Clinton Visits Democratic Republic Of Congo

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday in the Democratic Republic of Congo said the U.S. is “very concerned about civilian casualties, both deaths and rapes, and other injuries from the military action” in the country, Reuters reports (Pleming, 8/11). As part of her seven country tour of Africa, Clinton was in DR Congo’s eastern city of Goma, “which has become the epicenter of an epidemic of gang rapes and other sexual crimes amid continuing fighting between the army and rebel groups,” writes the Associated Press (Lee, 8/11).

During her visit, “Clinton will personally comfort survivors of sexual violence and meet in the town with DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila, whom she said she will be ‘pressing very hard’ to take action to stop the assaults,” Agence France-Presse reports (Tandon, 8/11). “The Congo visit has a sharper point to it than many of the other stops,” according to the New York Times. “Clinton has cast herself as an advocate for women, and eastern Congo desperately needs something to lift it out of its morass of violence, which seems increasingly unsolvable,” the newspaper writes (Gettleman, 8/10).

On Monday, a coalition of 88 aid groups said a Congolese military operation, which is meant to save women from abusive rebels and is backed by the U.S. and the U.N., is a “human tragedy” and called for Clinton “to push for better civilian protection,” the Washington Post reports in an article that examines rape in the DR Congo since the military operation began in January (McCrummen, 8/10).

Agricultural Development In Africa

Inter Press Service examines how Clinton is using her trip to Africa to “promote agricultural development as an approach to food aid which she has described as a ‘signature element’ of the new Obama administration’s foreign policy.” In Angola, Clinton said, “Helping small farmers in Africa is not only about giving those farmers a better life by increasing more local production of food and jobs and therefore economic development in the countries of Africa.” During her time in South Africa, she said the focus should be on agricultural productivity that includes things like new irrigation techniques and drought-resistant seeds.

IPS also reports on the signing of an agreement between Chevron, USAID and the Cooperative League of the United States of America (CLUSA), which focuses on supporting smallholder farmers (Redvers, 8/11). “Clinton witnessed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the project in Angola’s capital, Luanda. According to the document, the partnership will support financial, educational, technical and training services to improve the viability of small and medium scale farmers in the southern African state,” San Francisco Business Times reports (Rauber, 8/10).

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