Friday, October 31, 2008 AFSC Statement on DRC
Africa Region

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is deeply distressed by the renewed violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is threatening the lives of millions of people in the North and South Kivu.  The fighting between various armed groups is forcing hundreds of thousands to flee and recent attacks are endangering the work of humanitarian actors.   

The impact of the violent conflict on civilians is of the upmost concern to the American Friends Service Committee and its partners.  The most recent hostilities north of Goma threaten the lives of the Congolese and neighboring peoples to an alarming extent. Many aid workers have had to suspend operations, leaving many without water, food, and sanitation.

AFSC remains committed to the transforming power of nonviolence.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the people in the region and we hope for a speedy end to the current wave of violence.  

To this end, AFSC calls on all parties to the conflict, including governments to immediately:

  1. Cease violent attacks and participation in forced displacement, killings, and all forms of sexual and gender-based violence.
  2. Come to the negotiation table to begin dialogue aimed at forging new peaceful, non-military solutions that build upon the previously signed agreements and accords.
  3. Allow unfettered access for humanitarian relief assistance to civilians who have been forced to flee their homes and communities.

We also call on the international community, including African regional bodies and the United Nations to:

  1. Immediately appoint a high level diplomatic representative to play a leadership role and facilitate  political negotiations and dialogue.
  2. Increase efforts to find long-term and non-military solutions in the eastern DRC, including an increase in civilian capacities on the ground to undertake important work in areas such as  community policing, justice and reconciliation, and broad-based development.

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The American Friends Service Committee has recently supported reconciliation and relief work in the area of North Kivu in the DRC to address the ongoing violence in many forms that has plagued the region for years. AFSC is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

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Comments from Dereje Wordofa, Africa Regional Director, American Friends Service Committee

“The current crisis is catastrophic for Africa. It is also a call for the Africa Union and International Community to renew their efforts to address the source of the conflict. The solution is political one, and it must be resolved peacefully through dialogue.” 

“What is now desperately need is not deployment of more troops to the region, but increased capacity for diplomatic work, and emergency humanitarian relief assistance for people who were forced to flee.”