Mr. Speaker, I rise to draw the attention of the House to an emergency situation, one that has sadly not gotten the notice or attention it deserves.
This Parliament must be engaged with foreign policy crises, and that must include emerging challenges in Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, is the largest nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, it is facing an insurgency while also suffering from the aftermath of a volcanic eruption and increased violence from local militias.
On May 31, the militant fighters of the ADF killed 57 civilians, including seven children, in displacement camps in eastern DRC. According to the UNHCR, the ADF has caused the displacement of over 5,800 people in the province of Ituri. As a response to this, the politicians of the DRC have voted to extend martial law for 15 days in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.
This recent attack by the ADF comes as the country is still struggling to deal with the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo, which is the largest natural disaster Congo has seen in nearly two decades. It left 31 people dead and over 20,000 homeless. The eruption caused an exodus from the Congolese city of Goma. The DRC also faces instability and violence from smaller local rebel groups fighting for territorial control.
Issues of judicial fairness have also come under the spotlight, as a court recently handed death sentences to 29 people accused of violence on May 15 after a clash between two rival groups. The sentence was handed out after a one-day session in courts.
As aid agencies and the government are grappling to manage the different threats to eastern Congo, we are also awaiting a verdict on the accusations of sexual abuse and exploitation by aid workers in Congo during the ebola epidemic. Over 40 women have pointed a finger specifically at WHO employees, which points to the urgent need for accountability from international organizations for abuses in which they may be involved in Congo.
The multiplication of serious challenges requires greater attention and engagement from the world. As the DRC is encountering multiple deep-rooted issues, we need to recognize these issues and stand with this country to aid and support the people who are in dire need.
If this were happening closer to home, it would lead the news. We should still be talking about it. It still matters. Human lives are involved. The destabilization in the DRC affects lives and livelihoods. It also sends ripple effects throughout Africa, and it has consequences for the well-being and security of many communities around the world.
I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to give the House an opportunity to consider this question in greater detail in the context of an emergency debate. In my view, it is an emergency that requires it.