Archive for July, 2011

News to Know

This week’s must-read news stories 


U.N. Cites Congo Officers in Rape Inquiry
A UN report says the Congolese military is not fully cooperating in the investigation and called for two colonels blocking the inquiry to stand trial if the attackers are not identified. Full Story Here…

Congo Asks U.S. to Use OECD Guidance for Conflict-Mineral Rules
July 28, 2011 BLOOMBERG, Michael J. Kavanagh
The country’s mines minister — concerned that Dodd-Frank regulations will lead to a boycott of DR Congo’s minerals — sent a request to the SEC asking for the new regulations to require a gradual process of certificationFull Story Here…

No Justice for Women in DRC
July, 28 2011 AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, Lyric Thompason
Amnesty International gives an urgent appraisal of recent efforts to stem violence against women in Congo. Full Story Here…

BUT A LITTLE PROGRESS: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed an amendment pushing President Obama to appoint a special envoy to the Great Lakes region. More from Rep. Chris Smith’s office here.


Somali Women Seized Over Dress Code
Residents in the make-shift settlement where the arrests took place report that many women refuse to leave their homes due to their inability to meet the militant enforced dress code. Full Story Here…

Somalia: Victim of War, Famine and a Pestilence of Policy
Former British diplomat, Carne Ross, discuss how the current food shortage in Somalia provides an opportunity to assess the factors that contributed to the crisis and forge a new policy to rebuild the country. Full Story Here…



New Sisters in Somalia on Portland TV

Last week, A Thousand Sisters founder Lisa Shannon talked with Portland television reporter Stephanie Stricklen about her recent trip to Somalia. Shannon traveled to the war-ravaged nation to launch ATS’s new initiative, Sister Somalia. She met sexual violence survivors, delivered messages from ATS members, and learned a Somali word, “walala.” Sister.

Video Courtesy of KGW:

News to Know

This week’s must-read news stories


Quagmire in East Set to Blight DRC Elections
July 22, 2011 IRIN NEWS
Armed groups continue to operate more than three years after signing a peace deal aimed at bringing stability; the continued violence threatens the country’s chance of holding free and fair elections this November. Full Story Here…
RELATED: Insecurity Across the Kivus Local representatives offer a dramatically different view from UN officials. Full Story Here…

Race car driver Jeff Gordon Headed to Congo
July 16, 2011 YAHOO SPORTS, Jay Busbee
In a sign that awareness about Congo is rising, a NASCAR champion will visit refugee camps during his week off. Full Story Here…

Putting Smiles Back on Women’s Faces
July 18, 2011 AFP, Emmanuel Peuchot
Many of us have a “sister” in Congo through Women for Women InternationalAFP reports that those sponsorship efforts do make a difference.  Full Story Here…


Sole Female Cabinet Minister in Somalia Kidnapped By Rebel Group
July 21, 2011 FOX NEWS, Edmund DeMarche
Family members believe Asha Osman Aqiil is being held and interrogated by the militant group al Shebab. Full Story Here…

No Safe Place For Somali Women Refugees in Kenya
July 16, 2011 VOICE OF AMERICA, Gabe Joselow
Maternity wards in Kenyan refugee camps report an increasing number of pregnant refugees fleeing the worsening drought in Somalia. Full Story Here…

News to Know

Some of this week’s must-read news stories


2.5 Million Euros for DR Congo Rape Victims
July 12, 2011 AFP
The European Union humanitarian commission will provide funds to hospitals and medical centers to assist in treating victims of sexual violence in eastern Congo. Full Story Here…

More Than 30 Million Have Registered to Vote in DR Congo
Ahead of November’s national elections, opposition leaders are calling on election officials to extend the deadline for registration. Full Story Here…

Conflict Minerals: Hands-Off Is Not a Solution
July 11, 2011 HUFFINGTON POST,  Stephen P. Groff
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development releases new guidelines aimed at keeping minerals from becoming “conflict minerals.”. Full Story Here…


In Mogadishu: A Lifeline for Rape Victims
July 12, 2011 NEW YORK TIMES, Lisa Shannon
ATS founder, Lisa Shannon, guest blogs for the NY Times’ Nicholas Kristof about her recent trip to Mogadishu to launch Sister Somalia, a joint project with Prism Partnerships and Elman Human Rights Center. Full Story Here…

300 Children Left for Dead on Journey to Refugee Camp
July 14, 2011 MSNBC
East Africa’s record drought is hitting Somali children especially hard. Aid agencies report finding the children on road from Somalia to Kenyan refugee camps. Full Story Here….

News to Know

This week’s must-read news stories

The biggest news of week: ATS founder Lisa Shannon traveled to Mogadishu with Katy Grant, co-founder of Prism Partnerships, to meet the amazing Fartun Adan, director of the Mogadishu-based Elman Peace and Human Rights Center. Together the three organizations launched a new program, Sister Somalia, a lifeline for rape victims in Mogadishu. Listen to Lisa talk about the trip with PRI’s The World, Marco Werman: Rape Hotline Reaches Out to Women in Somalia


Sexual violence dominated news reports this week—more stories that underscore the need for our collective voice to end the violence.

