Press Release / Dec. 19, 2005

Recent legislation introduced in Senate on DRC

Non-Governmental Organizations Endorse Bipartisan Legislation

Focusing U.S. Attention on Forgotten Emergency

December 16, 2005 – (Washington, D.C.) CARE USA, Global Witness, International Rescue Committee and Oxfam America welcome the Democratic Republic of Congo Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act of 2005 that was introduced Friday by Senators Barack Obama (D-IL), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Mike DeWine (R-OH).

The legislation aims to address and bring greater attention to the longstanding conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The conflict is one of the deadliest since World War II -- resulting in the deaths of some 3.8 million people. The high prevalence of sexual abuse and violence in the region has meant particular hardship for women and children. The legislation requires that the U.S. Government promote humanitarian relief, security, democracy and transparent management of natural resources to help end the conflict in the DRC and move the country towards peace and stability.

"This legislation will help ensure the United States takes an active role in resolving the conflict,” said Cara Thanassi of CARE USA. “The Act authorizes critical funding to promote good governance and the rule of law, while simultaneously addressing humanitarian and development needs."

"Although the DRC is one of the countries richest in natural resources, these resources have been a curse rather than a blessing,” said Corinna Gilfillan of Global Witness. “This legislation outlines much-needed policies the US should implement to promote transparent management of natural resources and prevent arms trafficking and natural resource exploitation in eastern DRC.”

Elections are scheduled to be held in the DRC before the end of June 2006. The Democratic Republic of Congo Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act of 2005 would ensure that it is the policy of the United States to promote and support a fair and democratic electoral process, and to assist the DRC Government in meeting the urgent needs of its people. Our organizations call on Congress to pass this important bill as quickly as possible.

"One thousand people die every day in the DRC as a direct result of the conflict, and people are still facing horrible violence on a daily basis,” said Krista Riddley of Oxfam America. “We welcome the introduction of this legislation as a way to address the dire need for more humanitarian assistance and protection for civilians with an eye towards a long term solution to the crisis."

"The international response to the humanitarian crisis in the DRC has been grossly inadequate in proportion to need,” said Anne C. Richard of the International Rescue Committee. “This legislation should lead to increased U.S. engagement, and help restore stability and strengthen the peace process. DRC requires significantly more resources to save lives and rebuild the country."

For more information, please contact:

Global Witness - Corinna Gilfillan in Washington DC, tel: 202 288 6111, email: [email protected], Carina Tertsakian in London, tel: +44 207 561 6372, email: [email protected]

International Rescue Committee: Anne Richard, tel: 202 822 0166, email: [email protected]

CARE USA: Cara Thanassi, tel: 202 595 2810; email: [email protected]

Oxfam America: Coco McCabe, tel: 617-728-2503, email: [email protected].