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Washington, D.C. - This week's trip by Secretary Clinton to visit Somali president Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) signals the Obama administration's commitment to finding solutions to two of the most dire crises facing Africa today, said Refugees International. The organization urged Secretary Clinton to take action to increase support for those displaced by conflict in the two countries.
"Secretary Clinton's willingness to meet with Somalia's president is welcome," said Vice President for Policy Joel Charny. "The administration has an opportunity to help Somalia address the root causes of its problems, instead of searching for military quick fixes that in the past have aggravated the crisis."
During Secretary Clinton's visit to Kenya, Refugees International urges her to pressure the Kenyan government to provide more land for adequate facilities in Dadaab. Over 300,000 Somalis reside there in the world's largest refugee camp, one originally intended to house 90,000 people. A large influx of refugees in recent months has stretched resources and infrastructure beyond capacity and the Kenyan government has yet to cooperate by offering more land for the camp.
"We'd like to see Dadaab get the land it needs for the hundreds of thousands of Somalis now living in deplorable, cramped conditions," added Mr. Charny. "It is increasingly difficult for millions of people to survive in Somalia, and many are now fleeing into Kenya. Providing dignified living conditions for Somali refugees should be a priority."
In addition, Secretary Clinton¹s visit to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo will draw attention to the ongoing conflict there, where civilians continue to bear the brunt of the violence. Ensuring protection of civilians must be the main priority of the Congolese government and the international community. However, Refugees International is concerned about the impact of “Kimia II,” a new Congolese military operation against the Rwandan rebel group, the FDLR. The operation has led to increased attacks on civilians and displaced many people from their homes. Humanitarian organizations are also having great difficulty reaching the more isolated areas in North and South Kivu and assisting vulnerable people.
"Congolese military operations against Rwandan rebels have had disproportionate, disastrous consequences on civilians," said Mr. Charny. "Secretary Clinton should push the Congolese and Rwandan governments to stop seeking military solutions that only bring more violence, and instead adhere to their commitments towards a lasting peace in eastern DR Congo."
Refugees International is a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises. RI staff members Camilla Olson and Jennifer Smith are currently assessing the humanitarian situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. For more information, go to http://www.refugeesinternational.org.
Vanessa Parra; +1-202-828-0110 ext. 225