In my last posting I wrote about the Friends of UNAMID, of which Canada is the co-chair with the U.S. The Friends are a group of interested countries – all Western – set up to support the UNAMID mission in Darfur and to coordinate donor assistance to ensure gaps are filled, and to eliminate overlap.
The group, while being made up of Western nations, receives briefings from African countries contributing troops to the mission, such as Ethiopia and Senegal.
Canada’s recent loan of 6 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to the Senegalese contingent was coordinated through the Friends. Canada’s contribution of APCs to the mission has now risen to 24. A previous contribution of 103 APCs to the mission was withdrawn by July 2009 in accordance with the provision that countries contributing troops to peacekeeping missions should provide their own equipment for their troop contingents. Apparently this is a general rule applied to all UN missions, but given how notoriously equipment-poor the UNAMID mission has been, it’s a hopeful sign that Canada has committed 6 more APCs to the Senegalese contingent. But it has to be said that next to the previous figure of 103, 24 – although surely better than nothing – doesn’t look like much. Not only Canada, but all of the Friends of UNAMID, should use their involvement with the group to continue to make strategic contributions of equipment to the UNAMID mission where they are most needed.
Beside the contribution of 24 APCs to UNAMID, Canada is also involved in providing a package of “equipment and basic operator and maintenance training,” for a total of more than $35 million.1
In other news, my work with an NGO requires me to travel to DRC regularly, where I work in both Bunia and Goma. In Goma it’s hard not to see the dramatic billboards around town warning of a 20-year prison sentence for those who commit the crime of sexual violence. One of the flags on the billboards is Canadian, which led me to check out what Canada’s involvement in the campaign against the widespread sexual violence in eastern DRC has been.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has contributed $15.5 million over a four-year period (2006-2009) to support the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Project Against Sexual Violence, which provides a diversity of services to sexual violence survivors. According to CIDA’s website:
CIDA’s contribution is centred on two of the worst affected provinces in the DRC and will provide direct services to some 15,000 victims of sexual violence. The project responds to all facets of the problem: medical care, psychological support, socio-economic reintegration and access to civilian justice.2
Systematic sexual violence in eastern DRC isn’t going away – this is clear despite the difficulty of getting accurate figures on the situation. In light of this, let’s hope that CIDA’s support for assistance to survivors of sexual violence in eastern DRC continues beyond 2009.