On January 13, join the World Affairs Council for an event on the humanitarian issues and developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Horn of Africa. Our featured speaker, Mr. Ben Rawlence, is well-positioned to address both humanitarian crisis as author of Radio Congo: Signals of Hope from Africa's Deadliest War, and most recently City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp, a firsthand account of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya which houses a half-million residents. In addition, the author previously served as a former researcher for Human Rights Watch in the Horn of Africa.
Both the DRC and the Horn of Africa present ongoing humanitarian concerns. Since its independence in 1960, the DRC has been fraught with violence, corruption, and widespread civilian suffering. A five-year war that began in 1996 is the deadliest documented conflict in African history and claimed more lives than any war since World War II. There have also been a number of positive developments in the DRC in recent years. Most foreign forces have withdrawn, frameworks for reconciliation are in place, and improved stability enables humanitarian organizations to expand health and infrastructure support programs. However, the peace process is ongoing and the experience of war continues to impact the lives of some 67 million people in the DRC. In the Horn of Africa, natural disasters and famine compound with a fragile security situation, affecting millions and stretching humanitarian assistance efforts. The displacement of refugees to neighboring countries presents a new set of challenges for regional governments.
This is a timely event you do not want to miss! Our conversation will be moderated by Ambassador Roger Meece, whose previous posts include former Ambassador to the DRC (2004-2007) and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2009).
Ben Rawlence's book, City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp, will be available for purchase and signing at the event.
Credit: Jonny Donovan
Ben Rawlence is a former researcher for Human Rights Watch in the horn of Africa. He is the author of City of Thorns and Radio Congo and has written for a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, the Guardian, the London Review of Books, and Prospect. He lives in Wales with his family.
Ambassador Roger Meece (moderator) joined the Foreign Service in 1979. During the course of his career he has served in numerous capacities, including work in the Americas office of the Bureau of International Narcotics Matters in the Department of State, on detail for two years to the Office of the Vice President, as Consul-General in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and as Director for the Office of Central African Affairs in Washington, D.C., as well as study for an academic year at the National Defense College of Canada. He was assigned as Deputy Chief of Mission in Brazzaville (Republic of Congo) from 1988 – 1991 and Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) from 1995 – 1998, as Chargé d’Affaires in Nigeria for several months in 2003, and as Diplomat in Residence at Florida International University in Miami immediately thereafter. Mr. Meece was appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to Malawi from 2001 – 2003, and to the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2004 – 2007. He retired from active duty in the Foreign Service in September, 2007, although he was asked subsequently to serve as Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from August to December, 2009. During his Foreign Service career, Mr. Meece received numerous performance awards.
In July, 2010, the United Nations Secretary-General appointed Mr. Meece as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission there (MONUSCO), based in Kinshasa. On completion of this appointment, he returned to the Seattle area to resume retirement in July 2013. Mr. Meece has remained active in foreign affairs since retirement as a participant and speaker at programs organized by the Department of State, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, and the Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, among others. He is fluent in French. He has been a member of the Seattle World Affairs Council since 2008.
Thank you to the Seattle Times for hosting the event: