by Monique Cuillerier,
Membership & Communications Director,
World Federalist Movement – Canada
On Tuesday, January 20th, Julienne Lusenge, President of Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development (SOFEPADI), provided an account of her experience mobilizing women in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to a group in Ottawa.
Lusenge provided a very helpful overview of the ongoing conflict in eastern DRC, particularly in Beni, in North-Kivu province. She described the area as largely agricultural — the current conflict has prevented people from getting to their fields, resulting in a lack of both food and money for the local population.
The government’s response has, unfortunately, been a military one. United Nations peacekeepers (part of the MONUSCO mission) are based in the area, but there is a general lack of confidence in them and their ability to protect civilians. Meetings between civil society organizations and various levels of government have been held and some agreements have been reached with regards to addressing the levels of violence. There remains, however, a general lack of interest in addressing peace and security issues from politicians.