Saturday, November 17, 2007
A Genocide Forgotten
Africa has been on my mind a lot lately. It's such a tragedy that so much of what's happening over there goes unreported in the mainstream media. For example, not very many people know about Ituri, Katanga, or North Kivu, three provinces in Eastern Congo that have been plagued by continuing bloodshed for years. The Congo War started shortly after the Rwandan Genocide ended, when RPF rebels drove the Interahamwe militia into Congo's vast jungles. Unfortunately, the militiamen did not stop their killing spree, it simply continued in a new location. After Rwanda finished counting its dead and the world remained in shock over the horror of the most efficient mass killing in human history, the Hutu miltia who took so many lives continued to wreck havoc on the innocent in Congo. Eventually, Rwanda and a half-dozen other African nations would be drawn into the battle, and hundreds of thousands would die. Millions more, many of them children, would sucumb to disease and staration. Other militias would form, including Tutsis rebels led by a General named Laurent Nkunda. Hoping to get even with the Hutus, the Tutsis militias would committ atrocities almost as bad as their rivals. Natural resources also came into play, and greed and corruption dragged Africa into even more mayhem. By 2002, some 4 million people had died in the Congo War and its sub-conflicts, some of which are happening today. A small contingent of 17,000 peacekeepers has had some luck in tamping down the remaining Interahamwe militia, but Nkunda's Tutsis rebels continue their siege of Eastern Congo, killing and raping countless innocent people. This year, tens of thousands have been driven from their homes as the rebels battle it out with government and UN forces, vying for control of lawless region. It's hard to know exactly what type of conflict this is. Obviosuly, its a genocide, but its almost like a mix of Somalia, Iraq, Darfur, and Rwanda. As of today, the death toll in the Congo War surpasses all of the previous conclicts mentioned above combined. If this isn't the definition of tragedy, then what would be? If you care about Africa like I do, then take action. Even something as small as donating a soccer ball to children can go a long way. Then there's always volunteer opportunities, something I'm considering doing in the near future. A good group is Volunteer Africa, where volunteers are sent to build school houses in Tanzania. I plan on writing a letter to Nancy Pelosi (I live right near her district) so I can ask her why she cares so much about condemning the Armenian Genocide that happened 90 years ago, but has never once urged action to intervene in war-torn and genocide ravaged parts of Africa.