Sunday, November 30, 2008

FDLR's goal is to return to Rwanda and topple President Kagame - Murwanashyaka's Hutu FDLR and Nkunda's Tutsi CNDP will remain enemies forever

The gunmen who executed the Rwandan genocide and now fight in the Democratic Republic of Congo will "always" kill Tutsis because the two sides "cannot mix", according to Major Vincent Habamungu, who commands the Hutus FDLR "Tiger" unit. Read more:

From The Daily Telegraph
By David Blair in Goma, 30 November 2008
Outrage over the dictator poised to lead Africa


At the root of Congo's turmoil is the presence of the militias who exterminated at least 800,000 people, largely the minority Tutsis, in neighbouring Rwanda 14 years ago.

Once, they called themselves the "Interahamwe", or "those who kill together". Now, they seek respectability under a new name – the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by their French acronym FDLR – and their fighters are deployed in Eastern Congo's lawless provinces of North and South Kivu.

They are bitter enemies of General Laurent Nkunda, the renegade Congolese Tutsi who has thrown a noose around Goma, North Kivu's capital.

While global attention has focused on Gen Nkunda, the FDLR's presence is the central cause of the bloodshed.

Major Vincent Habamungu, who commands the FDLR's "Tiger" unit, told The Daily Telegraph that nothing could stop their campaign. "We are fighting every day because we are Hutu and they are Tutsis. We cannot mix, we are always in conflict," he said. "We will stay enemies forever."

The FDLR's official goal is to return to Rwanda and topple President Paul Kagame. Although the movement tries to disown the genocide, many believe the FDLR also wants to complete the extirpation of the Tutsis.

Gen Nkunda portrays himself as the protector of the Tutsis, who also live in eastern Congo. Hence the FLDR's presence provides the justification for his rebellion.

Today, Congo is trapped in what one United Nations official calls a "vicious circle" of conflict. As long as the FLDR fights on, Gen Nkunda's campaign will continue. But the FDLR says it will only disarm if Gen Nkunda does the same.

Major Habamungu, who spoke from the Ishasha area of North Kivu, said the FDLR would fight all the way back to Rwanda. "We came from Rwanda and we always want to go back to our homeland. We are soldiers and we want to go back as soldiers," he said.

Major Habamungu, 38, joined the army of Rwanda's previous regime 15 years ago. He denies any part in the genocide of 1994.

"I cannot be accused because personally I did nothing in the genocide. I was only a soldier and a soldier protects people," he said.

As for the FDLR's responsibility, Major Habamungu said: "Everybody killed, Tutsis and Hutus. They accuse us of carrying out the genocide, but everybody killed."

This revisionism infuriates Rwanda's government. Mr Kagame also believes that European countries have shown inexcusable lenience towards the FDLR, despite its genocidal history.

The movement's overall leader, Ignace Murwanashyaka, has found refuge in Germany, where he lives in Mannheim. Also living in Germany is the FDLR's secretary-general, Callixte Mbarashimana.

The German authorities have arrested both men from time to time – but they have always been released.

America has criticised Germany's attitude, expressing "disappointment" that both men are "able to operate with impunity although they continue to support FDLR efforts to evade justice, propagate violence, abuse civilians, and illegally exploit Congo's mineral wealth".

Under UN Resolution 1804, President Joseph Kabila of Congo is obliged to disarm and repatriate the FDLR. Instead, he views them as tacit allies against Gen Nkunda's forces.

Meanwhile, the UN is making its own efforts to encourage FDLR fighters to surrender, but these move at a snail's pace.

For his part, Major Habamungu candidly summarised his movement's ideology. "We will never live in peace with them [Tutsis]. We have to fight them all the time," he said.

DR Congo:  FDLR soldiers

Photo: FDLR soldiers at a base in Lushebere in the Massasi district, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Congolese terrorist group leader Nkunda threatens 'war' after taking border town of Ishasha, nr Goma, DR Congo

This is a vent. Why do reporters refer to Laurent Nkunda as "General"? Going by what I have gathered here at Congo Watch, he is a civilian criminal with a gang of terrifying gunmen and rapists.

In my view, Nkunda and his ilk are terrorists: terrorising, raping, maiming and murdering civilians, especially women and children, at random. They all belong in jail. I liken Nkunda to a deluded cult leader, like the drug addled Ugandan psycho LRA leader Jospeh Kony. Any evil psychopath with delusions of grandeur can get hold of a gun and call himself a General.

Look at the AFP photo here below, of Nkunda dressed all in white. Who does he think he is, the Pope or what? Why aren't the law enforcers sorting out these cretinous lowlifes?

How is Nkunda affording his luxurious array of expensive clothes and munitions? Why is he free to behave like an actor on the world's stage, lording it over the media like a pop star? Why aren't professional reporters telling us what is going on? So far, The Daily Telegraph's Africa correspondent David Blair is the only journalist giving us a clue as to what is really behind Nkunda.

If Nkunda and his ilk are not arrested soon for questioning, and put on trial to air and document their crimes, one might start suspecting that their backers are using power to influence the UN Security Council and, in the case of DR Congo, MONUC.

How else are Nkunda et al remaining free to do press interviews while roaming around with guns, instigating anarchy, rape, looting, pillaging, mass murders and environmental destruction, costing the world a fortune. What about the unimaginable misery and suffering of millions of poor defenceless locals and children. I wonder, who has such a power? I smell some rats.

Here is an excerpt from yesterday's BBC report, copied here below:
"If there is no negotiation, let us say then there is war," Gen Nkunda told reporters. "I know that (the government) has no capacity to fight, so they have only one choice - negotiations," he said.

"We asked for a response as to where, when, and with whom we are going to do these talks. For us, we propose Nairobi and for the mediator we proposed chief Obasanjo," Mr Nkunda said.
What a nerve! I say, the where, when, and with whom they are going to do these talks should be at:


And, while you're at it, take along other terrorist group leaders SLA's Nur, JEM's Ibrahim and LRA's Kony and get them to sing.

Obasanjo & Nkunda

Photo: Nkunda (in white) proposes Mr Obasanjo as the mediator of talks (AFP)

Vent continued. After 4.5 years of blogging hotspots in Africa, I am getting angry at continued reporting of neverending billions of taxpayers dollars being poured into Africa that ends up maintaining the careers of so-called "rebels".

African thugs without gainful employment are getting as media savvy as the Somali pirates. They pretend to be freedom fighters. All of them are only in it for themselves and the money. Their macho adventures attract so much media attention and publicity that they are being turned into celebrity heroes while they pose for photos with gun in hand, acting as role models for youngsters who may grow up believing that being a criminal is easier than doing an honest day's work to put bread on the table.

What has any of this to do with me one might ask. Ever since I was a child, I have given generously to a countless number of charities for Africa, especially Oxfam. Recently, I stopped donating because I no longer believe that the hard saved money I give is of any help. I am angry that a handful of thugs are using tax payer's money, garnered from the pockets of millions of decent hard working people, as a cash cow to milk and laugh at all the way to the bank while milliions of locals and children continue to be either raped, maimed, starved, murdered en masse or traumatised for the rest of their lives.

Genocide has become a rebels game. There's a method to their madness. I've tracked news on Sudan, South Sudan, Northern Uganda, DR Congo, Ethiopia and Niger for over 4 years, almost 24/7, and sense a pattern. The same thread of terror and land grabbing is running throughout those countries and, in my opinion, it all boils down to oil.

I say, arrest and question all rebel leaders, air and document their grievances and victims. Compared to the six billion other people on this planet, money grabbing power hungry lowlife terrorists are nothing but a handful of mosquitoes. Squash, get rid of them. They are infecting and killing the world. They are worse and more costly than AIDS and crazier than Al-Qaida.


Saturday, 29 November 2008 report from the BBC:
Rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda has threatened war unless the government of DR Congo holds a new round of talks.

He was speaking after a meeting with UN envoy Olusegun Obasanjo in the rebel-held eastern town of Jomba.

Troops loyal to Gen Nkunda have been battling government forces in North Kivu province since August, forcing 250,000 people to flee their homes.

Two weeks ago Mr Obasanjo negotiated a ceasefire, but renewed fighting has since broken out.

"If there is no negotiation, let us say then there is war," Gen Nkunda told reporters.

"I know that (the government) has no capacity to fight, so they have only one choice - negotiations," he said.

"We asked for a response as to where, when, and with whom we are going to do these talks. For us, we propose Nairobi and for the mediator we proposed chief Obasanjo," Mr Nkunda said.

Government ministers this week rebuffed the possibility of direct negotiations with the rebel leader, calling for him to return to an earlier peace pact signed in January.

Emerging from his one-hour meeting, Mr Obasanjo avoided questions but said: "We have advanced the course of peace."

Mr Obasanjo - Nigeria's former president - is on his second visit to the region in two weeks.

He has been trying to broker direct talks between Gen Nkunda and Congolese President Joseph Kabila, but so far these have not taken place.

The UN envoy is travelling with former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, who is representing the African Union.

"I'm going to listen to him," Mr Mkapa said ahead of the meeting with Gen Nkunda.

"I want to know how he thinks we can get the restoration of peace, stability and unity in this country."
Truce violated

A ceasefire declared by Gen Nkunda has halted battles with government troops and brought nearly two weeks of relative calm.

But his men have continued attacking Congolese and Rwandan militia allies of the government, sending thousands of refugees fleeing east into Uganda.

Gen Nkunda says the ceasefire does not apply to operations against foreign militia.

On Thursday, the rebels took the border town of Ishasha, about 120km (75 miles) north of regional capital Goma.

