News / Africa

Actor, Experts Urge Action on Eastern Congo Security

Ben Affleck testifies before Congress on Congo Dec. 19, 2012Ben Affleck testifies before Congress on Congo Dec. 19, 2012
x
Ben Affleck testifies before Congress on Congo Dec. 19, 2012
Ben Affleck testifies before Congress on Congo Dec. 19, 2012
Cindy Saine
— Actor Ben Affleck has urged members of Congress to push for more U.S. leadership in efforts to bring peace to the Congo. At the same hearing, a top U.S. diplomat said President Barack Obama's administration considers security in the Democratic Republic of Congo to be a top priority.

Hollywood movie star Ben Affleck has visited Congo 10 times and has started an agency to provide relief to civilians in eastern Congo, who have been suffering since M23 fighters rebelled against the government and took control of the region in April.  Affleck said Wednesday the latest violence is nothing new for the people of the DRC.

"From 1998 to 2003, eight African nations fought on Congolese soil, causing the deaths of millions, forcing tens of thousands of children to become child soldiers, and in some areas of Congo subjecting as many as two of every three women to rape and other forms of sexual violence," Affleck said.

The United Nations estimates that since the M23 rebellion began earlier this year, nearly 1 million Congolese citizens have been displaced.  Some lawmakers at Wednesday's hearing criticized the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the region, and the Obama administration, for failing to end the violence, particularly sexual attacks against women and children.

James Jay Carafano of the conservative Heritage Foundation told the House Armed Services Committee it is time for U.S. policymakers to take a good look at the deteriorating situation.

"Stop doing what is not working.  The U.N. peacekeepers have been a failure.  Our efforts to reform the Congolese Army have been a failure," Carafano said.

The United States is spending $480 million a year to help the people of the Congo, including training some Congolese army units.

State Department officials say the money is well spent, and that efforts to train the Congolese forces should be expanded.  Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson assured lawmakers that the DRC is a priority for the Obama administration.

"The highest levels of the United States government are committed to helping the DRC and the region achieve a sustainable peace," Carson said.

The ranking Democratic member of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, said the DRC has national security implications for the United States.

"We have seen in recent months that Africa is increasingly important in our national security interests, the instability there has given rise to many al-Qaida-inspired insurgencies," Smith said.

Affleck says that U.S. leadership is needed, but he is not asking Congress for more money.

"Resolving the cycle of violence does not necessarily require significant new financial investment by the United States, or U.S. boots on the ground.  It does, however, require American political leadership, moral leadership even, to bring the parties together to address the larger sources of instability in the region," Affleck said.

The U.S. Treasury Department has stipulated that any U.S. assets of two M23 rebel leaders be frozen because the group uses child soldiers and targets children in the conflict.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Didier from: Gabon
December 20, 2012 2:45 AM
Of couse, the situation in DRC required US leadership.
Since the fallen of Mobutu, Eastern of DRC became a ground of any kind of violence, especially against children, and women.
The UN peacemakers troops presence is not a big help, many soldiers with limited and inappropriate mandate.
Much effort also should be undertaken by US to lead, help or force the power of Kinshasa to have a greater democratization of the national political space.
Democracy works with respect for Human Rights which implies Freedom, Security, Peace, Justice and good governance; but the dictatorship regim works with the Violation of Fundamental Freedoms, Insecurity, Terror, Disorders, Injustice and Bad Governance.


by: David from: Washington DC
December 19, 2012 10:25 PM
Ben Afleck and president Obama did a good job but it’s a small step toward peace and stability of Congo. The World Bank, IMF, G8 countries and mineral&petroleum companies in Congo should invest on the infrastructure commercial such rail road&electricity from Katanga, Mbuji-Mayi, Kinshasa to the terminal port Banana in deep sea which allows DRC improved his economy and control import&export of rich mineral, petroleum and foods. The World Bank said that DRC is too big to build this infrastructure while it does for Eastern, Northern and Southern Africa counties.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid