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Breaking the Silence on Rape in the Congo

thegreatestsilence.jpg

HBO is poised to shine a light on the terrible human tragedy of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On Tuesday, April 8 the station will air The Greatest Silence, a ground breaking documentary that exposes the scale and brutality of rape in the Congo (view the trailer). The Enough Campaign and HBO are teaming up to coordinate house screenings around the United States. (Click here to find or organize a screening near you.) The following evening you can join filmmaker, Lisa Jackson; ENOUGH Co-Chair, John Prendergast; and the Director of Public Policy at the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Kiersten Stewart in a conference call to discuss the film and discover practical ways that you can end violence against women in the DRC.

In the meantime, you can brief yourself on the situation by reading this chilling Enough Campaign report on sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

According to the International Rescue Committee’s latest study of mortality in Congo, death rates there remain unchanged since the end of the regional war that tore through Africa’s Great Lakes region from 1998 to 2004. By the end of this and every month, 45,000 more Congolese–half of them children–will die from hunger, preventable disease, and other consequences of violence and displacement.

Congolese women and girls in particular bear the vicious brunt of this crisis. Indeed, eastern Congo right now is perhaps the worst place in the world to be a woman or a girl. The sexual violence and rape exists on a scale seen nowhere else in the world as it is part and parcel of the conflict. It mutilates and humiliates. Its nature is brutal and vicious; it defies both description and imagination. Often successful in its intent to destroy and exterminate, rape as a weapon of war is causing the near total destruction of women, their families, and their communities.

Read the full report (pdf).

| 2

Friday Morning Coffee

Enjoy an Egg McMuffin with your Morning Coffee today in honor of its inventor, Herb Peterson, who died today at age 89.

Starting 5

>>Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s hotly contested presidential election will be held tomorrow. Opposition leaders have repeatedly stated that 84-year-old President Mugabe, who has held power for 28 years, is again undermining the election. They claim to have already discovered 90,000 suspicious names on voting rolls. Yesterday he handed out 450 cars to doctors at government-run hospitals. Security forces are on high alert amid warnings by the opposition that they will carry out Kenya-style protests if they feel the election is rigged. The Times reports on the millions of Zimbabwean refugees living in South Africa, some of which may decide to return pending the results of tomorrow’s election.

>>Tibet – Yesterday monks in Lhasa interrupted a carefully orchestrated press trip
by the Chinese government at the Jokhang Temple. The group of 30 to 40 monks wept
and shouted at Chinese authorities and spent 15 minutes with reporters
rebutting what they said were Chinese lies about the recent unrest. The
Chinese government announced that the monks won’t be punished.

>>Colombia – Colombia is offering to suspend the sentences of jailed FARC guerillas if FARC, in turn, frees Ingrid Betancourt, along with other hostages. Betancourt, a former senator and presidential candidate who has spent six years in captivity, is feared to be ill, suffering from Hepatitis B and Lesmaniasis.

>>Korea – North Korea test-fired a battery of short-range missiles today in further defiance of the new South Korean president’s reprimand on human rights and non-proliferation. The show of force follows the expulsion of 11 South Korean officials from a jointly run factory complex in Kaesong.

>>Iraq – Iraq’s government has extended their deadline for Shia militias to lay down their arms by 10 days as the assault by government forces in Basra has begun to stall.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch

The Rest of the Story


Africa

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7318190.stm">Tutu
    wants SA arms deal inquiry
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/business/7318238.stm">Kenya
    in mobile phone share sale
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259135635/idUSL274448520080327">U.N.
    body calls on Sudan to tackle rights abuses
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259100890/idUSL2777845820080327">Kenya
    power-sharing hits deadlock over cabinet

