Monday, September 07, 2009

An effective way to help women in Congo: President of FOTC Canada Responds to Toronto Star

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Opinion | An effective way to help women in Congo
An effective way to help women in Congo
Sep 07, 2009 04:30 AM

Re: Advocates for Congo rape victims brutalized, Sept. 4

The rape and mutilation faced by Congolese women is inextricably linked to the plundering of the land and the mad scramble for resources that are key to the functioning of modern Western society.

Besides being the storehouse of strategic minerals, Congo possesses 64 per cent of the world's reserve of coltan, a key mineral found in our cellphones and other electronic devices. With a war, such minerals are easily, illegally and cheaply accessed by Canadian, U.S., British and Australian mining companies, which fuels the conflict directly and indirectly via their proxies and allies, Rwanda and Uganda, who control Congo's eastern region.

The $17 million pledged by the U.S. is not the remedy as a big portion of that money will not be directed to local grassroots Congolese institutions and clinics.

Instead the U.S. should assert diplomatic pressure on its allies, Rwanda and Uganda, to stop supporting Congo rebels. Further, the U.S. needs to facilitate a political process as opposed to a military solution. The military campaign in eastern Congo has worsened conditions for women, children and men who are not armed combatants.

Also the U.S. and Canada should pressure their multinational corporations on the ground to refrain from actions that prolong the conflict and deprive the people of the Congo of a just share of the returns from their natural resources.

Bodia Macharia, President, Friends of the Congo, University of Toronto

Learn more about women in the Congo and get involved!


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