by Doug Pritchard
CPT has begun a three-month project based in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) city of Goma. A team of four CPTers arrived in Goma December 6. The Goma human rights organization Groupe Martin Luther King invited CPT to join them in their work of promoting nonviolence and conflict resolution, monitoring human rights, and providing a peaceful presence in the conflict zone and in camps for internally displaced persons.
A resource-rich country, DRC contains large reserves of gold and diamonds, along with tin and coltan used in the electronics industry. The current conflict in the DRC is a resource war, complicated by civil war and the previous genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, which spilled across the border into the DRC.
A peace agreement brokered among several armed groups in eastern DRC broke down in September. Recent fighting among Laurent Nkunda's militia, the Congolese army, UN peacekeepers and other armed groups has killed additional people and displaced tens of thousands around Goma. Emergency food and material aid deliveries have been complicated by ongoing battles north of Goma.
Over five million people have died in the DRC from the armed conflict over the last ten years. Armed groups have used rape systematically against tens of thousands of women, leaving them traumatized, injured or dead, and decimating family and social structures. Media in the global north have reported little about this violence or the role of foreign extractive industries in fueling the conflict.
The initial field team consists of Cliff Kindy (North Manchester, IN), Wendy Lehman (Chicago, IL), Rosemarie Milazzo (Maryknoll, NY), and Jane MacKay Wright (Providence Bay, ON). Doug Pritchard (Toronto, ON) is the Africa Great Lakes Project Support Coordinator. This project follows three previous short-term CPT delegations to the region in 2005-2007.