Saturday, July 12, 2008

My two first weeks of internship at the CSVR
On the 1st of July I started my internship at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, or CSVR. The CSVR is an NGO based in Braamfontein, in Johannesburg. It defines itself as “a multi-disciplinary institute involved in policy formation, community interventions, service delivery, education and training, as well as providing consultancy services. The primary goal of the CSVR is to use its expertise in building reconciliation, democracy and a human rights culture and in preventing violence in South African and in other countries in Africa”. Its vision is to promote peaceful societies based on democracy, human rights, social justice, equality and human security; with the mission of contributing to the building of violence-free societies and the promotion of sustainable peace and reconciliation by means of research, advocacy and other interventions and through establishing strategic partnerships with organs of the state, NGOs, community organizations, individuals and international allies.
The CSVR offers:
· Consultancy services;
· Training courses;
· Research and publications
· Programmes (Criminal Justice Programme, Gender Based Violence Programme, Peace building Programme, Transitional Justice Programme, Trauma and Transition Programme, and Youth Violence Prevention Programme).

In fact, I am working with the Gender Based Violence Programme which deals with women and young girls in diverse ways. This encompasses working with health care systems, the criminal justice system, development interventions as well as initiatives promoting women's socio-economic rights. Efforts to prevent gender based violence are central to the Programme, and so is the drive to build and strengthen organizations working in this field.
In much of the Programme’s work, the emphasis is on the rights and needs of marginalized groups of women, including girls and women in conflict with the law, adolescent girls, women infected or affected by HIV and AIDS, rural women, homeless women, etc.
It is really a new field for me; however, the experience is very enjoyable. I am working with two ladies, the Programme Manager and a junior researcher. I also met a fellow colleague from my department at Wits, who is working in the same programme on a part-time basis. So, I don’t feel lost. I am quite comfortable with my current home.

I have been assigned three major tasks, including updating the “National Directory of Services Addressing Gender Based Violence” by the end of July, participation in the ongoing project on the “gendered nature of xenophobia”, as well as some admin tasks. These include compiling financial reports, preparing meetings – especially one on this 21st of July – for working groups of different projects of the Programme.
About the xenophobia project, we will probably be conducting surveys with migrant women in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg.
There is too much to say, but my time is very limited. I am discovering a new world. People seem to be flexible, tolerant, independent, and responsible. It is quite a lot to learn.
Find more about the CSVR:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Etats-Unis d’Afrique : Pour une mobilisation de la Société civile

Le concept vient de faire fortune au 9ème Sommet ordinaire de l’Union Africaine, tenu du 1er au 3 juillet 2007 à Accra, au Ghana. Les débats d’Accra se sont essentiellement focalisés sur le projet de création des ‘Etats-Unis d’Afrique’. Le projet est porté par le Président libyen Muammar al-Kadhafi pour qui les «Etats-Unis d’Afrique» sont le seul moyen d’éradiquer la pauvreté et de régler les problèmes qui paralysent le continent africain. Dans leur coupon de presse du 2 juillet 2007, Pascal Fletcher et Barry Moody de l’Agence Reuters, notent que «la majorité des 53 nations représentées à Accra s’accordent sur l’objectif d’une intégration politique sur le thème de l’unité, même si certains pays comme l’Afrique du Sud ou l’Egypte ont émis le souhait que ce processus se déroule de manière plus progressive».

Cependant, au-delà de l’enthousiasme exprimé par certains représentants des gouvernements et de la méfiance ou scepticisme affiché par d’autres, il convient de s’interroger sur la viabilité d’un tel projet ou plutôt sur ses chances de réussir, dans la mesure où il faut encore répondre à d’importants préalables. Par exemple, quelle forme faudra-t-il donner à l’Etat à créer? Un Etat fédéral ou confédéral? Quelles relations le gouvernement africain aura-t-il à entretenir avec les Etats-nations ? Quelles seront les prérogatives des Etats-nations et celles du gouvernement africain ? Article publié in "Congo-Afrique", Dossier spécial sur les Etats-Unis d'Afrique, No. de Juin-Juillet-Août 2008

("United States of Africa: Towards a Mobilisation of Civil Society", this is an article published in Congo-Afrique, June-July-August 2008, abstract available in French at

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Statement by the Forum of Congolese Organizations in South Africa
on the recent xenophobic attacks against foreigners in South Africa

1. The Forum of Congolese Organisations in South Africa (FOCAS) held a meeting on the 31th May 2008 at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. The purpose of the meeting was to assess how Congolese nationals have been affected by the recent waves of xenophobic attacks on foreigners throughout South Africa and what needs to be done to help the victims.

