 Feb 2010)

Glenys Kinnock on BBC World News (22 Feb 2010)

Lord Malloch-Brown, previous Minister for Africa, visited DRC in November 2008.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Coup attempt underway in Niger

See reports at Niger Watch, Thursday, 18 February 2010.

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

UK gov't job vacancy: A2 Statistics Adviser based within World Bank Nairobi Country Office, Kenya

Seen on twitter:
RT with correct link #DFIDjobs New vacancy: Statistics Adviser, Kenya. Apply now: http://ow.ly/12ExI Closing date: 27 Feb
6:29 AM Feb 5th from HootSuite
dfid_uk
Based within the World Bank Nairobi Country Office, you will support the KNBS reform process, the design/implementation of the next KNBS strategic plan, and lead the sector's donor co-ordination. The closing date for applications is 27 February 2010. LAST UPDATED: 28 JAN 2010. Click here for specific vacancy information [PDF - 88 KB] and apply online.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Back to Africa: A new Haitian homeland?

If a proposal under consideration by the African Union this week were to bear fruit, Haitians made homeless by the earthquake could start afresh in a new homeland in Africa.

From The Independent (UK)
By Leo Hornak
Monday, 1 February 2010
Back to Africa: A new Haitian homeland?
African Union (AU) President Jean Ping yesterday announced that the idea of resettling displaced Haitians in Africa would be part of the AU's formal agenda during its annual summit this week. According to Mr Ping, Haiti's history as a creation of the slave trade and the world's first black republic creates a special obligation for African Union members.

"It is out of a sense of duty and memory and solidarity that we can further the proposal ... to create in Africa the conditions for the return of Haitians," said Mr Ping. The idea of a new Haitian homeland in Africa was originally suggested by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade last month, and now appears to be gathering momentum. As a first step, Mr Wade has asked African governments to naturalise any Haitians who wish to emigrate to their country, and to encourage African families to adopt Haitian children orphaned in the earthquake.

It would not be the first time that a new African state has been created to house the descendants of slaves from the new world. In 1847, the American Colonisation Society, an unlikely coalition of abolitionists and slave owners, created Liberia with the same aim in mind. Thousands of former slaves and their descendants eventually made the journey from the US to west Africa. Little care was taken to protect the rights of the tribes already living in the territory, however, and Liberian society has been divided between settler and indigenous communities ever since – indigenous Liberians were only given the vote in 1963.

Mr Wade has also referred to the Middle East as a model for his Haitian project. Speaking to Euronews last week he said: "It's not asking too much to transplant those who want it. Israel was desert. Palestine was desert. People were transplanted who today are building a country."

The resettlement idea also raises questions about whether many African countries have the resources to support a large influx of impoverished Haitian refugees, or would be willing to give up territory for a new state. Senegal has some points of cultural contact with Haiti, but it is far from wealthy. In 2009, Senegal was rated 166 out of 177 on the UN's Human Development Index. Haiti was 17 places higher at 149.
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