Friday, October 31, 2008

Congo crisis - AFSC staff update

Yesterday I was planning to send a regularly scheduled update to you all. Instead I found myself reading e-mails from friends in the eastern DRC whose families or they themselves were fleeing the violence, pulling together news reports for our staff inside Bukavu, and planning for a statement from AFSC. At the same time, two bombings in Puntland and Somaliland of greater Somali also forced many NGOs to begin pulling out staffs in the regions that were formerly seen as the most safe areas in which to work. We have many colleagues affected by these attacks not to mention the implications on millions of people in Somalia.

So, instead of sending you a long update today I will just ask you to please think and pray for the people in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions. There is war to a greater scale then there has been in many years in the eastern DRC. The UN with limited troops in its peacekeeping force is working to protect civilians at the same time as many civilians are so upset it is not doing more and blocking its convoys and in some cases attacking its bases. The national army FARDC which has a terrible human rights record to begin with has been seen looting houses and retreating, causing even more fear among the population. Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing in all directions and violence is continuing to a great extent. I obviously can not get into all the details of who is arming whom and which foriegn governments are behind the hostilities, but let's just say that the continued of arming of rebels and government forces is creating major problems and the civilian population continues to suffer to unprecedented scales. World Food Program convoys have been halted and are unable to deliver enormous quantities of food. internally displaced people are fleeing from one camp to another or sleeping on the sides of roads or in wooded areas.

Please be thinking of and praying for the population in which there are many Quakers, peaceworkers, friends of mine and friends of friends. For the aid workers, the people caught in the senseless killing, the government leaders, the UN envoys, the governments of the world who arm, and the corporations who pillage.

I hate to be spreading the perception of Africa as a war zone or starving babies. This is a beautiful place with wonderful people who are searching and working for peace. But right now many in the region I know best are fleeing or stuck in their homes. And they need your prayers.

To all those whose stories are untold but who are witnessing to peace!

Anna Crumley-Effinger
Earlham grad and
AFSC Field Staff – Nairobi, Kenya

I am attaching an update from the coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative with which I volunteer. I have lots I could say on this subject as well, but I want to highlight the section: "When you see all those pictures of people fleeing with goods on their heads, where will the women sleep tonight?"

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