His Tutsi-dominated forces say they are attacking Rwandan Hutu fighters, some of whom are accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered.

On Friday, the UN began an operation to relocate people from camps near the front line.

Some 65,000 people displaced by fighting have been living only a few hundred metres from fighting positions in Kibati, near Goma.

The UN is trying to transfer people to safer locations west of Goma.
Virunga, DR Congo


CNDP: Gen Nkunda's Tutsi rebels - 6,000 fighters
FDLR: Rwandan Hutus - 6-7,000
Mai Mai: pro-government militia - 3,500
Monuc: UN peacekeepers - 6,000 in North Kivu, including about 1,000 in Goma (17,000 nationwide)
DRC army - 90,000 (nationwide)
Source: UN, military experts (BBC)

(Cross posted today at Sudan Watch and Uganda Watch)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Petition demanding that the UN in Congo (MONUC) arrest the notorious war criminal Nkunda now

For people everywhere who are outraged about war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by NKUNDA, a Petition was started by on November 25, 2008, saying:
We, the undersigned, make an urgent appeal to MONUC to fulfill its international obligations and immediately arrest Nkunda accused war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The continuing horrific killing of civilians testifies that Human Rights Watch was absolutely reasonable in its warning then in 2006 and it’s today. “So long as Nkunda is at large, the civilian population remains at grave risk"

We call on MONUC to arrest Nkunda immediately now without further delay

French translation:

Nous, soussignés, lançons un appel pressant à la MONUC de remplir ses obligations internationales et immédiatement arrêter Nkunda accusé de crimes de guerre et crimes contre l'humanité

La poursuite des horribles meurtres de civils témoigne que Human Rights Watch a été tout à fait raisonnable dans son avertissement depuis 2006 et il est aujourd'hui. "Aussi longtemps que Nkunda est en liberté, la population civile demeure en grand danger"

Nous demandons à la MONUC d'arrêter Nkunda immédiatement maintenant sans plus tarder.
To date, there are 279 signatures. I added mine today.

Laurent Nkunda

Photo: Nkunda denies accusations of rape and looting on the part of his forces [AFP] Source: Friday, 31 October 2008 (Aljazeera and agencies) report: Rebel move sees DR Congo city empty

"We are asking for freedom and we also have to fight for it" - Laurent Nkunda, speaking to Al Jazeera (Posted to Congo Watch 30 Oct 08)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nkunda made it clear he would not accept EU troops

This report tells us that Congolese war criminal Nkunda made it clear he would not accept EU troops, but wanted smaller countries such as Norway - not an EU member - to send contributions to the UN peacekeeping mission MONUC, or engage otherwise militarily.

What makes him think he is in a negotiable position? He should be in jail.

DRC rebel leader wants Norwegian mediation

November 27, 2008 (afrol News) report by staff writer:
Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda has called on the Norwegian government, which has led several international peace mediations, to intervene in the armed conflict and humanitarian crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Congolese rebel leader has made several advances towards Norway, politicians from the Nordic country revealed today. General Nkunda said he would trust the Norwegians due to their experience in peace mediation and Norway's very limited economic and political interests in his country.

Mr Nkunda today confirmed this to reporters from Norway's public broadcaster 'NRK' on telephone from eastern DRC. He again made an appeal to the Oslo government to get involved in the Congolese conflict.

Asked whether he believed that Norwegian mediators could achieve anything UN mediator and Nigerian ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo was unable to achieve, General Nkunda answered it was not a question of choosing. He "several times" had suggested to the Norwegian government that they should "assist" Mr Obasanjo in his ongoing mediation.

He also hailed a UN request for Norwegian peacekeepers in the DRC. "That is a very good idea. EU troops, no, but Norwegian troops I could trust." Mr Nkunda made it clear he would not accept EU troops, but wanted smaller countries such as Norway - not an EU member - to send contributions to the UN peacekeeping mission MONUC, or engage otherwise militarily.

Norway's government so far has been lukewarm when it comes to sending troops to the DRC, but Development Cooperation Minister Erik Solheim - who is also the peace mediator in Sri Lanka - immediately answered the Congolese rebel leader's request. He promised the Oslo government would go through the troop request again, having Mr Nkunda's desire in mind.

Mr Solheim also did not rule out a Norwegian effort to assist in DRC peace negotiations. Also other political leaders in Oslo gave their immediate support to look into the Congolese rebel leader's request.

Norway has a long history of international peace mediation, with the "Oslo process" between Israel and Palestine being the most known. Norway-mediated peaces also include Guatemala and Sri Lanka. In Africa, the Oslo government has been strongly involved in the South Sudan peace and is now trying to mediate between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The DRC rebel leader to calling for Norwegian mediation has been seen as a sign of his Tutsi rebel movement being sincere in wanting to reach a peaceful solution to the eastern Congo conflict.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

LRA's Kony to sign peace deal in Ri-Kwangba, South Sudan Nov. 29 says chief mediator Riek Machar

Kony signs peace on Saturday
November 26, 2008 (New Vision) report by Henry Mukasa:
LRA leader Joseph Kony

Photo: LRA leader Joseph Kony

LRA leader Joseph Kony is expected to sign the final peace deal on Saturday to end his two-decade long rebellion which ravaged the north, said the chief mediator, Dr. Riek Machar.

Addressing journalists in Juba yesterday, Machar said: “(Kony) said he will sign. Indications are that he will.”

Machar is also the vice president of South Sudan. “There will be signing on 29th [November],” the United Nations special envoy to LRA affected areas, Joachim Chissano, told the BBC.

Chissano, however, left room for disappointment considering that Kony has failed the peace talks many times in the past.

“I don’t have reasons to doubt that he will show up. I’m more confident than a few weeks ago,” the former Mozambique president said.

Chief Government negotiator Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda yesterday chaired an impromptu meeting with his team over the development.

Spokesperson Capt. Chris Magezi said after the meeting that the mediators had been informed of the “consistent signals” Kony has been sending.

“We are willing to go and participate in that function in Ri-Kwangba (South Sudan),” Magezi said. “We hope Kony is not fooling again as he has done in the past.”

He also hoped that Kony would also meet his obligations after the signing. The Rugunda team, he said, would fly to the signing venue on Friday only if Machar and Chissano, who travelled to Ri-Kwangba today, confirmed the elusive rebel leader had arrived.

If he signs, it will mark a climax of the long-drawn negotiations. Kony disappointed mediators and diplomats when he failed to show up for the signing ceremony on April 14 at Nabanga.

He said he would only sign if the world court withdrew charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against him.

He also wanted to understand how the traditional justice system and the special court which is to try war criminals would work.

However, foreign minister Sam Kutesa said Kony must first sign the peace before his indictment by The Hague is addressed.

Kutesa said Kony was the only serious obstacle to a final peace agreement.

“Our people are ready to sign any time, but Kony is the one who has been eluding us,” he told the BBC.

After a flurry of diplomatic missions to his hideout by Chissano, and a consultative meeting in Munyonyo last week, Kony seems to have been persuade to ink the deal.

Kony and his fighters had moved deep into the DR Congo, where they loot and abduct youth in “preparation for war.”

However, mediators gave Kony up to the end of November to sign the pact. The LRA leader had often called meetings with negotiators and elders from the north but failed to show up.
Cross posted to Sudan Watch and Uganda Watch

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Telegraph Exclusive: DR Congo rebels recruited from Rwanda army - Wealthy Rwandans need Nkunda to protect their interests in E. Congo

The Daily Telegraph's Africa correspondent David Blair is in Goma! Trust him to come up with an exclusive report telling us that Rwanda is allowing its territory to be used as a recruiting ground for the rebel movement behind the DR Congo's latest bloodshed, according to first-hand accounts. Here is a copy of the report and accompanying video:
The Daily Telegraph, UK
DR Congo rebels recruited from Rwanda army
By David Blair in Goma, DR Congo
Last Updated: 12:20PM UK GMT 20 Nov 2008

Evidence gathered by The Daily Telegraph contradicts Rwanda's official denial of any role in the war in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 250,000 people have endured months of suffering since they were forced to flee their homes.

Instead, fighters recruited from inside Rwanda's army have joined General Laurent Nkunda's rebels in Congo.

Rwanda is one of Britain's closest African allies, receiving £46 million of aid last year. President Paul Kagame appears to be treading a thin line between officially helping the rebels and turning a blind eye to their use of Rwandan territory.

A 27-year-old fighter in Gen Nkunda's movement said that he served as a platoon commander in Rwanda's army until last month.

"There are many former Rwandan soldiers with the CNDP [Gen Nkunda's rebels]. When I was still in the Rwandan army, I was in touch with them. They wanted me to join the CNDP," he said. "I decided to join them because fighting for the CNDP is like fighting for Rwanda."

Gen Nkunda's stated goal is to eliminate the militias who murdered at least 800,000 people in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. These armed groups have found refuge in eastern Congo and Rwanda has a vital interest in neutralising them. Hence Rwanda and Gen Nkunda share common aims.

The rebel, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Gen Nkunda needed more fighters when he launched his offensive in August. Rwandan officers who were in touch with the rebels quietly conveyed the need for recruits.

Along with seven other Rwandan soldiers, the fighter crossed the Rwinyoni border post shortly before Gen Nkunda advanced towards Goma, eastern Congo's main city, last month.

"We met our friends from the CNDP on the Congo side. They gave us new uniforms," said the rebel.

The fighter described himself as a "deserter" from Rwanda's army and an "ex-Rwandan soldier", saying that he destroyed his military identity card. But he added that Rwandan officers are aware of the flow of former soldiers over the frontier.

