Monday, November 17, 2008

Genocide and chaos in the Congo

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Please check out Michael Kavanagh's "Five Million Dead and Counting" at Slate, a reporter's account of the ongoing civil war and atrocities in North Kivu, an eastern province of the Congo:

There are now more than 1 million displaced people scattered throughout the province. In the last 10 years of fighting, more than 5 million people have died in the Congolese conflict -- mostly civilians who haven't had access to enough food or health care because of the fighting. And let's be clear: That's 5 million and counting.

Essentially, the civil war in the Congo is an extension of the civil war and genocide in Rwanda, with -- if I may simplify -- Congolese Tutsi rebels, led by Laurent Nkunda and backed by Rwanda's Tutsi-led government, in battle against the Congolese government and Rwandan Hutus in the Congo: "And the early returns look like displacement, starvation, rape, murder, and terror." (According to the International Rescue Committee, "[c]onflict and humanitarian crisis in [the Congo] have taken the lives of 5.4 million people since 1988 and continue to leave as many as 45,000 dead every month.")

There is a good deal of blame to go around, with brutality on both sides, but Kavanagh also points out the failure of the international community -- the U.N., the E.U., the U.S., and the A.U. -- to respond in any meaningful way to the crisis.

Make sure to read the whole thing. We all need to pay more attention to Africa -- and to what's going on in the Congo (it's not just Darfur that's suffering). And not just when Bono or Bob Geldof or John le Carré tell us to.

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