Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Congo tragedy takes its toll...

A new report has been released suggesting that over 5.4 million people have died in Eastern Congo since the conflict began in 1998 (previous estimates suggested 4 millio had died). The report also says that over 45,000 are dying every month...45,000! That comes out to around 1,200 a day. Assuming this is correct, the jungles of sub-saharan Africa are the setting of the bloodiest conflict since WWII, when the Nazis killed over 9 million Jews and other Europeans in the Holocaust.

...and all we can do is sit back and do nothing, just as we've done with Darfur and just as we did with Rwanda. This tragedy, however, outstrips both of those conflicts combined. Even if you include the most extreme estimates in the Iraq War as well, the numbers don't even come close, although it should be noted that Congo's slide into despair is partly due to the ongoing ripples of the Rwandan Genocide almost 14 years ago, when the militias that had left nearly a million bodies in their wake were driven into the Congo to continue their killing spree.

In addition to genocide and war, many groups roaming the lawless region are also seeking to exploit Congo's vast minerals and natural resources. Children continue to die from easily preventable diseases, and untold thousands are perishing every month because of hunger.

But what does it matter to us? It's only Africa after all...

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