Some are deserters, others have been officially demobilised. But Rwanda's highly centralised government has full control over its borders. The authorities could almost certainly stop this movement of recruits for Congo's rebels.

Instead, it has become a long-standing tradition. Another 28-year-old rebel said that he was demobilised from Rwanda's army in 2006. He crossed the border into Congo and joined Gen Nkunda six months later.

"I am a soldier, not a politician," he said. "I am fighting to protect our community here in Congo."

Gen Nkunda has proclaimed himself the protector of the Tutsis in eastern Congo. The presence of genocidal militias who tried to eradicate Rwanda's Tutsis 14 years ago amounts to a constant threat.

These gunmen, who once called themselves the Interahamwe, or "those who kill together", are the prime cause of eastern Congo's chaos. For as long as they remain at large, Gen Nkunda's rebellion will continue - with tacit Rwandan support.

But great wealth is also at stake. Wealthy Rwandans, including members of the government, have farming and mining interests in eastern Congo.

They need Gen Nkunda to protect these assets. Meanwhile, the rebels must finance their campaign. Gen Nkunda's movement is believed to hold bank accounts in Rwanda's capital, Kigali.

Despite this, Gen Nkunda is not a puppet of Rwanda's government. He possesses an independent agenda and copes with deep splits inside his movement. But the neighbouring country serves as a crucial recruiting and financial centre.
Now we know, thanks to David Blair, that, surprise, surprise, the death and destruction affecting millions of Congolese all boils down to a wealthy few with farming and mining interests in eastern Congo, not for the benefit of poor locals. Spit. Criminals freely running around inciting anarchy and mass murder make me sick.

Surely, violent overthrow of government is unacceptable in this day and age. In Africa, I hope that SLA's Nur, JEM's brahim, LRA's Kony and CNDP's Nkunda and their followers and sponsors are put on trial for crimes against humanity and imprisoned for life for inciting anarchy and mass murder, not to mention the cost to ordinary hardworking taxpayers' around the world involved in having to send billions of dollars worth of aid.

We can't afford to prop up gun toting gangsters and give them the world's stage. I'm feeling angry after years of blogging about these so-called "rebels". For the locals things just get worse while power crazed opportunists just get more rich and deluded like dimwitted pop celebrities believing their own hype. Where is the outrage while UN peacekeepers are being slain all over Africa because of a handul of gun toting psychos? The world is sick. Puke.
- - -

UN seeks $7 billion in humanitarian aid for 2009, by far its largest ever appeal - November 19, 2008 report from - excerpt:
The biggest requirement is for Sudan at just over $2 billion, with the appeal for the DRC up from $600 million last year to $830 million.

“In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), around 250,000 people are believed to have been displaced in the last two months and the situation is becoming increasingly desperate,” UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Deputy Executive Director Frafjord Johnson said, referring to the surge in fighting between Government and rebel forces in the east of the vast country.

She said more than 100,000 children were “on the run” in North Kivu and South Kivu provinces, either with their families or separated from them. Some 3 million people in the east were affected in one way or another, either fleeing fighting or hosting the displaced. There was no doubt that there had been a spike in recruitment of children by armed groups and sexual violence had increased, with clear evidence of children and women being raped.

ICC trial of Congo war crimes suspect Thomas Lubanga to restart in January

More good news of another degenerate Congolese. November 18, 2008 report by Reuters - ICC to restart Lubanga trial in January:
(THE HAGUE) The trial of Congo war crimes suspect Thomas Lubanga will restart on January 26 as prosecutors are now releasing key documents to the defence, judges at the International Criminal Court said on Tuesday.

The world's first permanent war crimes tribunal halted the trial of the Congolese militia leader in June due to concerns he could be denied a fair trial as the defence could not view some evidence against him. Lubanga remained in detention.

Lubanga, handed over to the court in 2006, is accused of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 in Democratic Republic of Congo's northeastern Ituri district. He has denied the charges.

Congolese war criminal Lubanga - ICC to restart his trial in January

The trial was halted when the prosecution could not share about 150 documents from the United Nations and other sources that could help Lubanga's case because they were provided on the condition of confidentiality to protect sources on the ground.

The prosecution has now resolved the confidentiality issues and the ICC said in a statement it was lifting the stay on proceedings. It gave the prosecution until 1500 GMT on November 19 to arrange complete disclosure of the documents to the defence.

The court last month ruled that by refusing to disclose the documents, prosecutors had effectively prevented the court from assessing evidence and determining whether a fair trial was possible.

The halt to Lubanga's trial was seen as a major setback for the court set up in 2002, which now has 106 member states and is also investigating crimes in Sudan's Darfur region, Uganda and the Central African Republic.
I say, lock him up for life and throw away the key.
- - -

UPDATE on Thursday, 20 Nov 2008: ICC says Thomas Lubanga Dyilo will remain in custody

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo will remain in custody
During a hearing today, Trial Chamber I decided not to grant the release nor provisional release of Mr Thomas Lubanga Dyilo.

Stay of proceedings in the Lubanga case is lifted - trial provisionally scheduled for 26 January 2009
Today, Trial Chamber I decided to lift the stay of proceedings in the case of The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubana Dyilo that had been imposed on 13 June 2008.

Media Advisory: Public hearing of the Lubanga case on 18 November 2008
On Tuesday 18 November 2008, Trial Chamber I is scheduled to hold a public Status Conference on the Lubanga case

Source: ICC

ICC judges to review LRA cases in light of deal between Kampala and LRA - Ugandan army and LRA guilty of crimes against humanity says AI & UHRC

Oyeee! At long last, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Uganda's army (UPDF) are coming under the world's spotlight.

Give up and get down to doing an honest day's work all you cretinous lazy bum terrorists. We're watching you drugged up lowlife cowards getting your jollies from raping and killing women and children.

After seven long years, the West's war on terrorists and war criminals is starting to come to fruition. We'll get you. Plenty of room is now in place to accommodate war criminals at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

We use thermal imaging and satellites to track and watch you hiding under bushes. There's no hiding place for you on Earth. Big Brother knows where you are and what you are doing day and night.

Reports released on Monday by UK-based Amnesty International and Uganda Human Rights Activists (UHRC) find the LRA and UPDF guilty of crimes against humanity.

Uganda army guilty of crimes against humanity - AI, UHRC reports
November 17, 2008 PANA report from Kampala, Uganda via Afriquenligne:
As embattled Ugandan government accuses the vicious rebel force of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) of committing all sorts of atrocities on hapless civilians in the war-wrecked northern region, human rights groups have found its army guilty of committing similar crimes against humanity.

In separate "stinging" reports obtained Monday, both Amnesty International (AI) and Uganda Human Rights Activists (UHRC) accused the Uganda People Defence Forces (UPDF) of turning their guns against civilians during their counter-insurgency operations against LRA and disarmament operations in the country's north-eastern sub-region.

AI, a UK-based human rights group, in a report based on a five-month study in no rthern Uganda districts of Gulu, Amuru, Kitgum, Pader and Lira, found widespread sexual and physical abuses perpetrated by both the government soldiers and rebels, leaving their victims traumatised.

"Hundreds are left impaired, unable to fend for themselves any more, yet discriminated by relatives and state authorities," Dr. Godfrey Odongo, AI researcher for East Africa and lead author of the report, stated.

"Many years on, victims and survivors of human rights violations still bear the scars of these violations (and) little has been done to ensure that they access effective reparations to address their continued suffering and help them to rebuild their lives.

"There was general impunity for soldiers who committed Human Rights violations a gainst civilians."

Dr. Odongo, who described the stinging reports as forward looking, said they focused on reparations rather than what happened or the violations suffered, citing a host of victims giving harrowing testimonies of the suffering they are undergong, caused by UPDF.

Geoffrey Okumu, a war victim, was quoted in the report as saying, in May 1990, government soldiers stormed their neighborhood, arrested and killed his father an d brother on allegations of being LRA rebel collaborators and possessing illegal guns.

"My father and brother denied the accusations but the soldiers took them away. Not very far from where I remained, I heard gunshots and later realised they had been killed. We had lost a bread winner (so) I dropped out of school to fend for my siblings," AI quoted Okumu as testifying.

In Amuru district, the reports quoted Rose Apio as saying that she watched four of her relatives die after being shot by government soldiers and is now struggling to raise four orphans left by her eldest brother killed in the bizarre shooting.

Martin Abit, 38, a resident of Pader District told AI that UPDF soldiers arrested his elder brother, a non-combatant, during a counter-attack on LRA and he was later killed together with "several other people".

"The UPDF battalion (in the area) took his body with them and promised to give the body to the family for burial but to this day, the body has never been returned to our family for burial," the reports quoted Abit as alleging.

"It is not clear if the government army took the corpse away to destroy evidence that would otherwise incriminate them in committing murder or for ritual purposes, a common practice in some parts of the country.

"Survivors need medical attention, counseling and psychological support. Formerly abducted children need access to education," the UK-based rights group asserted.

"Families need compensation for the deaths and injuries that occurred, restitution for their destroyed land and property, an apology for the violations and proper reburials for their loved ones.

"The government needs to start acting on these needs now," the report added in conclusion.

As usual, Army and Ministry of Defence Spokesman, Major Paddy Ankuda, poured scorn on the reports, saying AI cannot be taken seriously because people who should have given the side of the UPDF account were available but were never contacted.

"If there is any incriminating evidence that our soldier kills anyone, there is no shortcut; they face the law," Ankuda said on telephone Monday afternoon.

"The fresh allegations of human rights abuses by the UPDF chronicled by AI are "outrageous and indefensible," Ankuda shot back.

