RDC : Le conflit oublié des médias

de: afrikarabia

La République démocratique du Congo (RDC) est-elle maudite ?
Depuis plus de 15 ans cet immense pays d’Afrique centrale cumule les
conflits et les drames humanitaires… dans l’indifférence générale.
Pourquoi les médias internationaux sont-ils plus prompts à couvrir la
guerre en Libye, le conflit en Irak ou en Afghanistan, que la
catastrophe humanitaire en cours en RDC ? Explications sur un pays
plongé dans un “trou noir médiatique”.

DSC04006.jpgTrop
long, trop compliqué, trop loin, trop cher à couvrir pour les
journalistes, le conflit oublié en République démocratique du Congo
(RDC) ne mobilise pas les médias… et donc pas les opinions publiques.
Pourtant ce vaste pays, grand comme 5 fois la France, en plein coeur de
l’Afrique, est un concentré de catastrophes divers : plusieurs guerres à
répétition, des millions de morts (2, 3 ou 4 millions ?), 1,7 million
de réfugiés, le viol de masse utilisé comme arme de guerre, l’enrôlement
de milliers d’enfants soldats, le pillage des ressources naturelles, un
Etat défaillant dans le top 10 des pays les plus pauvres au monde…
voici le rapide portrait de la situation en RDC. Pourtant, les médias ne
semblent guère y prêter attention alors que 18.995 casques bleus de
l’ONU sont sur place pour la plus importante opération de maintien de la
paix au monde. Afrikarabia a demandé à Marcel Stoessel*, responsable de
l’ONG Oxfam en RDC, de nous éclairer.

– Afrikarabia :
Qu’est-ce qui explique l’absence de la RDC dans les médias malgré une
situation humanitaire extrêmement préoccupante ?

– Marcel
Stoessel : Tout d’abord, j’aimerais confirmer les deux affirmations que
vous faites : une situation humanitaire préoccupante, et une certaine
absence de la RDC dans les médias. Cette absence est assez choquante.
Une recherche récente a montré qu’entre septembre 2006 et avril 2007, il
y avait 1.327 articles référencés sur la RDC, 19.946 sur Israël et les
territoires occupés, 29.987 sur l’Afghanistan, et 43.589 sur l’Iraq.
Pour moi, il y a plusieurs raisons à cela :

Premièrement, la
population qui souffre se trouve aujourd’hui, dans des zones très
isolées du pays, comme en Haut Uélé, à Shabunda, ou à Fizi. Il est très
difficile et coûteux pour les humanitaires ainsi que pour les médias d’y
accéder. Les problèmes de sécurité et de logistique sont des barrières
importantes. J’ai récemment visité un de nos projets humanitaires dans
un village au Nord de Niangara, en Haut-Uélé (au Nord-Est de la RDC). Il
nous a fallu plusieurs jours pour arriver à Niangara, et une fois sur
place nous n’avons pas vu un seul véhicule de toute la journée. Souvent
les journalistes n’ont pas les moyens financiers et le temps pour se
déplacer dans ces zones reculées. Ils sont donc forcés de travailler
dans les régions plus proches de Goma ou Bukavu (les principales villes
de la région). Dans certaines zones il manque aussi de réseaux
téléphoniques et il est donc difficile d’informer les journalistes sur
la situation humanitaire.

Deuxièmement, les personnes déplacées
vivent aujourd’hui principalement dans des familles d’accueil et non pas
dans des camps de déplacés. En cas de crise, les familles congolaises
accueillent très souvent leurs sœurs et frères réfugiés. Ce n’est pas
une mauvaise chose, bien entendu. Mais la souffrance des personnes
vivant dans des familles d’accueil est visuellement moins
impressionnante que lorsqu’il s’agit de grands camps de déplacés. Il est
plus “spectaculaire” pour les journalistes de faire des photos ou de
tourner des vidéos dans ces immenses camps. Aujourd’hui, les femmes, les
enfants et les hommes souffrent loin des caméras, mais cela ne veut pas
dire que leur souffrance soit moindre.

