2010 News Items

20th December 2010
Friends of Quaker Congo Partnership Newsletter 6 - December 2010
from Janet Gilbraith

Dear Friends,

It is getting close to Christmas, so I start by wishing you all a very
happy time over the Christmas holiday. I wonder what it is like celebrating Christmas with CEACO in Congo.

Our committee met again in November and heard reports of the second and
third quarters of 2010. We had received these rather late and had then delayed sending our second payment (due in July) until we had clear answers to some of our questions about the exact ways our first payment for this year had been spent. However much has now been resolved and we have sent the due payment, as well as agreeing that it must have been very difficult for our Friends to receive it so late and we must really send the next payment early in January whatever still remains to be sorted out.

It is, however, clear that our contribution is making a significant
difference – perhaps most particularly to the hospital (which is now enjoying the use of the vehicle we bought for them) - and that CEEACO will not be in a position to manage without our help by the end of our three year agreement at the end of 2011. We are now going back to our Area Meetings to ask them if they will allow us to continue, with a new agreement, probably again for a further three years. So we will continue to need your support.

The loan project has had some problems because of another upsurge of
violence which disrupted fishing and hence trade. You will probably have read some of the reports in the press – there have been more reports coming out of Congo recently and it is good that their needs are being noticed. If you have missed them try the links from our web-site: www.quakercongo.org.uk

The peace and trauma project includes supporting a group of orphans who
live with foster parents. Our funds are used to pay the school fees for 10 children at secondary schools and 17 at primary schools and other activities are arranged for them by the counsellors. More training is being arranged for the counsellors. A peace conference was held in July to bring together people of differing positions.

We have invited CEEACO to send two, or maybe three, of their community
to visit the UK next summer – particularly to be part of the Yearly Meeting Gathering to be held in Canterbury at the end of July.  This
presents marvellous opportunities as well as problems of organisation. It will not be cheap – and we have agreed to pay the fares and expenses of those who come. So we have started a special fund in our bank account for this – a “travel fund”. We felt we must raise separate money for this as we cannot divert what has been given for the benefit of the projects.  Can you help us with this? The opportunity is that we expect our Friends to be in the UK for a week or two before the gathering, and are hoping we can arrange a series of visits to local Meetings. If you think you would like them to come to your area and can arrange for them to visit local Friends and/or the wider public, please let us know. Margaret Gregory of Manchester will be devising a programme for them. We hope this will enable more people to get to understand the problems Congolese people are facing and help us to identify with our Friends there.

As always, we are tremendously heartened by the support you give us.
Please think of CEEACO in your prayers and tell other people about our work.

11th October 2010

Friends of Quaker Congo Partnership Newsletter 5 - October 2010
from Janet Gilbraith

After considerable delay we have just sent off the payment to our
CEEACO partnersfor the second half of 2010. Their report arrived rather late and then there were other delays over queries and people being away over the holiday but now it has been sent, and has included additional funding towards the payment of staff salaries in the hospital, which they had requested.

We are delighted to report that the vehicle we agreed to fund for CEEACO has now been purchased and is in use. £5,000 of what we sent was from a generous grant from the QPSW Relief Grant scheme. The vehicle is a four-wheel drive - necessary in those non-existent roads - and is particularly to enable the transportation of patients to and from the hospital. It is intended, too, that it will earn some of its costs by being rented out for other uses when available.

One of our new group members, Nigel Watt, was in Burundi as an observer for their recent elections and he was able, in July, to meet up with our consultant, Bridget Butt, and go with her to Uvira and Abeka to meet the CEEACO Friends. They were met in the new vehicle and he confirmed how necessary such a vehicle is in that terrain. Nigel visited all the projects. He was welcomed at the Trauma Clinic by the singing and dancing children and was asked to cut the tape of the newly-refurbished centre. He also met the doctor and was shown round the hospital, which seemed to be clean and well cared for. Nigel also sat in on a day meeting arranged as part of the peace centre programme: a day of conversation and reflection with the local community and representatives of the national army.