Since the United Nations sponsored International Criminal Court (ICC) issued warrants of arrest for LRA leadership to answer multiple charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, courtesy of Uganda government, there has been voices saying Uganda army too should face trial in the Hauge.

The indictment remains a sticking issue in the country's peace process brokered by Southern Sudan Vice President Dr. Reick Macar, with LRA leader Joseph Kony refusing to sign the final peace pact if not withdrawn.

Uganda Human Rights Activists (UHRA), in a separate report, stated that soldiers deployed in the disarmament programme code-named 'Operation Restore Hope' in July this year, are torturing and extorting money from residents in Teso and Karamoja sub-regions.

According to the report, Mr. John Ogwang, a resident of Kokong Parish, Kapir Sub-county, in Kumi District, died after he was reportedly tortured by soldiers in an attempt to get a gun from him.

"The late Ogwang was arrested 2 September by soldiers under the command of Major Alfred Obore Opio, from his village.

"They tied his arms behind the back before taking him to Kapir military barracks while being tortured to reveal where he kept a gun.

"By the time they reached (the barracks), Ogwang's body was swollen from head totoes. At the military detach, he was starved for two days till he collapsed," UHRC cited one, out of host of cases in its report.

"Although the operation has good intentions of getting rid of illegal guns in Teso, the officers have abused their authority and should be brought to book," the report, signed by UHRA Coordinator, Valentine Moses Oleico, suggested.

The 3rd Division spokesperson, Captain Henry Obbo, was quoted to have confirmed Ogwang's death, saying "he died while in transit from Kapir military detachment to Soroti police" base.

Captain Obbo also dismissed reports that Ogwang was starved to death while in their harsh custody.
I say, about time too! Too little attention has been paid to the atrocities committed by the LRA in Uganda, South Sudan, CAR and recently in the DR of Congo where they are hiding out in the jungle. No doubt special forces are on their trail.

Since the LRA have been on the rampage all over the place, why not in Chad, Darfur, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, I ask myself. Why have they been allowed to be on the rampage for 20 years? Who is behind this psycho terrorist group?

After 4.5 years of bloging news on the LRA, the conclusion I have reached is that they are off their heads, as high as kites on mind altering substances, and are worse than Al-Qaeda. More later.

See Uganda Watch, Thursday, November 20, 2008 - ICC judges to review LRA cases in light of deal between Kampala and LRA: Rethink comes in light of a deal between Kampala and the LRA providing for domestic war crimes prosecutions.
Source: Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR)
Date: Wednesday, 19 November 2008
By Katy Glassborow in The Hague and Joe Wacha in Gulu, northern Uganda (AR No. 193, 19-Nov-08).

[Cross posted today at Uganda Watch and Sudan Watch]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rob Crilly's twitter from frontline in DR Congo (Update 3)

Crossed front line listening to Celine Dione. Returned listening to Phil Collins. Strong words with driver needed

Source: Twitter / robcrilly 16/11/08 14:17
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Rob Crilly's report from the road in and out of Goma, DR Congo

DR Congo govt soldier and his pet monkey James

Photo: A government soldier on the road out of Goma with his pet, James (Rob Crilly)

Source: The Roads in and out of Goma by Rob Crilly From The Frontline, November 13, 2008:
The road into Goma twists and turns through the hills of Rwanda until you drop down through the mist to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The flat waters of Lake Kivu stretch into the distance giving the lakeside hotels the feel of an Italian holiday resort.

Ventured out to the north soon after arriving. The dirt road passed village after abandoned village. All along the way government soldiers were wandering back towards town. Some carried four or five AK-47s. Taken from fallen comrades?

It wasn’t long before we reached no-man’s land.

As we bumped along the road, a mzungu on the back of a moped waved us down. “Where is Kibati camp?” Erm, we passed it two miles back, you’ve crossed the front line.

He was last seen haring back towards Goma.
Best of British luck Rob. Take good care of yourself.
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Rob Crilly's report From The Frontline in DR Congo

DRC war criminal Nkunda kissing babies

Photo: Laurent Nkunda and Olesegun Obasanjo inspect rebel troops (Rob Crilly)

Source: November 17, 2008 report by Rob Crilly From The Frontline in DR Congo - Nkunda's Media War:
So I made my way up into the rebel-held hills at the weekend to seek out General Laurent Nkunda, the renegade Tutsi general, who has helped bring a fresh wave of misery to Congo’s embattled people. Yesterday he was meeting the UN’s new peace envoy, Olesegun Obasanjo, the former Nigerian president.

It was a miserable sight. One agency photographer refused to move a snap of Nkunda kissing a baby. He said it was too disgusting. I sort of decided that Nkunda kissing babies was the point…

His rebel fighters have helped to force a quarter of a million Congolese villagers from their homes in the past three months and kept a region in turmoil. Yesterday, however, General Laurent Nkunda emerged from the bush in a smart suit and fine Italian shoes to do what he does best.

For three hours he entertained visiting dignitaries with promises of a ceasefire.

He talked, kissed babies and wooed the international media, even as his followers engaged government troops in heavy fighting.

I can’t help feeling that the international media has been one of Nkunda’s most effective weapons. We are still trooping up for a “fireside chat” and regurgitating his contradictory nonsense. Al Jazeera is pretty much staying in his guest bedroom. The result is that Nkunda is spreading his propaganda far and wide, and hundreds of thousands of people are living in fear of his army, which has little real chance of actually taking Goma or Kinshasa - his apparent targets.
I'd love to hear Rob's take on LRA terrorist group leader Joseph Kony ... and an interview. Surely they're all as high as kites. What else would explain their sadistic barbarism and crimes against humanity over 20 long years? I say, lock up those guys and throw away the keys. Find out who is supporting them financially and lock them up for the rest of their days. They're all sick in the head or downright evil or not human.
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Congolese war criminal Nkunda in a suit

Congolese war criminal Nkunda in a suit

Photo: General Laurent Nkunda, right, with Olusegun Obasanjo, the UN envoy (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Source: Monday, November 17, 2008 (The Times) report by Rob Crilly in Jomba, DR Congo - Rebel leader tells UN envoy of ceasefire but fighting rages in Congo:
His rebel fighters have helped to force a quarter of a million Congolese villagers from their homes in the past three months and kept a region in turmoil. Yesterday, however, General Laurent Nkunda emerged from the bush in a smart suit and fine Italian shoes to do what he does best.

For three hours he entertained visiting dignitaries with promises of a ceasefire.

He talked, kissed babies and wooed the international media, even as his followers engaged government troops in heavy fighting.

After meeting Olusegun Obasanjo, the UN peace envoy and former Nigerian President, General Nkunda insisted that he was ready to negotiate. “Let me tell you we have agreed a ceasefire and are waiting for the other side to respect it,” he said.

The talks took place inside a church hall in the rebel-held town of Jomba, about 60 miles (96km) from the regional capital, Goma. General Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) came within a few miles of taking Goma during fighting in October. Aid workers were withdrawn and the Government pulled out its troops before an expected rebel advance that never came. Since then the conflict has settled into a routine of tit-for-tat muscle-flexing as both sides try to gain territory ahead of any negotiations.

General Nkunda claims to be protecting ethnic Tutsis from Hutu militias who fled from Rwanda after the 1994 genocide.

Yesterday a UN official reported exchanges of artillery, rocket and small-arms fire near the village of Ndeko, about 70 miles north of Goma, shortly before Mr Obasanjo’s arrival.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich, the chief military spokesman for the 17,000-strong peacekeeping mission, said: “It is difficult to say who started it, but we can confirm it was between the CNDP and the army. We have treated six army soldiers who were wounded and need to be evacuated.”

Mr Obasanjo was appointed by Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, to attempt to help to end the fighting.

The venue for talks was a neat mission station built during Belgian colonial rule. Sunday school was cancelled and hundreds of locals — the men in smart shirts, the women in vibrant fabrics — milled around after Mass.

Flanked by militiamen, General Nkunda said that he was ready to talk to the Government without setting any preconditions.

“Today is a great day for us because we were losing many men and now we have a message of peace. We should work with this mission,” the general said. “We agreed to open humanitarian corridors to support the process.”

Mr Obasanjo said the talks had gone well and he would relay General Nkunda’s words to Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Nkunda wants to maintain a ceasefire, but it’s like dancing the tango. You can’t do it alone,” he said.

It was an apt turn of phrase. Within minutes the two men were dancing and laughing with a troupe of young performers who beat out a rhythm on a goatskin drum.

General Nkunda, clutching his trademark cane topped with a silver eagle’s head, kissed babies and posed for photographs before both men inspected a guard of honour.

His media offensive has been every bit as effective as his military operation, allowing him ample opportunity to claim his 7,000-strong rebel army is about to march on the capital, Kinshasa, or to take Goma. Some doubt his capacity to fulfil these threats — but the result is a land filled with fear. Thousands of people are crammed into the squalid camps that surround Goma. While all sides stand accused of looting, pillaging and raping their way through village after village, there are many who fear General Nkunda’s rebel army in particular.

Anne-Marie has been sleeping on the floor of a school since fleeing her home in Rutshuru, on the main road north from Goma.

A group of men she believes were rebels, dressed in fatigues and wellington boots, called at her simple wooden house late one night. They shot her five daughters and her husband. “My children were killed in my sight. I fainted but then I was lying in a pool of blood so that they might think I was not alive,” she said in Swahili.

She survived — but only after being marched into the forest and raped by five men.
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Postscript from author of Congo Watch

After 4.5 years of blogging Sudan, Congo and Uganda I think I shall scream if I read another horrific rape report.

