Our organization works mainly in conflict-affected and unstable settings. Of these, we have chosen three to watch in 2014. In each country, governments are unable or unwilling to care for their populations, the ability of aid actors to respond has been curtailed, and populations are left to fend for themselves.
It is the deadliest conflict since World War II, the epicentre has been called the "rape capital of the world," and it has produced a long list of accused before the International Criminal Court charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is a far away conflict in a far away land. But unbeknownst to many readers, it's also in your pocket. Congolese mineral deposits are invaluable to the production of basic electronics, like the cell phone in your pocket and laptop in front of you. The link between the joy our toys bring to us and the suffering they bring to others is irrefutable. Such a reality should be unacceptable.
With so many international atrocities committed against women on a daily basis, I as a woman in the west sometimes feel that there is very little that we can do. But living in the lap of luxury doesn't remove the sadness one feels when they see the news reports. I feel overwhelmed by the state of women and believe we should act more. This International Women's Day let us educate ourselves and the society at large.
A man I taught to write for TV wins a Pulitzer Prize a while back. This man wins the Pulitzer because be writes about ordinary women and men -- people like you and me -- as if we are the most important people in all the world. The man's name is Jimmy Breslin. He writes a column for the New York Daily News and is all of 82 years old this week.
This week, the World Francophonie Summit was held in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bi-annual summit provides a forum for States and governments of countries who utilise the French language to engage in matters related to the linguistic ties that bind. Stephen Harper attended the conference despite his dismal record in defending the langue de Molière over his tenure Prime Minister. Harper has demonstrated neither appreciation nor respect for French-speaking Canadians, although we form almost a quarter of the Canadian population.
As Harper dilates on the virtues of Calgary, and the United States slogs into one of its dullest and nastiest presidential campaigns between two of its least impressive candidates ever, the West may take some comfort from the relative tranquility around their major office-holders. As dismal as things can seem over here, we should be aware of how bad things can get, and in some countries, generally are.
In the Congo, a small town called Bunagana is falling to rebel troops. This led to 600 government soldiers and thousands of refugees fleeing into Uganda. What does this have to do with Canada? Everything. The DRC is the stage of a violent and bloody conflict that is being fueled by a rush for resource exploitation. The conflict may seem far away but Canada is right in the heart of it all.