Americas

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7318021.stm">TV
    crew denies passing fatal flu
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/world/americas/28wbriefs-CANTALOUPEBA_BRF.html?ex=1364356800&en=fde4550b8555de7c&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Honduras:
    Cantaloupe Ban Criticized
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/business/worldbusiness/28fobriefs-DEADLINESETF_BRF.html?ex=1364356800&en=d6ff402563bf45eb&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Bolivia:
    Deadline Set for Energy Nationalization
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259375463/idUSN2739888120080328">Canada
    confident NATO will help its Afghan troops
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7317869.stm">Argentine
    leader warns strikers
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3636255.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Robert
    Gates wants list of all US nuclear arms

Asia

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259508080/idUSISL733420080328">Shi’ite-Sunni
    clashes intensify in northwest Pakistan
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7318079.stm">Tibetan
    children in Nepal protest
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7318227.stm">Sri
    Lanka probes ‘bomber offer’
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Indonesia-Poisoned.html?ex=1364356800&en=d7d9bab9077b2756&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">21
    Indonesians Die After Drinking Tonic
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Philippines-Boat-Capsizes.html?ex=1364356800&en=fa81fff301f29893&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Boat
    Sinks in Philippines; 13 Are Missing
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259493535/idUST3858620080328">Japan
    court rules troops involved in WW2 suicides
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7318035.stm">China
    allows diplomats into Tibet
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7317965.stm">E
    Timor leader criticises troops
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7317918.stm">US
    hails progress in Russia talks
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/technology/28yahoo.html?ex=1364356800&en=b47685c50412d0a0&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">China
    Law Could Impede Microsoft Deal for Yahoo
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/eef5b956-fc67-11dc-9229-000077b07658.html">Japanese
    inflation hits decade high
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/259410561/AR2008032703704.html">Fallout
    From Tibet Is Test for China’s Rulers

Europe

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259506200/idUSL268605320080328">Dutch
    relief at Muslim restraint over Koran film
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/world/europe/28wbriefs-JOURNALISTSH_BRF.html?ex=1364356800&en=0b1778e317d1450b&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Belarus:
    Journalist’s Homes Raided
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7317896.stm">France
    flies rebel out of Comoros
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7317897.stm">Italy
    murder fuels ‘mafia’ fears
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259197098/idUSN2736167820080327">U.S.
    critical of “brutal” Belarus crackdown
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/aaf9587c-fc38-11dc-9229-000077b07658.html">Sarkozy
    and Brown list joint plans
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259113984/idUSL2724647220080327">Vatican
    distances Pope from views of baptized Muslim
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258980214/idUSL2779530220080327">EU
    peacekeepers raid homes of Karadzic family
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7316243.stm">EU
    warns Italy over cheese scare
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/business/7316719.stm">German
    plans for maglev derailed
2

Friday Morning Coffee

Enjoy an Egg McMuffin with your Morning Coffee today in honor of its inventor, Herb Peterson, who died today at age 89.

Starting 5

>>Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s hotly contested presidential election will be held tomorrow. Opposition leaders have repeatedly stated that 84-year-old President Mugabe, who has held power for 28 years, is again undermining the election. They claim to have already discovered 90,000 suspicious names on voting rolls. Yesterday he handed out 450 cars to doctors at government-run hospitals. Security forces are on high alert amid warnings by the opposition that they will carry out Kenya-style protests if they feel the election is rigged. The Times reports on the millions of Zimbabwean refugees living in South Africa, some of which may decide to return pending the results of tomorrow’s election.

>>Tibet – Yesterday monks in Lhasa interrupted a carefully orchestrated press trip
by the Chinese government at the Jokhang Temple. The group of 30 to 40 monks wept
and shouted at Chinese authorities and spent 15 minutes with reporters
rebutting what they said were Chinese lies about the recent unrest. The
Chinese government announced that the monks won’t be punished.

>>Colombia – Colombia is offering to suspend the sentences of jailed FARC guerillas if FARC, in turn, frees Ingrid Betancourt, along with other hostages. Betancourt, a former senator and presidential candidate who has spent six years in captivity, is feared to be ill, suffering from Hepatitis B and Lesmaniasis.

>>Korea – North Korea test-fired a battery of short-range missiles today in further defiance of the new South Korean president’s reprimand on human rights and non-proliferation. The show of force follows the expulsion of 11 South Korean officials from a jointly run factory complex in Kaesong.