Troisièmement, les
conflits en RDC sont compliqués. Il est plus facile d’expliquer un
conflit binaire « A contre B » dans un contexte comme la Libye ou en
Côte d’Ivoire que de parler de la pauvreté, de la mauvaise gouvernance,
de dizaines de groupes armées, des ressources naturelles, des tensions
intercommunautaires… Je pense aussi qu’il y a une certaine fatigue
avec la RDC, parce que la situation ne semble pas s’améliorer
significativement tout au long de ces années. Pourtant, ce n’est pas
vraiment exact : il y a des solutions et la situation dans certaines
zones s’est améliorée ces dix dernières années. Mais il faut une analyse
approfondie et surtout, il faut de la patience. 


Afrikarabia : Que faudrait-il faire pour que ce conflit soit mieux
couvert par les médias ? Faut-il adopter d’autres stratégies ?


Marcel Stoessel :  Je pense qu’il faudrait sortir des statistiques et
commencer par parler des êtres humains, derrière les chiffres. Il
faudrait pouvoir montrer la famille qui a accueilli chez elle cinq
autres familles déplacées suite à une attaque d’un groupe armé ;  la
responsable d’une organisation locale qui a réussi à améliorer la
sécurité du village en parlant avec le commandant local de l’armée ; le
staff local d’Oxfam qui doit même réparer des pistes d’atterrissage et
des ponts avant de pouvoir délivrer l’assistance, etc… Le célèbre
photographe de mode Rankin est déjà venu deux fois en RDC pour raconter
ces histoires très humaines, très concrètes… et nous devons continuer
dans cette direction. Nous avons aussi un projet de « citoyen
journaliste », qui devrait permettre à ces populations enclavées de
raconter directement et sans censure leur quotidien. Les réseaux sociaux
comme Facebook ou Twitter ont un potentiel énorme pour mettre en
contact des personnes des pays “développés” avec des Congolais. Il y a
donc des solutions pour sortir du “trou noir médiatique”. C’est notre
devoir moral de continuer à tenter de le faire.

(*) Marcel
Stoessel est le directeur d’Oxfam en République démocratique du Congo
depuis 2 ans et demi. Cette ONG intervient dans l’humanitaire, mais
aussi dans le développement durable et les plaidoyers auprès des
décideurs politiques ou économiques. En RDC, Oxfam travaille sur l’accès
à l’eau, l’assainissement, l’hygiène, la sécurité alimentaire, la
protection des populations et l’éducation.

Propos recueillis par Christophe Rigaud
Photo : Ch. Rigaud (c) afrikarabia

Deal between Kinshasa and the FDLR? – Siasa

On March 14, President Joseph Kabila presided over a
state security
meeting
in Kinshasa, at the end
of which he reported that a peace deal with the FDLR was in the offing.


According to UN officials, talks have been ongoing between the FDLR and the
Congolese government for several months now, with the involvement of a European
government as sometimes-facilitator. The deal would reportedly involve the
transfer of FDLR headquarters from the border of Masisi-Walikale (North Kivu
province) to Maniema province. Up to 1,500 soldiers would be concerned, which
could be between 25-35% of their forces. The rest of their troops would be likely
to  hold their current positions, but would maintain a ceasefire.

According to one UN official Congo Siasa spoke with, the deal could involve the
disarmament of the FDLR forces concerned. This would be surprising, given that
the deal involved Gen. Mudacumura, the FDLR overall commander, who was part of
an FDLR disarmament deal in Kamina in 2002 that ended in bloodshed when
Congolese troops – led by the current head of Congolese military intelligence –
attacked the FDLR, who had refused to return to Rwanda and had begun to arm
themselves.

There has been no official indication of where in Maniema the troops would be
moved. The province is large, roughly the size of of the state of Florida.

For President Kabila, these talks are part of a large pre-electoral push to
pacify the Kivus. His commanders have concluded at least four integration deals
with different armed groups in past months, including FRF and Mai-Mai Kapopo.
According to officials who have followed these deals closely, they usually
involve large sums of money as incentives to the rebel commanders. Kabila will
be announcing as part of his election campaign that he has been gotten rid of
most armed groups in the Kivus.

For the FDLR, the peace deal could buy some respite from the battering they
have received at the hands of the Congolese army over the past two years.

Re-location of the FDLR has long been mooted as part of the solution to the
violence in the eastern Congo and was included (in a temporary fashion) in the
November 2007 deal between Rwanda and the Congo regarding the FDLR in Nairobi.
It is unlikely, however, Rwanda will be happy with such an arrangement of so
many FDLR combatants, especially if they include he FDLR high command.

