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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora