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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More