Tag: <span>Uganda</span>

Child Soldiers Appeals

The Use of Child Soldiers: The Children of Conflict.

Featured Image: A child soldier of the Liberian rebel group LURD at the Po River (2004). By United States Army Africa, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

12 February is the United Nations sponsored International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers.  Efforts to counter the use of persons under 18 years of age in the military began with non-governmental efforts in 1979 – which the U.N. had proclaimed as “The International Year of the Child”. 

Nicolas Hulot, who later became well known in France for his reporting on ecology and the defence of the environment, had written “Ces Enfants qui souffrent” (Paris: Sipa-Press, 1978).  He highlighted children dying from malnutrition, disease, and injury caused by wars and natural disasters.  Hulot’s cry of conscience showed children fighting and being trained to fight in a number of countries in different parts of the world.

Nicolas Hulot

Nicolas Hulot at the Fête de l’Humanité 2008. By Olivier « toutoune25 » Tétard, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.

Concern with the welfare of children has been an inter-governmental concern going back to the League of Nations days.  However, the use of child soldiers was rarely mentioned as the professional military prior to the Second World War had persons over 18, usually the youngest were in their 20s.  However, the German Nazi used very young men in the last days of the war to try to limit the impact of the Allied forces within Germany.  There were a number of films and books which told of their efforts.  However, attention did not carry on once the Nazi forces were defeated.

Building on the NGO efforts in 1979 during the International Year of the Child, in the period 1993-1996, there was a U.N. study on the “Impact of Armed Conflict on Children” led by Ms Graca Machel, later the wife of Nelson Mandela.  She wrote:

“For too long, the consequences for children have been tolerated as an unfortunate but inevitable side effect of war.  In reality, children have increasingly become targets and not incidental victims, as a result of conscious and deliberate decisions made by adults.”

League of Nations

 Image: Stanley Bruce chairing the League of Nations Council in 1936. Joachim von Ribbentrop is addressing the council. By Commonwealth of Australia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The League of Nations and its unused Peace Army.

As a result of the Graca Machel study in 1997, the U.N. General Assembly named Ambassador Olara A. Otunnu as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.  He placed an emphasis on the moral vacuum in which all restraints have been eroded and discarded – a world in which children are no longer precious.  He wrote:

“At the heart of this growing phenomenon of mass violence and social disintegration is a crisis of values.  Perhaps the most fundamental loss a society can suffer is the collapse of its own value system.  Many societies exposed to protracted conflicts have seen their community values radically undermined, if not shattered altogether.  This has given rise to an ethical vacuum – a setting in which international standards are ignored with impunity and where local value systems have lost their sway.  Distinctions between civilians and combatants have broken down.  Children, women, the elderly – all have become fair game in the single-minded struggle for power.”

Graca Machel

Madame Graça Machel at the Sports for Peace Gala 2010 in Johannesburg. By Madame_Graca_Machel.TIF: Sportsforpeacederivative work: Rosentod, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Ambassador Otunnu was from Uganda which had seen more than its share of the breakdown of social norms and resulting violence such as that carried on by the Lord’s Reistance Army which systematically abducted children to be used as soldiers, porters, and sex slaves starting in 1987 but building on earlier armed movements. He was in exile and given citizenship by the Cote d’Ivoire which had appointed him Ambassador to the U.N.  During the sessions of the U.N. Committee on Human Rights, he was in Geneva, and we had long discussions.  He was very open to the spirit of Citizens of the World and the need to develop universal norms so as to move beyond an unregulated struggle for power.

Olara Otunnu wrote:

“Children represent the future of human civilization and the future of every society.  To permit them to be used as pawns in warfare, whether as targets or perpetrators, is to cast a shadow on the future.  From generation to generation, violence begets violence, as the abused grow up to become abusers.  Children who are thus violated carry the scars of fear and hatred in their hearts and minds.  Forced to learn to kill instead of pursuing education, the children of conflict lack the knowledge and skills needed to build their futures and the futures of their communities.   For a society, the lives destroyed and the opportunities lost could have a devastating effect on its long-term stability and development.”

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Congo Apelaciones

Nubes Oscuras Sobre El Este Del Congo.

Imagen destacada: Foto por Flow Clark, en Unsplash.

Por si no hubiera ya suficientes tensiones en la República Democrática del Congo (RDC), hay un recrudecimiento de los combates desde mediados de octubre en la provincia de Kivu del Norte, siendo Goma la ciudad central. El conflicto armado actual es entre una milicia liderada por tutsis, el M23, y las fuerzas del gobierno de RDC.

El gobierno estima que unas 200.000 personas han sido desplazadas. El presidente de la RDC, Felix Tshisekedi, ha pedido la creación de milicias locales para ayudar a los soldados del gobierno. La Misión de Estabilización de las Naciones Unidas en el Congo (MONUSCO), que ha estado en la República Democrática del Congo desde 1999 y es la mayor fuerza de mantenimiento de la paz de la ONU con unos 15.000 miembros, no ha podido detener los combates y es cada vez más criticada por la población local.

The President of the RDC, Felix Tshisekedi

El Presidente de la República Democrática del Congo, S.E. Sr. Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo. Por Quirinale.it, Atribución, vía Wikimedia Commons.

El gobierno de RDC acusa a Ruanda de apoyar al M23, acusaciones que Ruanda niega. En respuesta, el gobierno de Ruanda acusa a la República Democrática del Congo de apoyar a una milicia armada contra Ruanda, las Fuerzas Democráticas para la Liberación de Ruanda (FDLR), una milicia dirigida por hutu. Tanto los tutsi como los hutu están en la República Democrática del Congo desde la lucha contra el genocidio de 1993 en Ruanda. Los combates actuales se suman a la inseguridad de la zona. La lucha también ha detenido en gran medida las actividades comerciales transfronterizas, en gran parte realizadas por pequeñas comerciantes. Como resultado, el precio de los suministros de alimentos existentes ha aumentado considerablemente y es de temer la escasez.

MONUSCO

Rutshuru, Kivu del Norte, RD Congo. Fuerzas Especiales de MONUSCO y unidades de la Brigada de Intervención acercándose a las posiciones de las Fuerzas Democráticas para la Liberación de Ruanda (FDLR) durante una operación conjunta MONUSCO-FARDC. Este tipo de intervenciones que permitieron la destrucción total de las bases de las FDLR y con el objetivo de desbaratar los planes y actividades nocivas del grupo armado continuarán mientras sea necesario. Foto MONUSCO/Fuerza. Por MONUSCO Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, vía Wikimedia Commons.

Los combates han incrementado las tensiones entre Ruanda y la RDC, tensiones que también impactan en las relaciones con Uganda, que ha recibido un buen número de refugiados de la RDC y con Burundi, un país inestable. Hay un inicio de negociaciones Ruanda-RDC en Angola bajo el liderazgo del gobierno angoleño. Sin embargo, la falta de confianza entre Ruanda y la RDC es grande, y sería útil realizar esfuerzos internacionales más amplios. También existe la necesidad de esfuerzos de consolidación de la paz no gubernamentales locales que también pueden ser facilitados por ONG internacionales. La situación requiere mucha atención y, si es posible, una acción rápida.

 

Rene Wadlow, Presidente, Asociación de Ciudadanos del Mundo.

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Congo Appeals

Dark Clouds Over Eastern Congo.

Featured Image: Photo by Flow ClarkUnsplash.

As if there were not already enough tensions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC), there is a renewal of fighting since mid-October in the province of North Kivu, Goma being the central city.  The current armed conflict is between a Tutsi-led militia, M23, and the forces of the RDC government. 

The government estimates that some 200,000 people have been displaced.  The President of the RDC, Felix Tshisekedi, has called for the creation of local militias to help the government soldiers.  The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) which has been in the RDC since 1999 and is the largest U.N. peacekeeping force of some 15,000 members, has been unable to halt the fighting and is increasingly criticized by the local population.

The President of the RDC, Felix Tshisekedi

 The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, H.E. Mr. Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo. By Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

The RDC government accuses Rwanda of being the backers of the M23, accusations which Rwanda denies.  In response, the Rwanda government accuses the DRC of supporting an anti-Rwanda armed militia, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu-led militia.  Both the Tutsi and the Hutu are in the RDC since the 1993 genocide fighting in Rwanda.  The current fighting adds to the insecurity of the area.  The fighting has also largely stopped cross-frontier commercial activities, largely done by women small traders.  As a result, the price of existing food supplies has increased greatly, and shortages are to be feared.

MONUSCO

Rutshuru, North Kivu, DR Congo. MONUSCO Special Forces and units from the Intervention Brigade approaching Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) positions during a MONUSCO-FARDC joint operation. This type of intervention which allowed the complete destruction of FDLR bases and with the aim of disrupting the armed group’s plans and harmful activities will continue for as long as necessary. Photo MONUSCO/Force. By MONUSCO Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The fighting has increased tensions between Rwanda and the RDC, tensions which also impact relations with Uganda, which has received a good number of refugees from the RDC and with Burundi, an unstable country.  There is a start of Rwanda-RDC negotiations in Angola under the leadership of the Angolan government.  However, the lack of trust between Rwanda and the RDC is great, and broader international efforts would be useful.  There is also a need for local non-governmental peacebuilding efforts which can also be facilitated by international NGOs.  The situation requires close attention and if possible, speedy action.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Democratic Republic of Congo - tensions Appeals

Democratic Republic of Congo: Increasing Tensions and Danger of…

Featured Image: Movement militiamen M23 and Type 85 heavy machine gun. By Al Jazeera English, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Despite the presence of some 14,000 United Nations peacekeepers (Monusco) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC), instability continues to grow, especially in the North Kivu area at the frontiers with Rwanda and Uganda.

Le Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23).

Recently, there have been violent demonstrations against the U.N. forces accused by some of an unwillingness to fight actively against anti-government armed militias especially Le Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) in North Kivu.  The governmental authorities of the RDC have accused the government of Rwanda of giving support to the M23.  Rwandan army personnel are said to be active in raids along with M23 troops.  There have been reports by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch making the same accusations based on interviews with witnesses and victims.  Tensions between the governments of RDC and Rwanda are growing, and there is a danger of a spillover impact with people using violence on their own.  The RDC government has been  creating its own armed militias in North Kivu but with little control over their activities.

The situation in RDC.

The United Nations Security Council is to take up a report of U.N. experts on the situation in RDC, but it is difficult to see what more can be done.  The Security Council has no operational control over the Monusco peacekeepers. The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in both RDC and Rwanda from 10 to 12 August 2022 and no doubt urged calm and cooperation.  It is unclear what else the U.S.A. may have proposed or be willing to do.

Antony Blinken

This is the official State Department photo for Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, taken at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 9, 2021. [State Department Photo by Ronny Przysucha/ Public Domain]. By U.S. Department of State, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Now is the time for concerted action among non-governmental organizations and the U.N. system.

The already unstable and complex situation is likely to become more unstable unless there are strong measures by civil society organizations in RDC, Rwanda, and Uganda.  Such civil society action has been weak or lacking in the past.  Now is the time for concerted action among non-governmental organizations and the U.N. system.  Churches and other religious-based groups are probably the only civil society organizations structured to act relatively quickly  before the wave of disorder grows.

 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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