I say, where is the outrage? What is the matter with these men? Surely they are not human? Why aren't they being arrested? They need castrating ... in public .. and their testicles hung from the highest tree to shrivel up and die so they can never procreate. I'm serious!

PLEASE someone do something to enable women to protect themselves, pink guns, pepper spray, Rapex, chastity belts ... anything!!


Don't leave this page without reading the following shocking and deeply disturbing report by Christine Toomey entitled "A cradle of inhumanity". It is what kept me motivated blogging Darfur, to see if it was possible, using blogging technology, to stop genocide from happening again, and to learn the reasons for man's inhumanity to (wo)man and why rape is used as a weapon of war.

Christine Toomey's report, published on November 9, 2003 in The Sunday Times Magazine, is about the children of Bosnia's rape victims and the terrible difficulties faced by them, their mothers and those who care for them.

Once you have read it, you will never forget it. And might find yourself sharing the outrage expressed here above. Here is a copy of the report, in full, followed by an excerpt from an archived post at my personal blog ME AND OPHELIA - and another, from Sudan Watch, entitled "A prayer for the janjaweed rape babies".
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From The Sunday Times
November 9, 2003
A cradle of inhumanity

These little girls believe their fathers were good men. They may never know the truth. One pictures a nice home, the other rocks for comfort. What future is there for the children of Bosnian rape victims? Report by Christine Toomey

The moments when Jasmina feels greatest tenderness towards her child are when her daughter whispers: "Close the door, Mama. I want to rock a little." Alone then with her mother, 10-year-old Elma will sit silently rocking herself for comfort. "She feels as if this is something that no one else should see," Jasmina explains. "She has rocked herself like this since she was a baby. Maybe it is strange. But it makes me love her more than any mother should probably love their child."

Such fierce love has not come easily to Jasmina. When her daughter was an infant crying to be fed, she would pretend she did not hear the baby's distress. "I used to block out the sound and just leave her, walk away... I had to work very hard to love my child." This sounds like the admission of a reluctant young mother. But Jasmina's complex relationship with her child has far darker roots.

Elma is one of the many children born as a result of their mothers being subjected to what is now recognised in international law as mass genocidal rape by soldiers, paramilitaries and police - most of them Serbs - during the savage conflict that gripped the Balkans throughout the first half of the 1990s. No record exists of how many such children were born - though the figure is believed to run into thousands - since many women never spoke of what had happened to them during the war, having abandoned their babies immediately after birth.

More than 10 years after the start of the conflict, the number of those subjected to such sexual torture is still unclear. Official estimates range from 12,000 to 50,000. "For those of us who worked with these women, such statistics have little meaning," says Dr Ante Klobucar of the Sveti Duh Hospital in Zagreb, the Croatian capital where many of those who had been raped secured abortions or gave birth to unwanted babies after fleeing as refugees. "How can the ordeal of a woman held prisoner for months, and raped three or four times a day by a group of six or more soldiers, be measured? Does what she went through count as one rape or several hundred?" questions the doctor, recalling how women, after delivering their babies, begged that the rape-induced pregnancy not be entered in their medical records, so great was their sense of shame and fear of being abandoned by their families.

After years of prevarication over intervening in the conflict that cost more than 200,000 lives, the international outcry at reports of mass atrocities committed against women in Bosnia was one of the key factors responsible for eventually pushing world leaders to take action to end the war. The image of a young Muslim woman who hanged herself from a tree with a piece of torn blanket, in despair at the brutality, remains one of the most haunting of the conflict and has been cited as one of the catalysts prompting President Bill Clinton to eventually change US policy in the region.

But once all political capital had been wrung from the atrocities to which these women were subjected, their suffering was quickly forgotten: their plight no longer constituted a fashionable cause. While those who were left physically disabled by the fighting - such as amputees and paraplegics - receive modest monthly payments, rape victims, who are more psychologically than physically scarred, are entitled to nothing.

Many of these women now live in miserable circumstances, often in "collective centres" little better than refugee camps, after being ostracised by their families or left homeless after being forced to flee homes to which they are still afraid to return. Though a key provision of the Dayton accords - which brought an end to open hostilities in November 1995 - stated that every displaced person had the right to return to their pre-war home, few can contemplate going back to communities where their tormentors still hold positions of power.

In the eastern half of the country known as the Republika Srpska - the vast swathe of territory ceded to the Serbs for the sake of peace - many of those responsible for mass murder, ethnic cleansing and mass rape continue to hold public office and work in the police force. Together with the paramilitary groups that still hold sway in this quasi-closed sector of society, they fight any attempt to extradite war criminals to the Hague.

Over the past three years a steady stream of women and girls - some as young as 12 - have made legal history by testifying at the war-crimes tribunal to the operation of a network of rape camps around the country during the conflict, which has led to war rape being recognised for the first time ever as a "crime against humanity". But some of those who have either already given evidence before the tribunal or are due to do so are incensed at the way that what happened to them has been used for political and legal ends, while the way they have been stigmatised since is ignored - both within their own country and by the international community.

Yet if the problems these women face have deepened since the fighting stopped, those of the children born as a result of rape are only just beginning. In a society where the issue of war rape is still taboo, they barely receive a mention. Few even acknowledge their existence. While the right to have their identities protected is beyond dispute, hiding their problems and denying they exist will, mental-health experts fear, only add to their burden in the long run.

Jasmina is one of the very few of these women who chose to keep the child she bore after being raped. For years she suffered taunts from those who knew, or suspected, what had happened to her during the war, and who would openly deride her daughter as "that bastard child". Sometimes, when she took Elma out for a walk, they would shout after her: "There goes that whore - and look, she's given birth to another whore."

But the softly spoken 28-year-old has agreed to speak out about her experience from a deeply held conviction that honesty is ultimately in the best interests of her child. Jasmina also considers herself lucky. A few months ago she got married - a step rarely taken by those who have been through such wartime experiences - and recently she has moved away from her home town to a village where her husband's family have welcomed her and protect her privacy.

"They are good people and he is a good man," she says. "He knows what happened to me. He was a prisoner too. He understands."

In other ways Jasmina's experience is not typical of that suffered by other women during the war. Her ordeal lasted only one night. Her attacker was a Croat soldier rather than a Serb, and he was the only one who tortured her, though he did not act alone. Jasmina, a Muslim, believes a group of Catholic girls she was at school with betrayed her by leading her to her attacker and then leaving her to her fate. Jasmina, who had just finished high school, was unprepared for how quickly the ethnic hatred that was tearing her country apart could infect the group of young people with whom she had grown up.

After she agreed to meet the girlfriends for coffee one afternoon, they led her to the car of her attacker, who abducted her and drove her to a remote hunting lodge. There he bound and tied her, taped her hair to an iron post and subjected her to hours of sexual torture before finally releasing her. Jasmina turns her head away and tears roll down her cheeks as she talks of that night in early 1993. When she realised she had become pregnant, she left her parents' home with the equivalent of just £2 in her pocket and, despite heavy fighting in the area, managed to make her way to Zenica, 40 miles north of the besieged Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. There she begged doctors to perform an abortion. They refused on the grounds that her pregnancy was too advanced.

Both unable and unwilling to return home - Zenica had by that time become sealed off and she was too afraid to tell her parents what had happened - she was sent to a refuge run by Medica, an organisation founded by a German gynaecologist who was determined to provide medical and psychological help for raped and traumatised women.

"Her pregnancy was very hard," recalls Marijana Senjak, a psychologist with Medica. "Like other girls and women in her situation, she did not accept that she was pregnant. She somehow dissociated herself mentally from the child she was carrying, and even when the baby was born, wanted very little to do with her."

But seven days after her daughter's birth, Senjak and others arranged for a traditional Muslim naming ceremony to be held for the child at the refuge, where hundreds of rape victims had by that time sought treatment.

According to custom, prayers of peace and hope were whispered first in the right and then in the left ear of the infant, who was then passed around the assembled group - many of them rape victims too - as a sign of their acceptance of the child. After the other women accepted Elma, then, very slowly, so did Jasmina.

When, at the end of 1992 and early 1993, it became clear that rape was being used as a systematic means of ethnic cleansing - particularly with Muslim women being impregnated and held long enough to ensure they would give birth to "Chetnik" babies - Bosnia's leading Muslim clerics issued a fatwa. The decree was meant to dispel the prejudice that held these women as somehow responsible for their own misfortune, and was intended to dissuade families from maintaining honour by rejecting wives and daughters who had been tortured in this way. Rape victims should be regarded as martyrs, the clerics declared, and children born of rape, if their mothers chose to keep them, should be accepted and supported by the women's families and the rest of the community.

The declaration made little difference. Jasmina was forced to remain in Zenica, then under siege, for the next two years. But when she did return home, although her father took the child to his heart, her mother cursed her for not abandoning Elma after she was born.

"It was only when she saw how determined I was to keep the child that she began to change her mind," says Jasmina. "Now I realise it was my daughter who helped me back to some sort of normality. Perhaps that is why I love her so much."

But, Jasmina admits, had her child been born male, she would not have chosen to keep him. "Even now, when my daughter gets angry there is something in the expression on her face that reminds me of the one who did this to me," says Jasmina, her voice trailing off as she lights another cigarette. "I feel like hitting her in those moments. I have to walk away to calm myself. Imagine what that would be like if I'd had a boy."

Some had no such choice. Amra Sarac, a lawyer and head of a large social-welfare department in Sarajevo, remembers the first time she was called to the bedside of a woman who had just given birth to a child conceived as a result of rape. "I held her hand for a long time. 'All right, my darling,' I told her. 'We will talk about it. But you will, of course, keep the child...'".