DR Congo ‘Rape’ Colonel ‘Kifaru’ Kulimushi Surrenders
July 8, 2011 BBC
Colonel Kifaru, along with 150 of his soldier, are accused of committing mass rapes in eastern Congo last month after deserting the army’s reintegration program. Full Story Here…

DR Congo Rapes Could Be ‘Crimes Against Humanity’
July 6, 2011 AFP
UN investigators believe the advance planning and systematic nature of the mass rapes of 387 people could make the groups responsible subject to international law and prosecution. Full Story Here…

Congo Rape Victims Suffer Reprisal Attacks
July 6, 2011 ASSOCIATED PRESS, Carley Petesch
A year after a series of especially brutal attacks, only one suspect has been indicted and some victims still lack access to medical care. Full Story Here…

Hi from Mogadishu, “The Most Dangerous Place on Earth”

Yes, I’ve been warned. By just about everyone I know, in fact, especially by war-zone regulars. It is probably the most dangerous city—or place—on earth. As one war-correspondent friend who was there last year put it, “It is the most extreme place I’ve been…full of dead and heroes.” In fact, we had to delay our trip due to multiple suicide bombings and riots inside Mogadishu’s “safe zone.”

But where large-scale development projects fear to tread, where the world has simply written people off…’an army of women’ are about to show up. Make that an army of grassroots women. I’m hoping you’ll join us!

I was drawn to Congo six years ago because, as journalist Lisa Ling put it, “these women have no one.” Well, no place in the world has been more written off than Somalia. And in Somalia, no one has been more written off than women. Somalia was recently named one of the five most dangerous places to be a woman. Violence is rampant throughout the country: rape, torture, forced marriages to terrorist insurgents, on top of the utter vulnerability of just trying to keep themselves and their children alive. Like Congo in 2005, they have no one.

This always bothered me, but I never considered focusing on Somalia because I didn’t think it was possible. Like one DC-based expert put it, “No one goes to Somalia. Too dangerous.” Then I met Katy Grant, co-founder of Prism Partnerships. A 38-year-old British mother of three, Katy had traveled to Somalia more than 40 times in five years, including throughout two pregnancies, to facilitate humanitarian assistance through UNICEF. (Once, after a southern Somali town she was working in fell to Islamic insurgents, Katy was evacuated six months pregnant through roadless bandit territory towards Mogadishu in a hair-raising convoy escape, with a 16 kg flak jacket that would not fit over the baby bump!)

As Katy and I brainstormed how we might support women in Somalia, Katy immediately suggested Somali widow and human-rights activist Fartun Abdisalaan Adan. For years, Fartun worked alongside her husband, supporting his human rights efforts in Mogadishu. In 1996, he was murdered for his work. Fartun escaped to Canada to raise her daughters. In 2007, when her girls were old enough to live on their own, Fartun moved back to Mogadishu to continue her human rights work. In a shocking turn, one of her daughters, who has no memory of early life in Somalia, decided to join her. They live under constant threat. Every single day, they are grateful to still be alive.

We asked her what we can do to support her and Somali women. It turns out, that’s the easy part! Just write a letter. Or make a donation.

Katy and I are in Mogadishu today to talk with sexual violence survivors who have flocked to Fartun for refuge. We have delivered a bundle of 40 letters from the first group of American women and men supporting our new program in collaboration with Prism Partnerships, Sister Somalia. Fartun’s vision includes the first sexual violence hotline in Mogadishu, while serving 300 women a year with counseling, medical services, and business starter kits. We hope at least 1,000 American women and men will each give $10/ month or more to make that happen. Join us!

To find out more about our new program and what $10 buys in Mogadishu, click here.

The Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia 18 years ago was tragic not only for the loss of U.S. servicemen but because the subsequent U.S. policy toward Africa became hands-off in areas that need it most. Our trip and Sister Somalia program send the message that the risk is worth is, that these women matter—to me, to Katy, and Fartun, and I hope to you, too. Join us in supporting Sister Somalia!

With much love,



News to Know

This week’s must-read news stories

UN Confirms Congolese Army Responsible for Mass Rape
July 1, 2011 BNO NEWS

The mass rape, which took place this June, was the work of a recently demoted army officer who had previously been convicted for the rape of 60 women in January. Full Story Here…

IPC Pushes 3-Year Phase-In for Conflict Minerals Rules

A leading industry association’s legal brief aims to convince the SEC to gradually phase in the new conflict mineral regulations so merchants and smelters can have more time to reach compliance. Full Story Here…

UN Extends Its Peacekeeping Mission in DRC for Another Year
June 28, 2011 REUTERS, Louis Charbonneau

Citing violence and instability in the country’s east and the importance of upcoming national elections, the UN Security Council said the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers would be premature. Full Story Here…

UN Mission Launches New Military Offensive in DRC
June 29, 2011 VOICE OF AMERICA, Peter Clottey

In an effort to re-assert control over violence plagued portions of eastern Congo, UN peacekeepers this week launched an offensive in North Kivu. The effort’s goal is to demonstrate MONUSCO dominance, increase protection of citizens and keep rebel groups from uniting. Full Story Here…

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