Free the Slaves joined 22 other organizations this week urging U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to appoint a new special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The U.S. “has played an increasingly central role in addressing one of the most enduring and serious humanitarian and human rights crises in the world,” the letter notes. “Much, however, remains to be done.”
“According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, 2.7 million people remain displaced in Congo,” the letter to Secretary Kerry notes. “Thousands of civilians have been killed in massacres, and women and girls have suffered horrific levels of rape and sexual violence.
“A poorly regulated trade in minerals—a trade that links the Congo to consumers in the United States—allows armed groups to extort funds and abuse civilians,” the letter adds. FTS research has exposed widespread slavery at Congo mining sites. Profits from these mines fuels the ongoing conflict.
“As Special Envoy Feingold steps down, we urge the administration to continue the good work of that office and to build on its achievements through the rapid appointment of a new high-level envoy with a strong staff (and financial support),” the letter concludes. “With such an envoy in place, the U.S. will continue to be uniquely positioned to…ensure that peace, stability, respect for human rights and rule of law take hold in this strategic and vital region.”
See the full letter here.
Read more about slavery and Congo conflict minerals here.