WASHINGTON (JTA) — Secretary of State John Kerry named Russ Feingold, a former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, as his envoy to the troubled Great Lakes Region in eastern Africa.
“Russ will be coordinating with me and with the Bureau of African Affairs to shape our strategy on the many challenges in the region,” Kerry said Tuesday at a State Department media briefing. “Cross-border security; political, economic, and social assistance issues; and many other issues.”
Kerry noted that Feingold chaired the Africa subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Kerry chaired the committee.
Feingold, a Jewish Democrat, served 18 years in the Senate before losing in 2010 to Ron Johnson in the sweep of Congress by Republicans backed by the conservative Tea Party movement.
The Great Lakes region, bordered by Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, for decades has been afflicted by wars that have taken millions of lives.
“We are convinced that we have to help the parties find a path to a lasting peace, to a permanent cessation of hostilities,” Kerry said, “and to the disarmament and demobilization of M23,” a Congolese rebel militia, “accountability for human rights abuses, and finally, a breaking down of the barriers that are standing between humanitarian aid and the civilians who need it.”