It is too early and too few details have leaked out to pass a verdict on these
developments.

The UN must put its words into action on Congo

The UN must put its words into action on Congo

Over the last month there have been more than 500 sexual assaults reported in eastern Congo, including over 200 in four days in the village of Luvungi, only a short distance from the UN peacekeepers’ compound. Marcel Stoessel says the admission of failure by the UN to protect victims of mass rape must turn into real practical protection of civilians: The scale of these brutal attacks is shocking. They must be the final wake up call to the international community do to more – much more – to improve the security of Congolese people.

Unfortunately, we have been here before. We need more than rhetoric this time. Making ordinary Congolese feel safe must take place on the ground, not just within the corridors of the UN.

Sadly, what happened in Luvungi isn’t an isolated event. Ten days later, up to 130 women were reportedly brutally raped in neighbouring South Kivu. It is reported that this time the Congolese army was also responsible. The government of Congo is first and foremost responsible for protecting its civilians. Local communities in various parts of the country are crying out  for a reform of the national army. This call must be answered.

MONUSCO’s protection obligations are clear– what’s needed is a better enforcement of them. The UN force must go out into the villages, listen and respond to the security needs of Congolese men, women and children. This means driving across conflict-affected regions, getting out of their armoured vehicles and interacting with communities to understand the threats people are facing and how best to protect them.

This is what protecting civilians should be about. Until the Congolese army is reformed, the UN force  is the best bet civilians have for protection.

An Oxfam survey released in July this year found that women interviewed overwhelmingly felt less safe than last year, in a large part due to widespread rape. The survey of 816 people living in 24 communities affected by the ongoing Congolese military operations against militia groups in North and South Kivu revealed that 60 percent of those surveyed felt security had deteriorated, with women and boys feeling particularly at risk.

Last year alone 15,000 women and girls were raped in DRC, with many more going unreported.

More than 150 women in four days or 15,000 in one year – these are numbers which have somehow been normalised in this long-running crisis and one of the worst humanitarian emergencies in the world.

Watch Marcel talk to Al Jazeera’s Riz Khan about what should be done in Congo:

SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “The UN must put its words into action on Congo”, url: “http://www.oxfamblogs.org/eastafrica/?p=571” });
ShareThis

From OPT to Chad

dear friends,

i hope all of you are doing just fine.

almost nine eventful months in the northern west bank are coming to an end – a job which one delegate is reported to have called “babysitter between the israelis and the palstinians” (jokingly). well, they are difficult babies to sit on. at least it’s a compensation for having no children so far! and rarely babysitting is so intellecutally challenging like it is here…

destiny has found a white spot on the world’s map for my next mission. this is what rumour has about it: it’s in the desert. it’s 45 degrees in summer. field trips take 8-10 days and include overnight in tents. there is no beer to be found. the fact is that it is a sub-delegation in abeche, eastern chad, on the border with sudan’s darfur region. is there maybe some regret that I asked my personal manager in geneva for an operational context, adding that “living conditions are secondary”? noooo……..

anyway, here is the plan for the next few weeks:

27.10. Return to Geneva, weekend in Geneva
1.11.-4.11. Course near Geneva
5.11.-4.1.05. Holidays, mainly in Switzerland
5.1.05. Departure to Chad

hope to see you soon – and if you have wondered why you have not written me for more than a year: THIS IS THE MOMENT TO DO IT 🙂

Marcel
,

Liberia’s Split Families Heal, Child by Lost Child

August 23, 2003, Saturday
FOREIGN DESK

Liberia’s Split Families Heal, Child by Lost Child

By TIM WEINER (NYT) 1036 words

MONROVIA, Liberia, Aug. 22 — ”Good evening,” said the voice of Radio Veritas, the Roman Catholic broadcast service in Liberia. ”This is the Red Cross family tracing program. We bring you the names of children who are looking for their parents.
”Shaka Toe is 3 years old. His father’s name is unknown. His mother’s name is unknown. His last address before he was lost is unknown.”

The list went on, and on, and on into the night. Fifteen miles away, in Banjor, a village of tiny, scattered, bullet-pocked homes, Comfort K. Toe was listening in hope and fear, for her child, another child, not Shaka.