"I'll never forget the look in her eyes," Sarac says. "I was wrong. I saw immediately that the child was the trigger for her trauma, and what I had said had traumatised her further. She did not even want to look at the baby. She left the hospital shortly afterwards. Every time I had a call to attend the maternity ward after that, I knew the cause."

As she talks, Sarac sifts through a pile of photographs of children born to mothers who had been raped and who were given up for adoption immediately. Some are smiling toddlers, others a little older. Sarac declines to say exactly how many such children were born that she is aware of. But a list of names that accompanies the photographs runs to several typed pages.

"These children became like my own. Their own mothers never set eyes on them. They realised instinctively that if they looked at them or held them, they would not be able to give them up." Most of the children were adopted by couples in Sarajevo - a brave move, she says, by those who did not know if they would survive the war.

But it was the experience of two sisters referred to her clinic that has particularly haunted Sarac. Both women were suffering from multiple physical injuries and were so traumatised that they could only communicate in short, confused sentences and found it hard to remain in confined spaces. Over the months of therapy that followed, their horrific story slowly emerged.

At first glance, the municipal garage in Hadzici, a small town 30 miles southwest of Sarajevo, appears a bland enough place. Over the past year it has been given a fresh coat of paint and new doors at the top of a ramp that leads to its lower floor. But through a tangle of weeds, an opening to the rear of the building reveals its cavernous interior, and the atmosphere in this place, despite the stifling summer heat, seems to suddenly freeze - a familiar feeling in this country of ghosts. A small sign above the entrance to the garage, reading, "With pain they win the dark, with courage they write the truth", is all that remains now as a reminder of the atrocities carried out here during the war. It is a tribute to more than 50 Bosnian Muslims, many of them elderly and sick, held here by Serb forces in May 1992. Some in the town say they could hear the screams of those held at this site being tortured at night.

After several weeks, those prisoners who survived were moved to positions elsewhere in Serb-controlled territory and most were never seen again - except for the two sisters, who continued to be held here. How deeply the elder of the two women must have regretted her protective instinct that led them to be kept in this stark, concrete bunker is impossible to imagine. For as fighting intensified around Sarajevo in early April 1992, the elder sister - then a 26-year-old mother of two - growing fearful for the safety of her younger sibling, had left her home one morning and, dodging sniper fire and negotiating military roadblocks surrounding the capital, managed to reach the village near Hadzici where her 19-year-old sister was working. But when the two women tried to return home, they found themselves trapped. The military cordon that was to hold Sarajevo under siege for the next three years had become a stranglehold. Stranded at a roadblock, the sisters were arrested and were eventually taken to the municipal garage, where they remained captive for more than two years.

On one occasion the two women, both Muslim, were herded across the road to a Serb Orthodox church, where they were forcibly baptised, as soldiers stood by jeering and shouting that they were "war loot". Throughout the period of their captivity, both women were raped repeatedly by Serb soldiers and paramilitaries.

The elder sister was the first to discover she was pregnant. In the depths of a bitter winter she gave birth to a son. The baby remained locked in the same squalid circumstances as the two women. They had little choice but to take care of him. A few months later, the younger sister also realised she was pregnant, but was able to get word to a doctor, who came to perform an abortion. For more than a year after that, the systematic rape of both women continued.

In the damp, dark, concrete garage, with no heating and little food, the baby quickly became sick and developed acute bronchitis - the only reason, Sarac believes, that all three were released. Of all the women Sarac treated, she says the elder sister was the only one who kept her child."She had no choice. The baby was with her for so long that a bond was formed. By the time she had the chance to give the child up for adoption, she could no longer bring herself to do it."

In due course the elder sister, together with the small boy, was reunited with her husband and two older children, though the family is now struggling with problems. The fact that they were reunited is exceptional. The majority of raped women who were married and whose husbands survived the conflict could not return to their families. Many left the country as refugees. But for the thousands of women who have remained, the situation is miserable.

"Their lives are terrible. Most are chronically ill," says Sarac, who describes the failure of European leaders to put a stop to the carnage sooner than they did as the behaviour of an "old whore". She adds with disgust: "The rest of Europe stood by for so long and allowed this to happen. Now these women and children go on suffering the consequences."

With the flow of international aid into Bosnia declining, as more recent conflicts demand global attention, the lives of these most neglected victims of war can only get worse. Lack of funding is forcing Medica, for instance, to scale back from next year the counselling and health-support services it has continued to provide since the war. In recent months, the organisation has begun lobbying for a state commission to be set up to deal with the problems these women face, not only with their health and raising children, but also, crucially, with housing. Medica is also planning a campaign to change public attitudes to the country's rape victims.

Part of the campaign is to lobby the Bosnian government for rape victims to be afforded "civilian war victim" status, currently reserved for those with physical disabilities. Not only would this be an official recognition of what happened to them - a step towards destigmatising their trauma - it would also secure them and their children limited financial support. It could give those women who can still work some priority when applying for certain jobs - a crucial advantage with unemployment running at over 60%.

This will do little, however, for women such as Sahela, 46, now so frail she looks more like a woman in her late sixties. In the picture that she treasures of her handsome teenage son slouched smiling beside her on a sofa, she is totally unrecognisable. A few months after the picture was taken in 1992, Sahela's 15-year-old son was beheaded in front of her as he begged Serb soldiers not to drag his mother away. After ordering Sahela to bury his body on the spot, the soldiers then raped her in her own home and did so again repeatedly after that in a rape camp, where she and other women were kept tied to beds. Sahela recalls how one young woman she describes as a noted beauty managed to break free from her captors and, crying out for her mother, killed herself by hurling herself through a closed upper-floor window to end the continuing torture.

Sahela is among those who have testified at the Hague, but is bitter about the way she has been ignored since. "They made my story part of history. But I do not want to be treated as history. I want a life," she says.

She receives the equivalent of £17 a month in compensation for the loss of her son, and scrapes by in a cramped one-room apartment. She wanted to speak out, to get others to take notice, but the strain of doing so saw her being readmitted to hospital for treatment later in the evening of the day we spoke.

Given the unwillingness to discuss or deal with the problems of those women who have been raped, the reluctance to even admit to the problems faced by children born as a result of such crimes is unsurprising. But there are limits to such denial. For no matter how protective women like Jasmina are, or how hard adoptive parents try to shield the truth from children abandoned by their mothers, as they reach adolescence these young people will start asking questions about their backgrounds.

"In the early years, a child may ask very little about his or her father - especially after picking up unspoken messages from those around him that he should never be discussed," says Zehra Danes, a child psychologist. "But, consciously or unconsciously, many of these children will have felt rejected and have started displaying problems as a direct result of having to fight to be loved."

Aside from the way in which Elma rocks herself for comfort, Jasmina admits her daughter is a solitary child, preferring to sit for hours alone with headphones on, listening to music. When she started primary school, Jasmina remembers being called in by Elma's teacher, who wanted to know why the young child always cut any mention of fathers out of stories being told in the class. "I told them they had no right to ask such questions, and told my daughter that if anyone asked her she should say I am both her mother and her father, that her father was killed in the war." But often, Jasmina says, she would cry when she had to discuss such things with her daughter.

Some people believe that those children given up for adoption might fare better than the small number who have remained with their mothers. It is thought that some women who chose to keep their babies might have clung to them as a kind of emotional armour, and might risk rejecting them later as they gradually associate the child with the assault that led to their conception. Those mothers who chose to keep their babies and subsequently left Bosnia as refugees to live abroad are said by some to be likely to find life easier both for themselves and their children. But Amra Sarac disagrees. "Wherever they go, these women will take their trauma with them. At least those who stayed here are among those who know what happened, even if it is not openly admitted."

One brave writer, who accompanied several convoys of women and children out of Sarajevo during the war, and who has remained in touch with a group of raped women who gave birth in a safe house she helped establish on the Croatian coast, is sure that none of the women intend to tell the children the truth about their backgrounds. All of them left for third countries after deciding to keep their offspring. "I sat with them until the early hours of the morning as they discussed the stories they would make up to tell the children about who their fathers were. They even started to believe the stories themselves. I believe it is better that way," she says. "The courage of these women affected me very deeply."

Whether or not children should know the truth about their fathers, however, is a subject those at Medica have considered carefully. New family laws currently under consideration in Bosnia are expected to bring it in line with many other countries by allowing adopted children, once they come of age, the right to find out what information is known about their biological parents. "Parents form such a fundamental part of a child's identity - to find out your father is a killer or rapist can be disastrous," says Marijana Senjak. "If someone is to learn the truth, it is much better that they do so when they are older, once their personality and sense of self is already established."

Zehra Danes, however, believes it is quite possible that children will find out on their own. "Once a child reaches adolescence, if he knows nothing about his father, he will do everything he can to find out, and if that child lives in Bosnia, there is a huge possibility that he will discover the truth," she says. "This is much worse than being told."

It is for this reason that Jasmina is determined to explain to Elma sooner rather than later the true circumstances that led to her birth."Perhaps when she starts to attend high school, then I'll tell her what happened," she says. "I am raising Elma to believe that we should have no secrets. I want her to hear the truth from someone who loves her." To certain young people, the truth might make very little difference, however. Of all Bosnia's forgotten children born of rape, these are the most neglected of all.

Samira rushes forward with a lopsided grin, her oversized shoes flapping noisily. She has a warm nature and readily throws her spindly arms around visiting strangers. Like most 10-year-old girls, she giggles a lot. But her attention wanders easily. She often leans her head slightly backwards and stares quietly and seriously into the middle distance, as if she is lost in her own thoughts.

