more hunger, more war

in gaza right now there is darkness. it is cold, it is raining. and there is no light. there is no food shipment nor any fuel shipment. this is zionism. this is terrorism. (they are one in the same.)

Israel went back on a pledge to ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip on Thursday, turning away critical deliveries of fuel and food at the borders for the seventh consecutive day.

In reneging on its pledge, Israel blocked delivery of United Nations food aid intended for 750,000 Palestinians.

Gaza was plunged into darkness as the territory’s only power plant shut down at 6:00pm local time due to a lack of fuel. Just before dark, Palestinans went into the streets in a frantic search for candles and bread.

and there is war. a brutal siege compounded by israeli terrorist forces attacking palestinians. notice that the palestinians fire qassam rockets in response to those attacks. notice that palestinians die; israelis are rarely injured:

Hamas, and other militant groups, began firing rockets into southern Israel and have continued over several days. Israeli troops then killed four Hamas gunmen in Gaza in an attack yesterday, and Palestinian militants responded by firing several rockets this morning into southern Israel.

“The UN has been very clear that we should not hand the agenda over to those who fire rockets,” said John Ging, head of Gaza operations for UNRWA.

“They shouldn’t dictate whether the crossings are open or not for the civilian population here.”

Israel’s deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, suggested the ceasefire might yet continue. “Without a doubt, it is faltering, but it isn’t over,” he told Israel Radio.

Earlier this week the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, travelled to an army base near Gaza and warned another military confrontation was coming.

“The question is not whether there will be a confrontation,” he said, “but when it will take place, under what circumstances, and who will control these circumstances.”

in the congo, too, there is war and refugees and internally displaced people are struggling to get food. amnesty international has a letter you can send to condoleeza rice about the situation in the congo:

More than 250,000 civilians displaced by recent fighting:

Ask Secretary Rice to support UN peacekeeping troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo

UN peacekeepers remain the last hope for hundreds of thousands of affected civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly women and children. The current force is thinly stretched and cannot effectively enforce its mandate of stopping attacks against civilians and protecting humanitarian operations.

“The United States is deeply concerned by the spiraling crisis in the Congo. (…) We urge the Congolese Government, rebel leadership and the neighboring governments to take all possible measures to prevent human rights abuses by troops under their command. We condemn all attacks on innocent civilians and urge all parties to the conflict to ensure that such attacks cease. The cycle of violence and impunity must be stopped.”

Powerful statement. The U.S. State Department issued it more than 10 years ago, in August 1998. It did not prevent what became known as “Africa’s first world war” (1998-2003), which was centered in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and involved several neighboring countries.

Today, the humanitarian and human rights crisis in eastern DRC will again spiral out of control – if we do not act now.

At least 250,000 civilians have been displaced by the recent fighting, bringing the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from this and previous rounds of conflict to well over one million. Many IDPs remain out of the reach of aid workers, and some humanitarian operations have been suspended because of the fragile security situation. There is a high risk that the situation will escalate into a regional conflict.

Amnesty International works continuously on addressing the underlying causes of conflict, trying to end impunity for perpetrators of the most egregious human rights violations. But, our priority now is to protect civilians through reinforcing the capacity of the UN’s peacekeeping mission (Mission des Nationa Unies en République Démocratique du Congo, MONUC).

A few hours ago, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, briefed the Security Council and stressed the difficulties facing the UN peacekeepers. Now, members of the Security Council must act to strengthen the peacekeepers’ capacity.

We must act to guarantee that hope for civilians becomes a reality, not a sound bite. Ask Secretary Condoleezza Rice for her support to strengthen UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

there is also an avaaz petition you can sign about the congo (notice how no such petition exists about gaza…)

The people of Congo need our help. In recent weeks over 200,000 people have been driven from their homes, and murder and rape are rife. The United Nations peacekeeping mission to Congo has not intervened to protect civilians. As this email is sent, families are running for their lives, stuck between the brutal violence of both the rebels and the Congolese army, without food or shelter – their only refuges are crowded camps which now face epidemics of disease. This is a human tragedy of unimaginable proportions.

All actors need to support better diplomacy, but only Europe can deploy a well-equipped, neutral protection force to be on the ground in two weeks – and European foreign ministers meeting earlier this week blinked, failing to act. If they send a neutral force to the region to protect civilians who are desperately in need, and help put real pressure on Congo and neighbouring countries with UN and African officials, this humanitarian crisis could be addressed and a lasting peace made possible.

The lesson of the genocide in Rwanda was — step in before it’s too late — politicians seem to have forgotten that. The people of eastern Congo need us now. We need to put overwhelming pressure on European and global leaders to step up, so please follow the link below to take action yourself and forward this email to friends and family — we’ll be delivering the campaign later this week to decision-makers and in newspapers. The situation is deteriorating by the day. The more of us take action, the more leaders will feel that their citizens and people around the world expect them to respond and protect the Congolese people. Sign the petition here:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/global_action_on_congo/

The recent clashes between General Nkunda’s militias and the Congolese army are the latest in a place where the population has been attacked and terrorised for years by armed groups. Over five million people have been killed. It’s been termed ‘Africa’s world war’, with Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia all getting involved. The fighting is fed by a lethal war economy based on the extraction of minerals such as coltan, cobalt, diamonds and gold, to which we’re all connected through the worldwide market.

Violence is escalating and allegations abound of Angolan and Zimbabwean troops fighting alongside the Congolese army — Congolese army soldiers committing atrocities and working with militias including the Rwandan Hutu Forces, some of whose leaders were responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide — and the Rwandan army supporting General Nkunda to muscle the Congolese government to fulfill its commitment to demobilise these same Hutu militias. So it is no surprise that African-only diplomacy is faltering, and that there is a need for an external, neutral force. We cannot let the best chance to stop the terror in Congo slip by as leaders turn their backs — Congo needs concerted engagement now. Let’s flood European and global leaders with requests for action. Sign the petition and please send it to your friends and family:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/global_action_on_congo/

The United Nations mission (MONUC) is in Congo to keep the peace between this web of armed groups, but recently it has made clear statements that it cannot protect civilians. We have heard reliably that MONUC are desperate for a rapid EU bridging force to do what they can’t and start restoring international legitimacy, which has been lost through overstretch and perceptions of taking sides — UN troops have fought alongside the Congolese army and are even accused of sheltering pro-government militias.

To have a credible and effective force the United Nations mission will soon have to be reformed and redeployed. In the longer term, the international community needs to be a strong and honest broker to ensure implementation of peace agreements and confront the underlying issues feeding this war. If Europe sends a short-term, neutral force to the region now to protect civilians, it can start to change the terms of this brutal game — providing a basis both to defend the defenceless and to apply political leverage to all sides. Click below to sign the petition:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/global_action_on_congo/

PS: Campaigning around force deployments is never easy and we take it extremely seriously and case by case — Avaaz is also campaigning for withdrawal from Iraq. We are calling for this time-limited protection force in Congo because it is essential both to protect civilians who are being raped and murdered, and to support an honest-broker political effort. We have taken extensive advice and a poll of Avaaz members showed overwhelming support for this campaign.

For a report on Avaaz’s campaigning so far, see: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/report_back_2

PSS: Here are links to sources for this alert:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article5126970.ece

http://www.monuc.org/news.aspx?newsID=18960

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/10/congo-kiwanja-un-goma-angola-laurent-nkunda-war-crimes-fighting

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/congos-tragedy-the-war-the-world-has-forgotten-14023616.html

http://www.monuc.org/news.aspx?newsID=18996

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2008/081107_Mulet.doc.htm

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