He also met with three of the women involved in the Women's Loan Scheme and heard how it was going. We understand that the women have had difficulties carrying on their commercial activities in June because of insecurity and a moratorium on fishing which meant the fishermen did not have money to buy their produce. Ten new women were given loans at the end of May. Our last payment included £1,000 provided by the QPSW Relief Grant for the loan project.

The Peace Garden and Trauma Clinic project pays the school fees for 27 children orphaned by the violence, including 10 at two secondary schools. Our payment this time also includes a grant from the Radley Trust of $4,000 to pay for training for a number of the counsellors for this work. The training is available in Bujumbura, which is not far away.

We thank you all for your donations and fund-raising efforts and for your continued prayers for the Friends of CEEACO and their work.

1st October 2010

U.N. report details hundreds of Congo atrocities
from Jonathan Lynn, Alert Net

* Tens of thousands killed, many raped or otherwise abused

* No justice for millions of victims 

The United Nations released a controversial report on Friday documenting hundreds of atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo and suggesting ways to end the climate of near-total impunity for the violence.

The report is an attempt to cover rights abuses in the former Zaire between
1993 and 2003, in which tens of thousands of people were killed and many others raped, mutilated or otherwise victimised.

The period of the report was marked by a string of political crises, wars and
conflicts in the region that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people.

"No report can adequately describe the horrors experienced by the civilian
population... where almost every single individual has an experience to narrate of suffering and loss," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a foreword.

The report notes that at least 21 armed Congolese groups were involved in
serious human rights violations, while the military forces of at least 8 other states operated inside the country.

Rape was used by all combatant forces systematically as a weapon against
civilians, at least 30,000 children were recruited or used by armed forces and government security forces were among those committing the abuses, the report says.

It lists violations of rights linked to the exploitation by domestic and
foreign operators of Congo's natural resources, which include copper, cobalt, gold, tin and the mineral ore coltan used for mobile phones.

Question of genocide

The release of the report was delayed by a month to allow neighbouring
countries involved in fighting in the Congo, whose troops are alleged to have taken part in atrocities, to comment.

Rwanda had threatened to pull its peacekeepers out of African hotspots after a
leak suggested the report had found its forces committed genocide in the Congo. Rwanda withdrew the threat after the intervention of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but said on Thursday the report was flawed and its publication could threaten regional stability.

Only a court can determine whether the violence against Hutus amounted to the
crime of genocide, the report said.

Uganda and Burundi have also protested.
The period covered by the report saw the fall of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and a five-year conflict involving several foreign armies, including Rwanda's Tutsi-led force.

After quashing the 1994 genocide of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in
Rwanda, Kigali's army invaded Congo, where some 1.2 million Hutus had sought refuge, ostensibly to hunt down Hutu fighters who had taken part in the killings and fled to eastern Congo.

In the process Rwandan forces swept the Congolese AFDL rebels of Laurent Kabila
to power in Congo.

The catalogue of atrocities -- virtually all unpunished -- is topical as U.N.
officials have reported cases of hundreds of rapes in recent months by rebel groups that U.N. peacekeepers were unable to prevent, underlining the impunity with which perpetrators of violence operate in the Congo. The report lists some perpetrators but does not seek to lay blame for the atrocities.

The Congo needs to reform its justice and security system as part of an effort
to bring the perpetrators to justice, as its current limited ability and willingness to seek justice for millions of victims is encouraging further violations. "If this situation is allowed to continue, there is a risk that a new generation will be created that has known nothing but violence... thus compromising the country's chances of achieving lasting peace," it said.