It is impossible to know what Samira is thinking in these moments. The orphanage in Bosnia where she lives classifies her as a child with special needs. She is a slow learner, finds it hard to concentrate and is easily distressed. As the mental and physical state of a mother when pregnant is known to affect the later development of her child, one cannot begin to imagine the ghosts that lie buried deep within this young girl's psyche.

There are few details on record about the circumstances leading to Samira's birth. All that is known is that her mother was a 17-year-old girl from a Catholic family in northeastern Bosnia when she was seized by Serb forces in the spring of 1992 and raped. How long she was held before escaping or being released is not clear. But, like many thousands of refugees, she either trudged on foot or was bused in a convoy out of her beleaguered country in the winter of 1992, and transported to Croatia, where Samira was born in a hospital on the Dalmatian coast in January 1993.

Samira's mother wanted nothing to do with the child, and the infant was quickly transferred into the care of the Catholic charity Caritas, which in turn passed her into the care of a small children's home run by a Muslim charity in Zagreb.

As part of the post-war policy to repatriate as many refugees as possible, Samira was brought back to Bosnia in 1996 with eight other children and placed in an orphanage. Two of the other children who, like Samira, had been born after their mothers were raped, were quickly placed with families. Samira was not. For the past seven years she has been caught in a legal limbo.

In the absence of any record of what her mother wished to happen to her child, authorisation for her to be adopted would have been needed from the social-services department in the municipality where her mother lived before the war. But that now lies in the Republika Srpska. In order for the Serb authorities to give permission for Samira to be adopted, they would have to accept financial responsibility for the special care she needs; they would also, indirectly, have to acknowledge the circumstances under which she was born. But in the Republika Srpska, all inconvenient historical facts such as genocide and mass rape are vehemently denied.

One social worker, referring to a note that accompanied Samira's birth certificate, admits there is little likelihood that the child and her mother will ever be reunited, even if her mother could be traced. The note simply states the mother had made it clear that her child was "unwanted". Even so, Samira has fared rather better than some of the other children, who, like her, were given over into the temporary care of Caritas in Zagreb but who have even been abandoned by their own country.

For 10-year-old Alen, this is the latest in a pathetic saga of rejections.

After arriving in Croatia as a refugee in the autumn of 1992, Alen's mother had apparently sought an abortion. But like many in her predicament, she was told that her pregnancy was too advanced and she would have to carry the child to term. Hospital records show she did not want her baby's birth registered and that she left for Germany shortly after he was born - without ever setting eyes on her son.

In the frenzy of media attention that accompanied reports of widespread rape during the Bosnian war, many maternity units in the areas to which refugees fled were inundated with calls from couples offering to adopt babies born as a result of this systematic policy of ethnic cleansing. Alen was adopted by a Croatian couple. But as the months went by, his new parents realised he was failing to thrive. Readmitted to hospital with a chest infection, he was diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy. On hearing the news, his adoptive parents disowned him.

"He was returned like damaged goods," says Jelena Brajsa, the director of Caritas in Zagreb, who was asked to take the boy into her care when he was released from hospital. "To my mind, this second rejection was a hundred times worse than the rejection by his mother."

Alen was then placed in a home for handicapped children run by Caritas. He is one of five children in the home whose mothers gave birth after being raped and whom nobody would subsequently adopt. But not only have these children been rejected by their birth mothers - and, in Alen's case, once again after that - they have also been rejected, she says, by the country to which most would agree they belong.

Although many, like Samira, were repatriated after the war, some with apparent health problems were left behind. Last year, says Brajsa, the Bosnian authorities finally agreed to exchange a group of disabled young people of Croatian origin for this group of Bosnian children in her care. "Several months ago they arrived with a group of handicapped adults for us to look after," she says, "yet still they did not take the children."

After so many rejections, Brajsa says she could hardly bear now for Alen in particular to leave the care of Caritas. "I can't imagine who would be prepared to adopt these children now, anyway. They are no longer babies and they have so many problems." One 12-year-old girl, like Alen, is confined to a wheelchair. Another nine-year-old girl has a history of self-harm. One 10-year-old boy, Mirzan, diagnosed as "hyperactive", like Samira, rushes forward to throw his arms around visitors and constantly hovers close by. He rarely talks or asks questions, however. "He has never asked about his parents," says one of his carers, "nor wanted to know where he comes from."

By contrast, Samira is well informed: she knows she was born in Croatia. But beyond that, her imagination has taken hold. Her parents, she says, live in a "neat and clean house" in Zagreb. "I don't have a telephone number to call them. I wish I did," she says. "But when I am older, I will try to find out where they live." Officially, the orphanage is only authorised to offer Samira a home until she is 18. Where she will go after that is unclear. When asked what she would like to do when she is older, Samira is quick to answer. "I want to be a doctor," she says. "Then I can look after people." Though she is making progress at school, she will be lucky to find any kind of work. "The best she can hope for is to become a seamstress," says a social worker at the orphanage. "But how she'll ever be able to support herself I don't know."

While some children in the orphanage have savings accounts set up in their name, to which various charities make occasional donations, Samira does not. Because the Serb-controlled municipality where her mother was born will not accept responsibility for her, she still has no national identity number, necessary, for instance, for a bank account to be opened in her name. Legally, she does not, in effect, exist.

When she is not outdoors playing with the other children at the orphanage, Samira likes to draw. Sitting quietly at a desk in the corner of the bedroom she shares with two other girls, she draws a picture of the house in Zagreb where she imagines her parents live. It is surrounded by birds and butterflies. To one side of the house she draws herself smiling. On the other side she draws her mother and father - "Mama and Tata".

"I always think about them, especially at night before I go to sleep," says Samira, colouring furiously. "I wish they would come to see me - just once. One day, I am sure, they will."

Some names have been changed to protect identities.

If you would like to make a contribution to Medica or Samira, The Sunday Times has set up an account from which money will be sent to Bosnia once all donations have been received. So please make any cheques and postal orders payable to "Bosnia Cradle" and send them to:

News International
Treasury Dept
Fleet House, Cygnet Park
Hampton, Peterborough

Please indicate on a note with the cheque if you have a particular preference that the money go to Medica or to Samira.

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Congo Watch Ed: Note to self to revisit my archived posts:

November 17, 2003 - MASS GENOCIDAL RAPE OF 50,000 AS A 'WEAPON OF WAR' : Many responsible for mass rape continue to hold public office - The children have even been abandoned by their own country

November 19, 2003 - MASS GENOCIDAL RAPE : Can you read, listen and try to make it never happen again...?

November 28, 2003 re "The Bosnia-Cradle Network" [check on what has transpired to date]. Here is an excerpt from the post containing a copy of the London barrister's letter to Andrew Dismore MP:

Friday, November 28, 2003
London barrister has offered support to start "The Bosnia-Cradle Network"

Andrew Dismore MP
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA

20th November 2003

Dear Mr Dismore,

Bosnian Rape Victims

Further to my telephone conversation we are writing to you ask for your help in raising the issue of the treatment of Bosnian Rape Victims and their children. We also attach an article which appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine written by Christine Toomey, which we, and many others like us, have found very deeply disturbing. May we just summarise the background, as I understand it, in this way.


During the war in Bosnia (circa 1990-1996), it is estimated that between 12,000-50,000 women were subjected to sexual torture, including rape. The majority of rapists were Serb soldiers, policemen and local officials.

You may recall that it was this act of mass rapes, which was one of the key factors, eventually pushing the world to take action to end the war.

Whilst those who were injured in the conflict and suffered physically (amputees and paraplegics) receive modest monthly payments, the rape victims, who are arguably more psychologically and physically scarred, are in the most part entitled to nothing. Some of these women were raped over a period of months, and raped three or four times a day by a group of six or more soldiers. How is their ordeal to be measured?

The children of many of the rape victims were aborted and those who were not, barely receive a mention. Few acknowledge their existence. Other children are taunted and derided as "bastards" by their neighbours. Some have ended up in orphanages. The problems for these unfortunate children are just beginning. There appears to be a complete unwillingness on part of the authorities to deal with these problems.

In the eastern half of the country known as the Republika Srpska-territory ceded to the Serbs for the sake of peace, many responsible for mass murder, ethnic cleaning and mass rape continue to hold public office and work in the police force. Together with the paramilitary groups they fight any attempt to extradite war criminals to The Hague.

Organisations such as Medica and other private charities do what they can to help but more is needed. However, lack of funding next year is forcing Medica into scaling down its counselling and health-support services.


If you agree, that this situation cannot be allowed to continue, then you may be able to help us in the following way:

(i) what is the British Government doing to ensure that the benefits and welfare assistance given to other Bosnian victims of the war are being passed to these rape victims and their children on equal terms?

Further what is the Government doing to ensure that housing needs of these victims is being met?

(ii) is the British Government pressurising the Bosnian government into affording "civilian war victim" status-currently reserved for those with physical disabilities, to these rape victims. This would automatically entitle them to greater financial help then they receive at the moment?

(iii) what is the British Government doing to pressurise the Bosnian authorities in tracking down the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes against these women. As we have said above, we understand that that many of the Serb perpetrators are still holding public office and any attempt to extradite them is being resisted. How can this be allowed to continue?

We wonder whether you can either raise this issue as a question in Parliament, an Early Day Motion or an Adjournment Debate.

There is a danger that the world will forget this silent minority. We must not let that happen, we must raise their plight in parliament and with your help, encourage the government to put pressure on the Serbian authorities to act.

May we make it clear, we are not interested in political point scoring on this very sensitive issue, what we and many of our friends, who have read this article, want to see is some justice for these victims.

