Photos and reporting by Sadie Rittman.
On Friday, armed with cell phones, suggested scripts, and educational handouts, Swarthmore College’s STAND chapter hosted a call-in urging the White House to appoint a presidential envoy to peace negotiations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Despite a 2002 peace deal between the Congo and Rwandan occupying forces, civilians in the eastern part of the country are still terrorized by militias, including the anti-government M23, and the army.
While the U.N. has had a peacekeeping mission in the country since 2001, Sierra Eckert, a student leader of Swarthmore STAND, described their efforts to mediate talks between the government and rebels as “small and ineffective.” STAND, she said, advocates for the United States to send a special envoy to aid peace talks in addition to the U.N. mission.
Swarthmore STAND, a chapter of the national anti-genocide student coalition, organized the call-in to coincide with other call-ins hosted by students nationwide. The scale of such actions, Eckert said, raises awareness and puts real pressure on the White House.
In November 2011, Swarthmore STAND hosted two call-in days in support of the sanctions against Syria then being debated in U.S. Congress.