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Just How Serious is the Situation in the DRC in DC?

By Scott A Morgan

We have seen the Statements by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice regarding the horrific rapes that occurred earlier this month in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is a investigation underway by the United Nations regarding the actions taken by the Peacekeepers. But what of the United States itself?

In several instances the rhetoric by the decision makers do not match the actions or lack thereof that have been taken to alleviate the suffering inside the Congo. On the surface itself it appears that not only is the Administration partly to blame but also some of the blame can be directed at the Pentagon and Congress itself.

After the report of the rapes, Several Activist Groups have stated that when Secretary of State Clinton announced that the US was allocating $47 Million for assisting victims of Sexual Assaults that $30 Million was mostly spent. What is even more of a reason for concern is that the amount quoted was allocated in the FY09 Budget by the outgoing Bush Administration. So why would you promise money that already promised? Unless you were clarifying what the US has done and is doing. Better yet it would be nice what was allocated for FY 10 and FY 11.

Going through some of the numbers brings about some interesting questions as well. It is great to see how grants have been allocated to train the Police of the Democratic Republic of the Congo about how to preserve and collect evidence, and to investigate these matters. Giving the victims access to Legal Aid in these matters is excellent as well. However there were very few specifics given about how the monies allocated for Treatment have been spent as well. Another area of concern is that one Grant for the Police to preserve and protect evidence is due to expire in 2011. This grant needs to be extended.

At this time there is not a sitting Ambassador from the United States to the Democratic Republic of the Congo either. In June President Obama nominated James Entwistle of Virginia to be the next Ambassador to Kinshasa. With the events that have been occurring in the Country and the lack of movement by the US Senate to Confirm this nominee it makes one wonder if the DRC is of serious concern in Washington.

Another Area of concern is the lack of Enforcement of Public Law 109-456. This law which is known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act entered into Law when signed by President Bush but has not been enforced since. One Key Area that needs to be enforced is the appointing of a Special Envoy to the region. There is an “acting” envoy but other parts such as withholding funds to countries destabilizing the DRC such as Rwanda and Uganda are not being enforced. As Homer Simpson would say “D'oh”.

At this time the US Military is conducting training for Elements of the Congolese Army to respect Human Rights. It is indeed possible by the end of the year that a Covert Operation against the LRA could Operate on Congolese Soil. This appears to be a Cookie Cutter Solution imposed by an outside force.

The Congolese People deserve better from the United States………