All over Liberia, hundreds of thousands of families have been torn apart by 14 years of war. In the latest fighting, which began in June and died down when President Charles G. Taylor, an indicted war criminal, resigned 11 days ago, many hundreds of children disappeared. Some were torn from their mothers’ arms as the forces of the rulers and the rebels clashed in the capital, Monrovia, and surrounding villages.

The names of more than 1,400 of these lost children, from infants to teenagers, are in a laptop computer at the looted offices of the Red Cross in Monrovia, where a small team of Liberians led by a Swiss, Marcus Stössel, 30, is trying to help those children find their parents.

This week, the Red Cross’s family tracing program, which dates back to World War I, has been winning some small battles in Liberia.

Krubo Toe, a small, scared girl of 12, was sitting on a couch next to Mr. Stössel’s office on Wednesday, far from home. Her mother, Comfort, runs an orphanage for about 70 children in Banjor. All are from Bopolu, a district in northern Liberia about 70 miles away, which was torn apart by fighting 18 months ago. All had fled for their lives.
Toe is a common name in Liberia, and Comfort had looked for her child for five weeks until she heard about the family tracing program and reached the Red Cross workers, who had been driven away by the looting and fighting until a few days ago.
Krubo became lost five weeks ago, caught in the crossfire as the rebels swept into the outskirts of Monrovia. This is her story, in her own words:
”I was with my ma in town. The people were many and the firings were many, and this was where my ma and I parted. While we were running, I was pushed by a boy and when I got up, I couldn’t find my mama or my aunt.

”A man named Dennis brought me to town, and we went all the way in the night to Firestone,” a rubber plantation 40 miles away, where the man, Dennis Fahn, had a sister who had a house of refuge.

The Red Cross managed to get the family retracing program fully running again on Tuesday, when Radio Veritas, knocked out last month by government shelling, came back on the air. On Wednesday, the program determined that Comfort Toe and Krubo Toe were indeed mother and daughter. The child was taken off the list of the lost.
On Wednesday morning, Krubo was driven to her village in a Red Cross truck. The whole orphanage erupted with joy as Krubo walked out and her mother wept with relief.
”This war has taken everything,” Mrs. Toe said, speaking in her native tongue, Loma. ”The children have no food, no clothes, no medicine.”
The Red Cross workers then drove across Monrovia, to Paynesville, on the edge of the urban sprawl, and to the home of Fouad and Doris Russ Fares, who were sheltering a dozen lost and orphaned children, including a little boy who called himself Tutu and who turned out to be Chuku Kpehei David, age 4.

Two months ago, as fighting erupted in Paynesville, ”a soldier boy came to me, gave me this child and said, ‘Carry him, Ma!’ ” Mrs. Fares said. ”They were running away from the rebels’ shooting.” The boy was reunited that afternoon with his parents, who believed he was dead.

In Monrovia, few wounds are healing quickly; death, both slow and quick, still stalks the countryside, where people are still living on handfuls of wild cassava roots, dying of cholera and hunger, and dodging bullets.

In Lower Johnsonville, four miles up a rough road from the edge of Monrovia, Our Lady of Fatima clinic is home to 180 severely handicapped children and adults, 120 young war orphans and about 3,000 people of all ages displaced by the war.

In the absence of its founder, Sister Sponsa, a tough 78-year-old nun from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., who has worked in Liberia since 1970 and was far away, raising money in the United States, when Liberia erupted 11 weeks ago, it was run by Victor Wilson, 30, a Liberian crippled by polio.

In June, the clinic was robbed of $2,500 by government militiamen and by mid-July it was down to its last four bags of rice.

Sister Sponsa, on crutches and with sight in only one eye, is in Hazelton, Pa., trying to fly back to Monrovia. She was reached by telephone Thursday morning from her clinic as a United Nations World Food Program truck with rations of corn meal struggled up the road.

”Even in the last war, in 1990, we have never wanted for food,” she said. ”They managed to survive, somehow. I almost cried last week. And I don’t cry too easily.”

A World Food Program official who delivered the corn meal, Ramin Rafirasme, said far more desperate places than this clinic would be found as aid workers push into the countryside.

”It’s going to take years of work,” he said, ”and thousands of peacekeepers to secure this country.”

CAPTIONS: Photo: Doris Russ Fares takes Chuku Kpehei David, 4, who showed up with a soldier as crowds fled Liberia’s war, to his parents after two months apart. (Photo by Jehad Nga/Corbis, for The New York Times)