DR Congo can achieve sustainable peace and prosperity

Editor, Congo is a regional problem that must be handled from a regional perspective far beyond the problem of the FDLR.  The miracle yet ahead is that Eastern Congo may indeed become the next corn/wheat belt much bigger than the American prairies. However, it is not going to be that easy to reach this peace goal without the following things happening:

Editor,

Congo is a regional problem that must be handled from a regional perspective far beyond the problem of the FDLR.  The miracle yet ahead is that Eastern Congo may indeed become the next corn/wheat belt much bigger than the American prairies.

However, it is not going to be that easy to reach this peace goal without the following things happening:

•  The development of better educational and economic opportunities for the local communities: One must offer something more profitable than the gun (especially to the younger generations) otherwise the current militias (including the FDLR) will keep getting ready recruits who have nothing better to do with their short and unpredictable lives.

This is the greatest failure of all the foreign (and local) interventions battling over Eastern Congo, nobody is thinking much about their residual impact on the local environment in the hurry to enforce self-interests.   

•   Most important is developing a civilian-oriented PR campaign. The international community needs to begin showing a different and less aggressive face to the Congolese civilians.

This new face must identify with their basic and non-partisan struggles on the ground.

Otherwise every military intervention, no matter how noble the goals will be always read and interpreted as just another high-handed attempt to manipulate the delicate ethnic-balancing in Eastern Congo.

Do not just intervene short term (merely to diminish the FDLR). Develop a ten-year plan instead; that enables you to become a non-threatening part of the local communities.

Donate, “mabati” to the displaced, construct classrooms, hold health clinics on a regular basis, put in water pipes, dig new access roads, hold itorero classes for the Congolese youth and practice other civilian strategies for peace.

The international community needs to give the Congolese people a tangible stake in supporting your peace efforts against the FDLR.

They will need to link up and support an international NGO already working on the ground in order to achieve this long term goal.

Margaret Maringa
Margaret.Maringa@carefirst.com

 

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