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Africa in focus

Africa in the News: M23 Lays Down Arms in the Congo and Amnesty International Criticizes Shell in Nigeria

Brandon Routman

M23 Rebels in Congo Surrender

On Tuesday, the M23 rebels announced their surrender after sowing havoc in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo for more than a year and a half.  The announcement comes amid increased international pressure by the United Nations on the rebel group to surrender.  The international organization had ordered to its troops to take a more aggressive stance against the rebels after they had done little to stop them from seizing the city of Goma one year ago. 

The U.N. force in the Congo, also known as MONUSCO, plans to stay in the country for the foreseeable future to continue to protect civilian life. Observers have welcomed the news of the surrender with both jubilation and tempered optimism, noting that peace agreements with the Congolese government have not always been upheld.  In fact, the M23 group gets its name from a peace deal signed on March 23, 2009, which the group claims was not honored by the government.   Sustaining peace might also require continued attention from abroad:  A contributing factor to the surrender was the international community’s cutting of financial support to the Rwandan government, which is alleged to be in close collaboration with the rebels. 

Shell Faces Criticism after Oil Spills in Nigeria

This past week, Amnesty International released a new report that is highly critical of Shell’s operations in Nigeria.  The report claims that the company has not done enough to curtail the number of oil spills in that country.  Specifically, it finds that the corporation attributes oil spoils to saboteurs without sufficient evidence, thereby evading responsibility for the spills, and does little to compensate affected communities.  The publication of this report comes at a time when the Nigerian government is investigating the claim by a number of Nigerian communities accusing Shell of not supplying adequate relief materials after a large crude oil spill in 2011.  The communities have sought redress both at home and internationally, through the United Nations and the European Union.

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