The beleaguered people of North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo are justifiably angry. Despite the international community’s $500 million investment in 2006 elections and the world’s largest United Nations peacekeeping mission (costing more than $1 billion per year), the current round of fighting is the most destructive since 2005 and the latest chapter in more than 12 years of near continuous warfare.
For civilians ensnared by violence, the recent announcement of 3,000 additional United Nations peacekeepers is cold comfort, and high-profile stopovers by international diplomats and front-page headlines have changed few of the facts on the ground. The belated appointment of former Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo as U.N. special envoy and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa as Great Lakes mediator are positive steps, as both bring the necessary gravitas to energize a moribund peace process. For Obasanjo and Mkapa to succeed, however, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union (among others) must deploy full-time, field-based senior envoys to support mediation efforts and muster the political will and resources to support a sustained and comprehensive effort to secure a lasting political solution to local, national, and international dimensions of the crisis.
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Eileen Read, Associate Director of Press Relations, Enough Project