24th August 2010

Visit to the Congo Friends' Church, CEEACO July 30 - August 1, 2010
from Nigel Watt

First Day

Bridget Butt, the consultant for the Quaker Congo Partnership, and I visited the Friends’ Peace Centre, which is a long, hot climb up the hillside above the town of Uvira. Shortly after getting there Mkoko, the church leader, turned up in the new vehicle, purchased with QuakerCongo. He showed me round the centre, bedrooms, meeting rooms, sewing class etc. and then we set off in the vehicle towards Abeka. A 4x4 vehicle really is needed on this road as it crosses a number of streams and rivers where some of the bridges are broken and some are simply fords. This was a dry season and the journey would be much more difficult when the streams are in spate. There is no public bus or minibus on this road now, only motorbike taxis which often carry husband, wife and a baby in addition to the driver. The road follows the lake shore and the mountains rise up steeply on the west side.
Arriving in Abeka we went down to the trauma clinic and “peace garden” which was surrounded by children noisily singing and dancing to welcome us. I had to cut the tape (a piece of pink toilet paper) to declare the building open! Most of the children came from Makobeko where there had been a massacre of men, women and children by the Rwandan army in 1998. However most of the children were not 12 years old and only a few would have been traumatised directly by that event, though many would have lost relatives or were present at later violent attacks by rebels and by the national army. This trauma centre has been refurbished with funds from QuakerCongo and the team of volunteer workers there receive a little pocket money also provided through QC. They work hard but extra training for the counsellors is a priority.

We then went up to the hospital and Dr.Guillaume showed us around. We saw the wards, the theatre, the half-constructed maternity block and new toilets built by Oxfam. The hospital seemed to be clean and well cared for, though there are obvious gaps such as no ceiling over part of the operating theatre, so that insects or worse could land in the middle of an operation (and a rat was spotted somewhere nearby!), The hospital is generally well used but there were some administrative problems that needed addressing such as a high turnover of staff.

Second Day

A day of conversation and reflection with the local community and representatives of the national army,
involved in their current peacebuilding (they hope) mission known as Amani Leo (Peace today). The atmosphere was very open although some of the locals were making quite serious complaints about army behaviour. The army representatives responded calmly and seemed able to explain that they really were trying to establish peace. This was an excellent attempt by CEEACO to make peace at the local level.

Time was taken out in the middle of the meeting for the official handing over the keys of the vehicle to the hospital. Both Mkoko and I made clear that this was to be an ambulance for the hospital and not an all-purpose vehicle for the community. I also met three of the women involved in the micro-credit scheme. Some of the women had suffered during recent attacks and security certainly needs to be watched carefully. It seems that at present when there have been minor attacks they avoid the hospital, perhaps realising that it is useful for all the community.

Third Day

We left after breakfast with the ambulance full, including the doctor, whose family is in Uvira. We stopped on the way at Kabekezi to visit a women’s fishing group, not funded by QC. They welcomed us and did a demonstration fish. Back in Uvira we had lunch and got a minibus back to Bujumbura.

17th August 2010

Tragic accident in Sange
from Nick Godfrey

In July we received news of a tragic accident which affected
members of CEEACO.  Mkoko Boseka, the Legal Representative of Congo Yearly Meeting, informed us that on 2nd July a petrol tanker exploded in Sange causing up to three hundred deaths and wounding many others. On arriving at the scene in Sange immediately following the accident, Mkoko found the population shocked and traumatised; many had lost friends and family members and numerous houses had been burnt down.  The injured received treatment at hospitals in Sange, Uvira, Bukavu and Goma.  Among the dead was the only son of the CEEACO coordinator Alenga Msema. Mkoko wanted us to share this sad news and to ask for our continued prayers and support.

For further information please see this report in The Guardian:

15th April 2010

Sponsor Karen Draycott's
'Journey of Discovery' by paddle & pedal power
from Martin Gilbraith

In May, Karen Draycott will be undertaking a sponsored
'Journey of Discovery' by paddle & pedal power, in support of Quaker Congo Partnership.

Please see the poster together with the sponsorship and Gift Aid forms for details, and please support her! Thank you.

10th April 2010

Website updated with a new page on impact to date
from Martin Gilbraith

We have comprehensively updated the website, including a new page on the impact
the first year of our support has had on CEEACO's priority projects - please take another look, and let us have your feedback in our guestbook.

14th March 2010

Charity registration now complete
from Janet Gilbraith

Funds of Quaker Congo Partnership are managed by Cambridgeshire Area Meeting.
Until recently this was a religious charity excepted from registration with the Charity Commission under SS 2007 No. 2655 (Gift Aid No. XR69521). In line with recent charity legislation requiring such charities to register with the Charitry Commission, it has now completed its registration and so is now a registered charity, #1134537.

6th March 2010

Friends of Quaker Congo Partnership Newsletter 4 - March 2010
from Janet Gilbraith

You will be wanting to know how things are going in
Congo and how our appeal for emergency fund for CEEACO has gone. I am delighted to report that our appeal raised over £8,000. Thank you all for your wonderful responses and generosity. We had already sent £5,000 as soon as we heard of the need and we will now send the extra £3,000 when we make our next transfer to them. It is also good news that the fighting seems to have died down a bit.

At the end of January we heard this from Bridget Butt, our link person in Burundi:
The security situation is much improved in Abeka and environs. Shortly before Christmas, mediation resulted in the successful reintegration of the two dissenting military officers back into the national army and the return of the local community to the Abeka area. There continues to be serious security problems on the Haut Plateau, however, still as a result of the Kimia 2 operations. During the Jan. 6 meeting, we received a letter from a CEEACO member in the remote Ekyombo area, describing the ongoing displacement of more than 700 families from one of the CEEACO communities on the Haut Plateau. Some of the Relief funds (up to $1000) will be reallocated to this community, which has been in a state of displacement for more than a year. We will update you, as soon as the Relief committee is able to provide final budget details.

Relief funds have already been used for the purchase of mattresses, sheets, and medication to replace the materials and supplies that were taken/used during the insecurity. Funds remain for the series of dialogue meetings that was also included as part of the project. 

The CEEACO was apparently able to play a role in facilitating some of the mediation with the Mai-Mai in the forest, contributing to a de-escalation of the situation. Additional community peace-building meetings are planned in late January and February as ongoing follow-up of the conflicts which resulted in the November violence and displacement.. A full final report on the Relief efforts will be ready in early March, including details of your contribution and that of AJWS. I will be sure to send you a copy of both the full narrative and financial reporting. Bridget also reported to us that she had agreed with CEEACO Friends that they were not quite ready yet to send us their report for the end of year so our first 2010 payment to them has been delayed. Their delay may partly be because Mkoko's father has died and his attention has been on that.

Meanwhile, we are continuing to look at ways of raising money to fund the vehicle they badly need for the hospital. We have put in an application for a QPSW grant and hope that will help us to fund the vehicle as well as keep up our reserves for our outstanding commitment to the three projects we are At the moment we have enough to pay our 2010 promises but will need to find more before we can meet our 2011 promises.

We are also exploring the possibility of some linking with Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge; and have also registered with the Community Linking Programme which the Department for International Development is running.

We have started a discussion with Quaker Voluntary Action, who may be able to help us find a new committee member to replace Martin Gilbraith, who has asked to be released soon because of the way his own work is developing. He has been a tremendous asset to our group and we could not have got where we are without his help and experience, but we hope someone with a similar background can be found to help us. We are, of course, looking for a Friend, but not necessarily from either of the two partnership Area Meetings. We would welcome any introductions any of you can suggest. QVA are helping us draw up a job-description and person specification, which will soon be available.

9th February 2010

Thank you to all those who gave generously to our November emergency appeal
from Martin Gilbraith

The appeal has enabled us to contribute over £8,000 toward CEEACO's emergency relief and strategic peace-building project.
Please see earlier news items and the Downloads for links to details of the emergency and the project.

