They may know its Christmas, but do they have much to celebrate?

Today is my last day in the office for 2008 and it’s eerily quiet. The phones have rung only once all morning, and it’s pretty obvious that much of the media has packed up for the Christmas break. 

But as the wheels of politics and international diplomacy grind to a halt for the next few weeks, I can’t help but wonder what life will be like for the people of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo over the next few weeks, for whom it would be an understatement to say it has been a devastating year. 

Over the past 24 hours, the UN Security Council has passed two resolutions – to extend the arms embargo until November 2009, and to continue MONUC’s mandate in the region for another year.

MONUC’s mandate has also been bolstered to protect civilians not only from rebel groups but also from renegade Congolese government soldiers. 

Both UN resolutions are absolutely essential to the security of the region, but words without action aren’t enough. 

Despite the UN agreeing in November to deploy an additional 3000 troops in the region, there is still no sign of reinforcements being in postion for the next few months.

And so there remains scant protection for the general population in eastern DRC. Hundreds of thousands are still living in makeshift camps after fleeing their homes, women and girls are still at risk of sexual violence and other grievous human rights violations persist.

Over the next few months, Amnesty will continue to campaign for increased and effective protection of all civilians in the region. 

We will also carry on campaigning for the safety of human rights defenders in the region, like Justine Bihamba – a women’s rights defender whose children were assaulted for the work she carries out in the region.  You can take action and find out more about Justine here.
 
Well I’ll sign off for 2008 but my colleague Niluccio will be holding the fort tomorrow – so look out for his blog.

As for me, I wish you Seasons Greetings, and all the best for the New Year.

Happy Yuletide!

Yule E

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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