participate in the kinds of mass atrocities and killings which fill the

Participate in the kinds of mass atrocities and

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participate in the kinds of mass atrocities and killings which fill the newspapers and in turn cause those in a position to help bring change to throw up their hands. At each step, each Congolese group that puts themselves on the line, at risk and at service for their fellow citizen—is making the difference in Congo on the hardest part of the problem. But they can’t do it alone; the work there is, while not unsolvable, certainly large in scope. Regional actors, NGO’s, local governments, the IMF, World Bank, UN and international community must all play their part. We must do our part. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, it doesn’t unduly burden the deficit, but it does add to the moral standing of our country. It doesn’t require extreme sacrifice elsewhere in government—but it can ameliorate suffering, terrible suffering in place which is, in fact, not so far away. All we need is focus. It requires our attention and our priority. It requires a special advisor to coordinate between agencies, it requires diplomatic energy and it requires a concrete commitment. II. Background
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Since my first visit to Congo in 2006, I have witnessed efforts to improve governance, promote economic growth, and reduce conflict. Unfortunately, despite some positive movement, the record over the last five years is not promising. Congo is moving in a negative direction and it’s fragile democratic progress is at risk. If this does not change, the country risks heading into another, deeper spiral of violence which could lead to more fighting and suffering, and could risk destabilizing surrounding Central African countries like Rwanda—a country that is on its own precarious road to stability. The US government has a long history of involvement in Congo, from our shameful assistance in the coup that killed Lumumba and brought in Mobutu to some admirable recent efforts. In the early 2000s, the United States government helped bring to the table the various forces then fighting in Congo. The U.S. government also provided key funding for Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration programs and played a major role in helping peace and development return to Congo’s embattled Ituri district. Over the last few years, Secretary of State Clinton has visited the region, and USAID has escalated its efforts in eastern Congo, including providing humanitarian assistance through the Food for Peace program. This commitment has indeed paid dividends in Congo. But with conflict persisting and elections coming up, we must develop a cohesive strategy and fully engage on this issue. The US supported the deployment of the UN Mission to the Congo, initially known as MONUC, and continued to strongly support it as it became the largest peacekeeping operation in the world. From 2003-2006, the US stayed heavily engaged—both diplomatically and financially—helping the Congolese government and people find stability. In 2006, millions of Congolese voted for the first time in a free and fair democratic election. Voting in 50,000 polling places around the country, the Congolese people elected
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President Joseph Kabila. It was a period of great excitement and high hopes, and the United
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  • Summer '16
  • Ramon Wawire

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