2. The meeting was attended by thirty Congolese nationals belonging to various organisations namely Congo Renaissance, Retour au Congo, Congo Heart of Africa, Bourse Okapi, Congo Umbrella, Christian for Peace.

3. Participants assessed how Congolese nationals have been affected. After listening to a report back from FOCAS task teams that visited various police stations namely Jeppe police Station, Alexandra police station, Cleverland police station (Johannesburg), Malas in Marabastad (Pretoria), Khayelitsha and the “Baptist Church” (Cape Town) where displaced found refuge, it appeared that the Congolese community in South Africa has been seriously affected.

4. In Cape Town, 5 men and one pregnant woman were brutally killed with the attackers tearing apart the pregnant woman with machetes and leaving the dead foetus in the open. In Cleverland police station, a baby died as a result of poor material conditions. In Jeppe Police Station, a pregnant woman was refused access to health care. One Congolese national was terribly injured in Pretoria. Many displaced have lost propriety including houses, cars as these were looted or owners could no longer safely return to their former residential areas. Thousands have been displaced including women and babies, children and men. As a result, displaced have lost their jobs or survival income generating activities while children are unable to go to school.

5. In Johannesburg, most displaced were living in the Inner city of Johannesburg, in the surroundings of Germiston, in the East Rand (in the surrounding of Ramaphoza township), and in Alexandra. Majority of them hold either a refugee or an asylum seeker legal status. Some others hold Congolese passports with adequate temporary permit.

6. FOCAS also noticed the delay and the difficulties in coordinating the management of the crisis. The humanitarian aid needs to be effectively coordinated after prior assessment of the real and complex needs of the displaced. Communication between the management and the victims needs to be improved to address various protests in different sites. This is particularly relevant for any decision concerning relocation or resettlement. Many victims in “temporary refugee camps”, including Congolese refugees and asylum seekers, have appealed to the UNHCR to provide for a safer refuge country.

7. Apart from the immediate needs of a proper shelter, displaced people urgently need compensation for lost propriety, justice, trauma counselling, and another country of refuge, preferably one where safety will not be an issue.

8. To address this critical situation, FOCAS recommends:


To the South African Government

1. FOCAS calls upon the South African Government to take pre-emptive measures in order to ensure the long term safety of African foreigners. These measures may include effective policing of affected areas; reinforcement of intelligence structures in communities where such xenophobic movements originated; sustainable education for local communities on the positive role played by African foreigners in the South African economy and society; address seriously the widely shared misconceptions of foreigners; and provide speedy service delivery to black local communities that have grown impatient and violent.

2. FOCAS demands that victims be adequately compensated for lost proprieties and other damage incurred and be involved in the decision-making process as well as civil society organizations that champion the interests of the affected population.

3. FOCAS demands that clarity be made on individuals involved in engineering these xenophobic attacks. There have been claims of ‘a third force’. The public deserves to know more about all the people who conspired and coordinated the attacks. We also demand public trials for all arrested and charged for these incidents.

To the United Nations High Commission for Refugees

4. FOCAS requests that the UNHCR takes its international responsibility towards the displaced refugees and asylum seekers. We demand in particular that the UNHCR consult the displaced refugees and asylum seekers for their long term resettlement.

To the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo

5. Whereas other neighbouring African governments have approached the displaced and the victims to arrange for safer relocation areas, possible mechanisms for compensation or preventive measures for the future, the DRC Government has not done enough to manifest compassion and protection for its affected nationals. FOCAS demands that the DRC Embassy in Pretoria puts in place a special task team that will comprehensively assess the casualties and consequences of these attacks on its nationals. This task team should include members from civil society organizations operating in South Africa.

Johannesburg 31 May 2008

Forum des Organisations Congolaises en Afrique du Sud (FOCAS)
P. O BOX 453 Wits 2050; Email address: