All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region and Genocide Provention

The Great Lakes region of Africa - comprising the countries of Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo - has been engulfed by conflict over the last ten years, at a cost of an estimated 5,000,000 lives. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda was the worst mass killing of the second half of the twentieth century. 800,000 tutsi and moderate hutu were slaughtered in just three months.

Not only this, but the genocide helped spark a brutal civil war in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo that has led to the deaths of some 2,500,000 people. At its height it involved the armed forces of seven nations and countless rebel factions, and still continues to this day. Throughout this time these tragedies have been largely ignored by the wider world. It was as a contribution to ensuring that this situation did not continue that I founded the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region and Genocide Prevention in 1998.

The Group has a cross-party membership of over a hundred MPs and Peers, and exists to raise the parliamentary profile of these issues, and to promote sustainable peace, justice and development through influencing the policies of Britain, the EU and national governments of the region. If you would like to know more about the activities of the Group please visit our website at www.appggreatlakes.org.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was founded in 1998 after a visit to Rwanda by the House of Commonís Select Committee on International Development, following the genocide in 1994. Seeing tens of thousands of corpses made the statistic Ė up to a million people killed in a hundred days Ė a horrifying reality. The worst thing was that the International Community did nothing to stop the massacres. We failed to turn the post World War Two slogan "never again" into a reality. It was the sentiment behind that slogan that led to the successful passage of the 1948 Genocide Convention. The aim of this All Party Group (APG) is to turn words into action.

Our remit extends to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo because war and conflict have blighted the entire Great Lakes region. In Burundi 200,000 people have died since 1993, and 2.5 million people have died from war in the Congo. Average life expectancy in the region is only 47 years, and half of all children under five are undernourished. We believe that parliamentarians have a responsibility to address the humanitarian crisis and persuade politicians in the region that there is an alternative to war.

On our web-site, you can access current updates on the situation in the Great Lakes; find out about Government policy; see the latest thatís been said about the Great Lakes in Parliament; and hear about forthcoming campaigns. We are funded by Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, Tearfund, War Child, International Alert, United Nations Association, Action Aid and CAFOD.

The groupís success depends on the advice and support we receive from outside parliament. If you are able to support the work of the APPG, please make a cheque payable to "All Party Parliamentary Group, Great Lakes" and send to Oona King MP, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA.

For further information on this group, please visit their website on www.appggreatlakes.org.