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HEAL Africa provides holistic care for the people of Democratic Republic of Congo
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Journal on the New Congo Peace Agreement 2009

HEAL Africa program manager, Lyn Lusi, provides commentary on the latest peace agreement in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Yesterday, as I was driving into the hospital, we were stuck on a street for almost 5 minutes by an endless cortege of hundreds of motorbike taxis, - lights glaring, horns blaring, people screaming, to celebrate the peace agreement signed on 16th January between Rwanda and Congo.  Even the Mai Mai have decided to sign on for peace once again.
We sincerely hope that it is true.  There have been no serious incidents of fighting since Christmas. When the Congolese government and CNDP met Nigerian ex-President Obasanjo in Nairobi before Christmas, it became obvious that they had nothing to fight about with the Congolese government, so they went home and started fighting amongst themselves. Nkunda heads one faction, and his second in command, Bosco, heads the other. Both are indicted war criminals.  Strangely, it is the Bosco faction that has signed the peace agreement in the latest round of peace talks; but Nkunda has said Bosco does not speak for the CNDP.
All of this manoeuvering is the subject of endless speculation: maybe the split is engineered so that Rwanda can have two options:  peace or war.  According to the peace deal, the Rwanda army will come into Congo officially, and hunt down the FDLR alongside the Congolese army, and all the CNDP will join the Congolese army (Back to square one!  Do not pass Go! Do not collect 200!) On the other hand, the Rwandans keep their options open to continue fighting as before alongside the other half of the CNDP. 
Some rather sinister indications about what is really going on have come from Kigali. At the US embassy party, the new ambassador appointed in August apparently said that one of the objectives of his government in the region would be to redraw unjust boundaries that were fixed in colonial times.  We can only hope that the Obama administration will take a more impartial and intelligent approach to resolving conflict in this region.
The FDLR militia of course are not happy about this agreement. The only FDLR that can be easily found are the ones who have settled into villages in North and South Kivu.  To hunt them down means more suffering and violence for people in the rural areas. The ones who are really dangerous are in the forest, constantly on the move and impossible to find.  The women of the region, (Hotense Maliro, media officer from HEAL Africa is one of their leaders) have organised together as Sauti ya Wamama WaKongomani (Voice of the Women of Congo).  They held a demonstration on Friday in Goma, and are planning to lobby the Ministers here in Goma for the talks, for a peaceful approach to the FDLR.  There is no space and no future for them in Rwanda; the only lasting solution is to give them space to settle in Congo, and approach them with messages of inclusion and peace building. This is the challenge of the church, and our partners the Nehemiah committees are prepared to take up this challenge.

HEAL AFrica's public health expert, Joseph Ciza, has been pushing to get involved in action for children sent by their families and villages into the Mai Mai militia.  On his trip to Kayna at the end of December, he met maybe one adult officer for twenty armed children. People are so desperate for protection that they are sending hundreds of their children to learn to be fighters.  Please pray for wisdom for us, how to equip the Nehemiah Committees to bring these children home and settle them back into the normal life of a child.

So the message of this letter is mainly hopeful, but with reservations because politicians have their own agendas and never tell us the whole truth.  Continued prayer is needed! Thank you for being alongside us with your prayers.