News / Africa

UN, World Bank Say Development is Key to Congo Peace

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim (r) during a press conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Goma, eastern Congo,  May 23, 2013.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim (r) during a press conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Goma, eastern Congo, May 23, 2013.
Nick Long
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been visiting the war-weary city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), accompanied by the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim.  Both men stressed they see investing in development as the way out of Congo’s conflicts.

The front lines outside Goma were silent on Thursday morning as  Ban and Kim conducted their visit.   The M23 rebels who battled government troops for three days this week had said they did not wish to put the visitors’ lives in danger.

First stop on the visit, after meeting the local authorities, was a hospital where the two men met women who are victims of sexual violence and have been treated there for injuries they suffered.

Speaking to local media, Ban said he had been deeply moved by the stories the women had told him.

"I am every angry that women and girls have to endure such barbarity - here and anywhere. This must stop.  And I am humbled by their courage I told them have a strong courage.  The United Nations stands with you, we will always support you to overcome your wounds," said Ban.
 
The secretary-general spoke of the more than 3,000 additional African troops that the United Nations will be deploying in DRC to fight the many militia and rebel groups active in the east.

He said they would be operational within one to two months and would have a more robust mandate than the 17,000 U.N. peacekeepers already in Congo - but he stressed they were not the whole solution to the conflicts.

"The intervention brigade will address all this violence and will try their best to protect human lives, human rights and human dignity - but you should also know that this is only one element of a much larger process.   I think a peace deal must deliver a peace dividend, health, education, jobs and opportunity," he stressed.

It is the first time that the U.N. secretary-general has conducted a joint mission with the World Bank president and their speeches suggested they see peacekeeping and development as a joint or twin track process in Congo.

The World Bank announced on Wednesday that, besides providing $1.3 billion directly to the DRC, it will be investing another $1 billion in the countries of the Great Lakes region.

Speaking in Goma, Kim said it’s hoped this extra money, to be spent on hydro power projects, cross border trade projects, health and education, will underwrite peace.

"The focus is all these things that we think are at the root of the conflict - lack of energy means the private sector doesn’t invest and there are no jobs, lack of health care and education, lack of trade across borders so that people can run their businesses," said Kim.

Asked if the investment would reach its targets, Kim said the World Bank would follow the money closely.  It would not go directly to the DRC government, he said, but would be followed into project areas, and he added that this approach has worked even in war zones like Afghanistan.
 
The World Bank has been heavily criticized for failing to monitor its spending on demobilization programs in Congo, and for being relatively absent from other areas of development in the east of the country.

Kim stressed the Bank is now ready to fund development without waiting until the guns fall silent.

"What we’re doing is something truly unique in the sense that while the peace framework is in the early stages and while the Intervention Brigade is even not quite here, we are moving aggressively and saying more money needs to go into development in the hopes that that will decrease the likelihood of continuing violence,' he said.

It had been planned for  Ban and Kim to meet some demobilized soldiers during the visit but this was canceled.

The M23 rebels announced a ceasefire just hours before Ban and Kim arrived in Goma.    There had been three days of artillery exchanges this week between the rebels and government forces on the outskirts of Goma.  The government says at least 20 people were killed.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid