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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs