Eleven African countries sign peace deal to stabilise the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week to oversee the signing of a UN peace deal that would put forth the interests of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The deal aims to bring stability to the troubled region where for many years it has suffered persistent violence by armed rebel groups that use rape as a weapon of war. 800,000 people have been displaced since May last year when the rebel M23 group took up arms against the Congolese government.

©Tim Freccia/EPA

M23 rebels in Goma, eastern DR Congo ©Tim Freccia/EPA

The eleven African nations including the DR Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Angola, South Sudan, Tanzania and South Africa signed the accord which Mr Ban said he hoped would bring “an era of peace and stability” to the region. The agreement may also lead to the establishment of a special UN intervention brigade in the east of the country, where the main trouble is.

The DR Congo has a long history of conflict with the majority of the focus being the country’s mineral wealth. Surrounding countries, Congolese armed groups and some even say, the government, have all profited from the riches made from gold and other minerals with little to nothing being spent on the infrastructure of the country.

Ban Ki-moon with the eleven African leaders at the signing.

Ban Ki-moon with African leaders at the signing.

The president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, was present at the signing. He said, “A heavy burden of responsibility falls on the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours. Theirs is the historic task of freeing the people of the DRC and the region from tortuous history of conflict and instability, and to introduce a new future offering democracy, peace, stability progress and prosperity.”


World Humanitarian Day

Beyoncé – World Humanitarian Day 2012 Campaign Message

Go forth and make the world less miserable.” – Robin Needham

This Sunday, the 19th August, will mark World Humanitarian Day, a day of global celebration about people helping people. The focus for this year’s celebration is a campaign called “I Was Here“.

It’s named after a song written by Diane Warren and performed by Beyoncé Knowles, who is also the face of the campaign in 2012. She filmed the video for ‘I Was Here’ just a few weeks ago at the UN general assembly and will premiere it to a global audience on Sunday.

World Humanitarian Day marks the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, in which 22 UN staff were killed. It honours all of those who have died in the field and those who continue to dedicate their lives bringing assistance to millions of disadvantaged people worldwide.

Every year disasters such as drought, earthquakes and flooding cause immense suffering for millions of people, usually the world’s poorest. Humanitarian aid workers provide life-saving assistance to those people regardless of race, sex, religion or any other factor and do an incredibly important job.

It is hoped that by recruiting Beyoncé to the campaign it will shine the spotlight on humanitarian work around the world and also encourage people to get involved by helping others in even the smallest of ways.

Their motto this year is ‘do something good somewhere for someone else’ and here are their suggestions:

  • Help someone with their shopping
  • Make a homeless person a sandwich
  • Donate your skills to a community project
  • Stand up for someone being picked on
  • Visit an elderly person
  • Cook a meal for a new mum
  • Comfort someone in hospital
  • Volunteer at a local charity
  • Give away something you don’t use
  • Mow your neighbour’s lawn
  • Tutor a disadvantaged young person
  • Clean up your local park

“I was definitely attracted to raising awareness of this day of recognition,” Beyoncé told CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. “I found out that 22 people lost their lives helping people in Baghdad and I thought it was such an incredible thing to turn that into something positive and try to include the world in doing something great for someone else.

Beyoncé performing I Was Here at the UN

“I Was Here says I want to leave my footprints in the sands of time, and it’s basically all of our dreams [about] leaving our mark on the world. We all want to know that our life meant something and that we did something for someone else and that we spread positivity, no matter how big or how small, so the song is perfect for Humanitarian Day. And I think for the UN to want to include the whole world was something important, and that’s what I represent.”


Robin Needham, 51, spent over 30 years as a charity leader in some of the poorest places in Africa and Asia. He worked in refugee camps around the globe, for Mother Teresa and for charities including UNICEF, Concern and CARE. He was particularly interested in the needs of children and on conflict resolution and used this interest to prepare a Watchlist report detailing the impact of conflict in Nepal on children.

Robin Needham © Nepal Times

Robin was working as the head of CARE Nepal, when in December, 2004, he went on a well deserved holiday with his family to Phuket, Thailand.  Having spent time in countries with earthquake risks he knew when he felt tremors to go down to the beach to warn people away from the shoreline. This was where Robin was last seen alive because along with over 230,000 people, he was killed by the Indian Ocean Tsunami on Boxing Day that year. His body was found three days later. All of his family survived.

During his time as the head of CARE Nepal, Robin led projects in women’s rights, education and healthcare. After news of his death, 108,000 butter lamps were lit in his honour in Kathmandu, showing just how much the people of Nepal loved him. Years previously Robin had struggled to organise the lighting of 50,000 lamps for a peace vigil on the eve of the invasion of Iraq.

“Go forth and make the world less miserable” was a quote written by Robin. It was found scribbled on a scrap of paper on his desk in Kathmandu just days after his death.

Robin dedicated his life to helping those less fortunate. He may not be an international pop star like Beyoncé, but he serves as a huge inspiration to not just humanitarian aid workers around the world but to us all.

“This year’s World Humanitarian Day presents an historic opportunity to bring together one billion people from around the world to advance a powerful and proactive idea: People Helping People. That is the best way to honour the many fallen aid workers we mourn today, and to celebrate the efforts of others who carry on their noble mission by rushing assistance to those who are suffering.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Get Involved / Read More

http://www.whd-iwashere.org/ – I Was Here campaign to get people to ‘do something good somewhere for someone else’

CARE International – CARE was founded to help survivors of the Second World War and is now active in more than 70 countries. Their mission is to create lasting change in poor communities and we put money where it is needed most.

Watchlist – http://watchlist.org/ – The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict strives to protect children in war zones.