We fully appreciate that you must have a considerable amount of work to do as a Member of Parliament, if, because of the burden of your own work you feel unable to help, would you let us know as soon as possible so that we can approach some one else.

We thank you for your assistance and await your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Roumana and Mohammed Khamisa

_ _ _

A prayer for rape babies

Prayer for Janjaweed rape baby

See Sudan Watch archives, November 27, 2004:
A prayer for the janjaweed rape babies


Monday, November 17, 2008

UNMIS & MONUC to reconstruct road linking S. Sudan and DR Congo - Riek Machar visits Kenya to discuss a proposed peace agreement between Uganda & LRA

November 12, 2008 (KHARTOUM) report from Anyuak Media by SRS - Road to Link UN Missions In Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo:
GOSS [Government of South Sudan] Vice President Dr. Riek Machar says he has reached an agreement with the United Nations Mission in Sudan to reconstruct the road linking southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Speaking in Nairobi on Friday, Dr. Machar said UNMIS will construct the road from Maridi in Western Equatoria state to Ri-kwamba on the border with the DRC.

MONUC, the UN mission to the DRC, has said it will also construct a road to the Sudanese border from the DRC side.

Dr. Machar said that apart from connecting Sudan’s UNMIS [UN Mission in Sudan] and the DRC’s MONUC by land, the road would facilitate transport and trade between Western Equatoria state and the DRC.

Dr. Riek Machar was in Nairobi to discuss a proposed peace agreement between Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Machar met DRC President Joseph Kabila at the meeting in Nairobi to talk about co-coordinating UN forces in Uganda and the DRC.

The two discussed the possibility of stationing some members of the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team (CHMT) with UN MONUC forces inside the DRC to monitor the movement and activities of the LRA.

CHMT is composed of senior army officers from Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, the DRC, Uganda, southern Sudan and the LRA.

The team was established in Juba [South Sudan] to monitor the ceasefire agreement signed two years ago between the Uganda government and the LRA.
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Cross posted today at Sudan Watch.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ugandan MPs fear DR Congo crisis will divert global focus from LRA terrorists hiding in DRC's Garamba national park

November 16, 2008 APA-Kampala (Uganda):
Members of Parliament from Northern Uganda are expressing concern that the current crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo will divert the international focus from the mediation efforts between Uganda and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

One of the legislators Mr. Reagan Okumu on Sunday in an interview, underscored the need to continue pressurizing the rebel leader to sign the final comprehensive peace agreement.

The signature will end over two decades of war in northern Uganda that has now spilled to eastern Congo and Sudan.

Okumu feared that the Ugandan rebels now in Garamba national park of DR Congo could take advantage of the current conflict to prolong their presence in their hide out. M/tjm/
See Uganda Watch Sunday, 16 November 2008 re LRA cult.

DR Congo: Cholera cases tripled in some areas to 150 a week - UN (OCHA) N. Kivu Situation Report 13 Nov 2008 - Cholera increase in N. & S. Kivu

What are the symptoms of cholera? How is it transmitted? How do you treat it? See answers here below, courtesy of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

DR Congo:  Cholera

UN (OCHA) North Kivu Situation Report 13 Nov 2008 - Cholera increase in North & South Kivu

Novembre 13, 2008 UN (OCHA) rapport de situation humanitaire au Nord-Kivu:
Les pillages se poursuivent au Sud Lubero;
2,000 personnes traversent la frontière vers l’Ouganda portant à 12 000 le total;
Les cas de choléra triplent dans la zone de santé de Goma depuis le mois d’Octobre.

Contexte politique et sécuritaire

Selon des sources locales à Kirumba et Kanyabayonga, les militaires FARDC, des éléments PARECO ainsi que des bandits ont pillé les deux cités dans la nuit du 12 au 13 novembre. Deux personnes ont été tuées à leur domicile à Kirumba et la cité de Kanyabayonga s’est de nouveau vidée de sa population. La Police Militaire affirme avoir arrêté 18 militaires la même nuit

Les localités de Rwindi, Kibirizi, Mirangi situées respectivement à 20 km, 17 km et 10 km de Kanyabayonga (Sud Lubero) sont désormais sous contrôle du CNDP.
Click here for full report. Photo d’archive/OCHA
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WHO & health partners lead massive cholera response in E. DRC

November 13, 2008 (Goma/Geneva):
The World Health Organization (WHO) and health partners have launched an intensive operation to prevent and control the increase in the number of cholera cases, which have tripled in some areas to 150 a week, amid the recent escalation of violence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Insecurity, massive population displacement (at least 250 000 people since early August), weak health services and a lack of safe water and proper sanitation facilities have caused a marked increase in the number of people with cholera in North and South Kivu. As yet no data is available on the number of deaths linked to the current outbreak, but generally in complex emergencies the case (...)
DR Congo

Photo: Télécharger OCHA - Rapport de situation humanitaire au Nord-Kivu du 12 novembre 2008. Photo d’archive/OCHA
- - -

Symptoms of cholera, how it is transmitted, how you treat it (MSF)

From an article dated 2006 at Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) website:
What are the symptoms of cholera?

Watery diarrhea and vomiting, according to the case definition we are using. When people show those symptoms they are hospitalized, even if they are not too severe, because we never know, they might develop a severe cholera very fast. In addition to the patients that come directly to the CTC, we have a team that visits the smaller Cholera Treatment Units (CTU) in town to identify potential cases. A lot of them arrive in a severe state due to the fact that cholera develops very fast and people loose a lot of fluids. A case can get severe just in a couple of days.

How is it transmitted?

Through the food, but mainly through contaminated water. This outbreak is really due to a problem of water and sanitation. It affects first of all the most vulnerable people, those living in the poorest areas, with poor water and sanitation conditions.

How do you treat it?

Most of the cases that are hospitalized need intravenous fluids and oral rehydration salts (ORS) in order to replace the fluids they have lost. Normally, with this simple treatment they should recover promptly. It is only when a patient does not get better after a few days that we give him antibiotic.
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Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) - DRC 2008 Images

Each day during the current DRC crisis, MSF volunteers are providing specific images from the situation or work done in order to emphasize the conditions, work or simply the situation found on the ground by our staff.

MSF DR Congo 13 Nov 2008

Photo: A child with suspected cholera at the Don Bosco orphanage in Goma. About 40 cases of cholera have been treated by MSF here, where hundreds of displaced people have gathered. However most of these cholera patients come from Kibati. Nov 13, 2008 © Francois Dumont/MSF

MSF DR Congo 12 Nov 2008

Photo: Audio file attached Belgian nurse Laurence is organizing consultations at a mobile clinic in Karuba, Masisi district. Even though it is the first day of mobile clinics in the small health post of Karuba village, it is busy as more patients show up. Karuba has remained without medical assistance for months. Nov 12, 2008 © Francois Dumont/MSF

MSF DR Congo 11 Nov 2008

Photo: A child with suspected cholera on Saturday morning in Kibati. More and more suspected cholera patients are showing up at a health centre in KIbati. The existing structure was overwhelmed and other NGOs had suspended their activities. In a few hours, MSF installed a cholera treatment centre. On Sunday, shootings in Kibati caused panic and MSF was able to evacuate its more serious patients to Goma's general hospital. Nov 11, 2008 © Francois Dumont/MSF

MSF DR Congo 10 Nov 2008

Photo: On the open road in Kibati as people flee in panic as fighting is heard nearby. Nov 10, 2008 © Francois Dumont/MSF

MSF DR Congo 07 Nov 2008

Photo: It rains every day, now. It happens suddenly and people are caught in heavy, pouring rain and thunder. Roads that were filled just minutes before, empty and everyone scatters, desperate to find shelter under a tree, in a school or the local church. It rains for about 30 minutes then stops. The roads refill with people soon after. Nov 7, 2008 © Clio van Cauter/MSF

MSF DR Congo 06 Nov 2008

Photo: A father and his two manourished children, aged two and four, fled Rugari on Monday for Kibati. The father took the children and his wife along with some scant belongings. The walked almost 30 km and now they have no place to stay but have managed to stock their few belongings in a school. They have not eaten since Monday, apart from a few bananas. They sleep outside in the cold at night, and it rains everyday. The two boys, both malnourished, are coughing a lot. Nov 6, 2008 © Clio van Cauter/MSF

MSF DR Congo 05 Nov 2008

Photo: An MSF nurse is examining a child during MSF's mobile clinics in Kibati, about 15 km north from Goma. MSF teams have installed tents in Kibati where they carry out consultations and have provided 60,000 litres of clean water per day to the displaced population. Over the weekend MSF carried out over 100 consultations, mainly for malaria, respiratory infections and diahrreas. Now that other NGOs have started to return to the area, the number of consultations is decreasing. These diseases are directly linked to the dire conditions and the lack of hygiene where the displaced have been forced to live. It is estimated that up to 40,000 displaced people have sought refuge in Kibati. Nov 5, 2008 © Francois Dumont/MSF

MSF DR Congo 04 Nov 2008

Photo: A displaced child in Kibati, around 15 km north of Goma. Following the latest wave of violence, about 40,000 people have found refuge in and around Kibati, a village on volcanic rock. Most people here have been repeatedly displaced and are now living either with host families, in schools or under makeshift shelters made up of plastic sheets. MSF has been running mobile clinics in Kibati, mostly treating malaria and infections. MSF teams also vaccinate young children against measles and provide access to clean water in order to prevent outbreaks. Nov 4, 2008 © Francois Dumont/MSF

Source: Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF): Rue de Lausanne 78 - CP 116 - 1211 - Geneva 21 - SWITZERLAND Tel: +41 (22) 849.84.00 - Fax: +41 (22) 849.84.04