3rd January 2010

Sexual violence in the DRC
An appeal from Derek McAuley, Chief Officer of British Unitarians

reprinted with thanks from the Unitarian magazine 'The Inquirer', and http://www.unitarian.org.uk/info/news-congo.shtml 

Derek McAuley, Chief Officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, joined leaders from various faiths to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Great Congo Demonstration held at the Royal Albert Hall on 19 November 1909. That demonstration, hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was a protest of Christian England against the violence in the then Congo Free State.

Exactly one hundred years on multi-faith representatives of religious organisations from across the UK gathered with celebrities, business women and men, activists and politicians from all parties in the Royal Albert Hall to highlight that violence and exploitation remains a major scar on the conscience of the
modern world.

Over the past 12 years the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed the lives of an estimated 6 million people and sexual violence is being used in eastern Congo to torture and humiliate women and girls and destroy families.

The gathering was organised by the V-Day UK Committee to stop the Rape of Women and Girls of the Congo.
V-Day Founder and Playwright Eve Ensler said "What we are seeing in the DRC is a war being enacted on the bodies of women that is conscious and intentional - it is the systematic destruction of the female population of the Congo."

Hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped since the conflict began.
In addition to the severe psychological impact, sexual violence leaves many survivors with genital lesions, traumatic fistulae, severed and broken limbs, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

Derek McAuley said: "In
1909 the campaign against the exploitation, slavery and murder of the people of the Congo led ultimately to the demise of the King Leopold's personal empire. In 2009 we must awaken to the catastrophe that is taking place in the Congo and we in the UK must not be silent. We must use our influence to help stop the horrors of the Congo and ensure the international community rises up to support and empower these women and girls."

The event is the first in a series that make up Congo Now - an international campaign that unites a coalition of more than 20 of the UK 's biggest NGO's plus UK parliamentarians. The campaign combines British and Congolese voices to demand an end to the world's worst humanitarian crisis - an action to address its underlying causes and consequences. The campaign will reach a climax in June and July 2010, when the DRC celebrates 50 years of independence.

What can we do? Support Emergency Appeal to Unitarians for Support from Quakers. GA Chief Officer, Derek McAuley said: "It is easy to say that this is such a big problem we can do nothing. On the day of the commemoration event I received an appeal to Unitarians for financial support from the Quaker Congo Partnership. The Group has been active over the past year in supporting Quaker led initiatives in the eastern Congo, including the only hospital for many square miles, trauma counselling and a women's income generation project."

Fighting has returned to the region and people have fled from their homes in
Abeka, in South Kivi . There have been no civilian casualties registered as a result of the recent fighting, however several thousand people have been displaced towards Uvira and Baraka including many Quakers from CEEACO, the Yearly Meeting in the area. A number of families have also fled to Burundi in fishing boats. Patients of the Abeka hospital were among those who fled the fighting in Abeka. CEEACO has chosen to keep the hospital open, and has elected to give free treatment to patients during this period, due largely to the fact that almost all of the other surrounding Health Centres are now closed and many have been looted.

An emergency appeal has been launched and there is an immediate need for food, transport and medical supplies, and strategic peace-building. Derek McAuley urged Unitarians to support this appeal: "With the approach of Christmas its too easy to settle down into our comfortable homes and enjoy warmth, good food and drink, family and friends. We should not forget people just like forced to flee their homes and living outdoors and facing the dangers of cholera."

If you and/or your Church or Chapel wish to support this appeal please send your donation either to:
"Cambridgeshire Area Quaker Meeting Congo Fund" , to: Quaker Congo Partnership, The Treasurer, Cambridgeshire Area Meeting, Friends Meeting House, 12 Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BA, UK


Send to Essex Hall with cheques made out to "GAUFCC" with Congo
written on the back. We will ensure it gets passed directly to the Quaker Congo Partnership.

This article first appeared in The Inquirer 12 December 2009 Issue 7736
For further information contact:
Derek McAuley t: 020 7240 2384