This blogpost was co-authored by Raise Hope for Congo Assistant Campaign Manager Alex Hellmuth and STAND National Student Director Mickey Jackson.
Yesterday, hundreds of students across the country, and around the world, took time out of their day to call the White House. The students raised their voices to ask for greater U.S. involvement in Congo's peace process, and specifically, for the appointment of a presidential envoy to coordinate the U.S. government's response to the conflict in eastern Congo. Since April, the M23 rebellion has wreaked havoc on the eastern Congolese population and displaced over 600,000 people. Recent reports note there is a rise in sexual violence in North Kivu due to the heavy movements and presence of militias.
The action was co-sponsored by the Conflict-free Campus Initiative and STAND. This call-in day builds off of the Vote4Congo campaign in November when students sent in photos holding signs that read "I'm voting for Congo" to show that no matter who was elected as President, the conflict in Congo had to be made a priority. Over 400 photos were collected and made into an Instagram petition that was delivered to the White House earlier this January.
By appointing an envoy, President Obama can help ensure that the peace talks, which lack transparency and the involvement of the international community, include all the appropriate actors and address the short-term needs for peace and long-term systemic drivers of conflict in the region. Additionally, a presidential envoy would ideally be a high-level individual with experience and relationships in the region, and could ...[view whole blog post ]