News / Africa

Advocacy Groups Welcome New US Great Lakes Envoy

FILE- Sen. Russ Feingold, Nov 2, 2013.FILE- Sen. Russ Feingold, Nov 2, 2013.
FILE- Sen. Russ Feingold, Nov 2, 2013.
FILE- Sen. Russ Feingold, Nov 2, 2013.
James Butty
Nineteen advocacy groups and Congo experts are giving the thumps up to President Barack Obama’s appointment of former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold as the new U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Feingold is a former chairman of the Africa Subcommittee in the Senate and co-author of several legislations on the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels and the crisis in the DRC.

His appointment comes on the heels of the signing of a peace framework by Great Lakes Region countries and the dispatch of a UN intervention brigade composed of African troops.

Sasha Lezhnev, senior policy analyst for the Enough Project, a U.S.-based advocacy group, said advocacy groups have sent an open letter to Mr. Feingold urging him to use leverage and incentives to focus on the many concerns in the DRC.

“We warmly welcome Senator Feingold as the new Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region. By appointing Senator Feingold, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama are sending strong signals to the people in eastern Congo and in fact that they deem Congo to be a priority and ending this war to be an important part of the administration’s strategy in Africa,” he said.
Butty interview with Sasha
Butty interview with Sashai
|| 0:00:00

 In their open letter to Senator Feingold, the 19 advocacy groups called on him to focus on democratic reforms in the Congo, and to ensure peace between the DRC and its neighbors.

“We are calling on Senator Feingold to focus on two main areas to help enable peace in the region. First of all, to make sure to hold the Congolese government accountable for meaningful democratization reforms. The government needs to hold provincial and local elections which are long, long overdue. Number two, there needs to be a very serious reform of the Congolese army,” Lezhnev said.

They called for expanding assistance to build democratic and effective political parties, as well as strengthen legislative capacity.

The groups also called on the US to use “carrots and sticks” to advance cooperation between and the DRC and its neighbors, including the use of sanctions and restriction of financial support.

“The US is the largest shareholder in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. So it can use it to help incentivize progress in the peace process. Number two, the US gives various forms of military aid which it can put on and take off the table if necessary; and the US has a sanctions region. So if any official or smugglers are found to be enabling armed groups they should be sanctioned,” Lezhnev said.

An estimated 5.4 million people have died since 1996 in the DRC conflicts. In their open letter to the new US Special Envoy, the advocacy groups expressed their support for establishment of specific benchmarks for progress, noting shortcomings in past international peace efforts.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs