Do you know Kivu?
In the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the heart of Africa, lies Kivu, one of the most beautiful regions in the world. Cropped terraces rise right up to the tops of the hillsides surrounding a lake. With water, sun and fertile land, Kivu has everything you could want for a life of content.
Unfortunately for Kivu, it also abounds in mineral resources. Its prime mineral is cassiterite, from which tin is extracted. It also has plenty of coltan, another sought-after mineral. And now, petrol has just been discovered in the region.
Gangs of mercenaries and crooks of all kinds, attracted by these easy pickings, have been plundering the region and terrorising the local people for decades.
Now and then, people speak out. Now and then, there is a lull. And silence falls again. And rape and massacre resume.
In 1999, the UN sent a peacekeeping force there to curb these atrocities. The force now has 17,000 soldiers.
Bear in mind that these seventeen thousand are there on behalf of the international community, on our behalf.
Yet without any real enforcement of their intervention mandate, the 17,000 soldiers look on, observe.
These last few days, the horrors have reached new heights.
Squads, including the group called M23, make forays into Goma and spread terror in its outskirts.
They all sport pristine uniforms and carry new weapons.
Where have they come from?
They are wreaking havoc. They are killing. And they are raping. They are raping women and children in their hundreds of thousands to terrorise the people. They are raping to destroy. They are raping to tear people’s identities from them. And they are press-ganging the children they have not massacred into joining them.
Meanwhile, the 17,000 UN soldiers await a Security Council resolution that would enable them to take action.
Do you know Kivu?
A tragedy is unfurling there. Right now. With already millions dead and millions more lives devastated.
It is a tragedy that the international community could stop. Now.
All it would take would be to give the seventeen thousand the order to do their job and fulfil their mandate.
Their job as soldiers.
And their mission to guarantee the peace and dignity of the human race.
Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali Center funder, Robert Badinter, former president of the French Constitutional Council; Yamina Benguigui, Minister for French-Speaking Communities; Jacques Chirac, former President of the French Republic and President of the Fondation Chirac; Rosario Dawson, actress; Jonathan Demme, director; Abdou Diouf, former President of the Republic of Senegal and Secretary-General of la Francophonie; Eve Ensler, author and creator of V-Day; Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate; Stéphane Hessel, former French Ambassador; Angélique Kidjo, singer; Claude Lanzmann, writer and director; Federico Mayor, former Director-General of UNESCO; Denis Mukwege, gynaecologist and laureate of the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights; Thandie Newton, actress; Erik Orsenna, writer; Atiq Rahimi, writer; Jean-Christophe Rufin, writer; Mahamat Saleh Haroun, director; Valérie Trierweiler, Ambassador of the Danielle Mitterrand Foundation.