another broken ceasefire brings more instability

The Mumbai attacks and Thailand’s state of emergency on its airports are definitely the stories catching today’s media glare.

Meanwhile, life for thousands of people in eastern Congo remains turbulent, volatile and pretty desperate.

Over the past 24 hours, about 3,000 people have run from their homes as fighting has broken out in two towns between armed forces.

Amnesty’s DRC Researcher – Andrew Philip – who’s currently in the region witnessed the mass flux of hundreds of Congolese civilians cross the bridge that divides eastern DRC and Uganda.  According to Andrew’s Livewire blog, one official from the UN’s Refugee Agency said they hadn’t seen so many arrivals in weeks.

The news coming from the region on the whole is pretty bleak.  Yesterday the UN has decided to investigate the possibility of war crimes being committed in the region, with evidence of targeted killings and possible civilian massacres.

Ban ki-Moon has recommended that the UN’s peacekeeping force should be extended throughout 2009. Good move.  Last week’s decision to deploy another 3000 troops in the troubled region of North Kivu was also a good decision.  

But for me the old adage ‘actions speak louder than words’ really rings true.  And these troops need to be on the ground in weeks, not months. While debates continue about providing protection for the people of eastern Congo, thousands are still living in insecurity.

Was former UN senior official – Jan Egeland – accurate in his suggestion that the reluctance to deploy troops to conflict-ravaged eastern Congo because of ‘in-built discrimination’ against Africa? 

Whatever you think of Egeland’s comments, the fact of the matter is that troops needs to be on the ground now. Yesterday’s demo outside Downing Street summed it up.  Time is running out for the people of DRC.  It’s time for the world leaders to act.

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