>>Iraq – Iraq’s government has extended their deadline for Shia militias to lay down their arms by 10 days as the assault by government forces in Basra has begun to stall.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch

The Rest of the Story


Africa

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7318190.stm">Tutu
    wants SA arms deal inquiry
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/business/7318238.stm">Kenya
    in mobile phone share sale
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259135635/idUSL274448520080327">U.N.
    body calls on Sudan to tackle rights abuses
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259100890/idUSL2777845820080327">Kenya
    power-sharing hits deadlock over cabinet

Americas

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7318021.stm">TV
    crew denies passing fatal flu
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/world/americas/28wbriefs-CANTALOUPEBA_BRF.html?ex=1364356800&en=fde4550b8555de7c&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Honduras:
    Cantaloupe Ban Criticized
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/business/worldbusiness/28fobriefs-DEADLINESETF_BRF.html?ex=1364356800&en=d6ff402563bf45eb&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Bolivia:
    Deadline Set for Energy Nationalization
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259375463/idUSN2739888120080328">Canada
    confident NATO will help its Afghan troops
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7317869.stm">Argentine
    leader warns strikers
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3636255.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Robert
    Gates wants list of all US nuclear arms

Asia

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259508080/idUSISL733420080328">Shi’ite-Sunni
    clashes intensify in northwest Pakistan
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7318079.stm">Tibetan
    children in Nepal protest
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7318227.stm">Sri
    Lanka probes ‘bomber offer’
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Indonesia-Poisoned.html?ex=1364356800&en=d7d9bab9077b2756&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">21
    Indonesians Die After Drinking Tonic
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Philippines-Boat-Capsizes.html?ex=1364356800&en=fa81fff301f29893&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Boat
    Sinks in Philippines; 13 Are Missing
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259493535/idUST3858620080328">Japan
    court rules troops involved in WW2 suicides
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7318035.stm">China
    allows diplomats into Tibet
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7317965.stm">E
    Timor leader criticises troops
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7317918.stm">US
    hails progress in Russia talks
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/technology/28yahoo.html?ex=1364356800&en=b47685c50412d0a0&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">China
    Law Could Impede Microsoft Deal for Yahoo
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/eef5b956-fc67-11dc-9229-000077b07658.html">Japanese
    inflation hits decade high
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/259410561/AR2008032703704.html">Fallout
    From Tibet Is Test for China’s Rulers

Europe

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259506200/idUSL268605320080328">Dutch
    relief at Muslim restraint over Koran film
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/world/europe/28wbriefs-JOURNALISTSH_BRF.html?ex=1364356800&en=0b1778e317d1450b&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Belarus:
    Journalist’s Homes Raided
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7317896.stm">France
    flies rebel out of Comoros
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7317897.stm">Italy
    murder fuels ‘mafia’ fears
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259197098/idUSN2736167820080327">U.S.
    critical of “brutal” Belarus crackdown
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/aaf9587c-fc38-11dc-9229-000077b07658.html">Sarkozy
    and Brown list joint plans
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/259113984/idUSL2724647220080327">Vatican
    distances Pope from views of baptized Muslim
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258980214/idUSL2779530220080327">EU
    peacekeepers raid homes of Karadzic family
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7316243.stm">EU
    warns Italy over cheese scare
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/business/7316719.stm">German
    plans for maglev derailed
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Dire Humanitarian — And Political — Imperatives in Somalia

I’ve made the case before that the crisis in Somalia seems to hover perpetually on the edge of falling into the oblivion of international apathy. Today the UN World Food Program, which is working to feed over two million people in conditions of continually deteriorating chaos and insecurity, made an impassioned plea not to forget the dire humanitarian needs in the East African country.

“The international community must put Somalia at the top of its agenda and press for change before it is too late,” said Peter Goossens, WFP’s Country Director for Somalia. “We call on all authorities in Somalia to help us reach those in need and urge donors not to give up on this country.”

Specifically, WFP is calling for $10 million before July, at which point it will have seriously run out of most basic food staples. For the number of lives at stake, this seems a small price to pay.
Not to diminish the urgency of Somalia’s humanitarian disaster, the UN’s humanitarian and emergency relief coordinator, John Holmes, yesterday emphasized that achieving a political solution in the country is paramount to relieving its people’s distress.

“We can provide the means to keep people alive while that solution is being sought, but the solution is going to have to be based on political progress and a different security environment from the sort of ‘Wild West’ environment that prevails at the moment.”

This is the context in which to read the Secretary-General’s report that we discussed last week and in which the S-G laid out possible scenarios under which different forms of a peacekeeping force could deploy. Peacekeeping is in many ways is as vital to Somalis as humanitarian aid, but, as Mark stressed, it too will require a peace accord to be at its most effective.

Meanwhile, the U.S.’s continued support for the Ethiopian-back Transitional Government, combined with its overemphasis on counter-terrorism concerns — exemplified by the series of missiles that it has launched into the country, none of which hit their respective targets — has deeply alienated many Somalis. If the U.S. is committed to peace in Somalia, it must shift its attitude and invest its full support to the UN’s efforts to secure both negotiations and some form of peacekeeping force.

| Leave a comment

Dire Humanitarian — And Political — Imperatives in Somalia

I’ve made the case before that the crisis in Somalia seems to hover perpetually on the edge of falling into the oblivion of international apathy. Today the UN World Food Program, which is working to feed over two million people in conditions of continually deteriorating chaos and insecurity, made an impassioned plea not to forget the dire humanitarian needs in the East African country.

“The international community must put Somalia at the top of its agenda and press for change before it is too late,” said Peter Goossens, WFP’s Country Director for Somalia. “We call on all authorities in Somalia to help us reach those in need and urge donors not to give up on this country.”

Specifically, WFP is calling for $10 million before July, at which point it will have seriously run out of most basic food staples. For the number of lives at stake, this seems a small price to pay.
Not to diminish the urgency of Somalia’s humanitarian disaster, the UN’s humanitarian and emergency relief coordinator, John Holmes, yesterday emphasized that achieving a political solution in the country is paramount to relieving its people’s distress.

“We can provide the means to keep people alive while that solution is being sought, but the solution is going to have to be based on political progress and a different security environment from the sort of ‘Wild West’ environment that prevails at the moment.”

This is the context in which to read the Secretary-General’s report that we discussed last week and in which the S-G laid out possible scenarios under which different forms of a peacekeeping force could deploy. Peacekeeping is in many ways is as vital to Somalis as humanitarian aid, but, as Mark stressed, it too will require a peace accord to be at its most effective.

Meanwhile, the U.S.’s continued support for the Ethiopian-back Transitional Government, combined with its overemphasis on counter-terrorism concerns — exemplified by the series of missiles that it has launched into the country, none of which hit their respective targets — has deeply alienated many Somalis. If the U.S. is committed to peace in Somalia, it must shift its attitude and invest its full support to the UN’s efforts to secure both negotiations and some form of peacekeeping force.

| Leave a comment

What’s In A Name?

alx.buce.jpg

There are two “Macedonias” in the world. One is the former Yugoslav Republic, the other is a province in Greece that buttresses the former Yugoslav Republic. Macedonia-the-country is officially referred to at the UN as the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM),” which aside from being a mouthful is somewhat backward looking. Understandably, Macedonia wants to change this. But Greece is concerned that calling Macedonia, “Macedonia,” would sow confusion and imply claims on its northern province.

Yesterday, a UN mediator came up with a compromise: “The Republic of Macedonia (Skopje).” Greece, though, is dissatisfied. Why does this matter? Because next week, NATO is meeting in Bucharest to consider admitting Macedonia and Athens is threatening a veto. Yikes.

(Bronze statue of Alexander on Bucephalus Museo Nazionale di Villa Guilia, Rome, Italy)

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