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DR Congo: Peace Accord Fails to End Killing of Civilians

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There is a human rights crisis that is unfolding today in the Democratic Republic of Congo that requires the attention of all journalists. A photographer working in the region was quoted as saying that ANY journalist, publisher, or news organization that turns their back on this crisis is as guilty of pulling the trigger as any warlord in the region.

Mainstream media is not covering this humanitarian disaster. By some accounts there are at least 800,000 and as many as 1.2 million refugees in Kivu province alone.

After OEN had a conversation with Anneke von Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch in Congo, Friends of the Congo suggested a plan to have a non-celebrity driven independent media group go to DRC, document this crisis and get it out by whatever means possible.

Anyone who reads this has the power to assist in this effort. Please read

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Rationale: Since 1996, nearly 6 million people have died in the Congo as a result of conflict and conflict related causes. The United Nations calls the conflict in the Congo the deadliest since World War II. Doctors Without Borders repeatedly ranks the Congo as one of the top ten most underreported stories in the world. In essence, there is a great deal of silence enveloping the tragedy that is the Congo, and when the country does receive coverage from the mainstream media, it is usually inadequate and lacking in substance.


Objective: The objective of this proposal is to secure the necessary resources for a delegation of independent journalists to travel to the Congo to bring attention and perspective to the conflict that causes 45,000 deaths per month. In 12 years of conflict that has resulted in a biblical scale of deaths beyond 5 million souls, we are not aware of any such delegation of journalists covering the situation in the Congo. Therefore this would be a novel and groundbreaking undertaking.

Goals:

1. Organize trip for a group of 10 independent journalists for ten days to travel to the Congo to cover the situation in the country2. Document the source of the conflict


3. Provide a novel view of the heroic struggles being waged by everyday people to overcome enormous obstacles of living in an unstable environment

4. Provide an alternative prism through which the global community views the Congo in the hopes of stimulating a response that will lead to more being done to resolve the Congo crisis.

5. Introduce the enormous range of issues (women & children, human rights, child labor, environment, resource exploitation, endangered species threat, and more) plaguing the Congo, but also explore the unfathomable potential that exists in the Congo should stability and unity be realized.

Needs: Financial and institutional support to facilitate a trip to the Congo. In addition, provide the necessary platform to assure a wide distribution and broad exposure of the reports made by the independent journalists.

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Background: Congo is literally and figuratively the heart of Africa. It straddles the equator and is bordered by nine countries. Congo is one of the largest countries in the world with a population of 65 million people and is the size of Western Europe. Congo is the fulcrum on which the African continent swings. It has an illustrious history of famous figures speaking out against the atrocities that have plagued this country since its modern founding. Figures such as Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and Arthur Conan Doyle have written about the Congo and the evil that men have perpetrated to capture and control Congo’s spectacular wealth of gold, diamonds, rubber, ivory, copper, tin, iron, cobalt, coltan, timber, and a myriad of other riches.

Congo recently held elections in 2006, but it is still very much a country under western tutelage where the interests of the people are not being served in spite of its enormous natural wealth. The average Congolese earn $100 per year and 80 percent of the population live on 30 cents or less per day while billions of dollars escape out the back door of the country to the coffers of foreign multinationals.

The following is the complete text of a press release by Human Rights Watch:

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http://www.georgianne-nienaber.com

Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)
 

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