Montreal, October 31, 2008 - Development and Peace calls for the support of the public as it responds to the flare of violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The advance of an armed group led by rebel leader Laurent Nkunda and the ensuing fighting against government forces and the United Nations Mission in the Congo (MONUC) has caused panic amongst inhabitants of Goma and of the Masisi and Rutshuru territories, many of which are already displaced from previous conflict.
"We are extremely concerned that a lack of international action could lead to renewed war in the region, which between 1998 and 2008 killed more than 5 million Congolese civilians," says Serge Blais, Program Officer for the Democratic Republic of the Congo at Development and Peace.
Development and Peace is asking the Canadian government to support international action that will maintain peace in the Congo and in the region and protect the millions of civilians caught in the crossfire.
In partnership with Caritas Internationalis, the organization has already sent $50,000 for an emergency relief project aimed at providing aid items to 90,000 homeless civilians in eastern Congo.
"Urgent action is necessary for the displaced Congolese", adds Serge Blais. "The civilian population must be freed from the control of the armed groups that terrorise them. An emergency international force must be rolled out in order to ensure the protection of the civilian population and end the threat posed by the two main militias in the country - the National Congress for the Defence of the People and the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda."
In its appeal, Development and Peace joins voices with the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo and the Great Lakes Region Issue Table.
Development and Peace has worked with local organizations to build peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1997.
Contributions can be made by telephone (1 888 664-3387), online at www.devp.org, or sent by cheque (marked "Emergency: Congo") to the following address:
Development and Peace
1425, René-Lévesque Blvd. West, 3rd floor
Montreal (Quebec) H3G 1T7