For a decade, one of the nastiest and bloodiest wars and humanitarian catastrophes since World War II has pounded one corner of Africa –the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). International NGOs claim more than 5.4 million have, so far, been brutally massacred but experts and doctors on the ground count over 10 Million killed since the wars first ignited in 1994 – and yet blood still running like water - claiming as many as 45, 000 lives each month but we rarely hear anything about this!

The Causes

The root causes of the unfolding wars are quite complex. However, one fundamental fact is that they stemmed from the wave of violence unleashed by Genocide that struck Rwanda in 1994. In Congo, however, the unfolding wars “officially” begun in 1998 when the late President Laurent Kabila dismissed the Rwandans and Ugandans military officials who had helped him end the 32 years reign of President Joseph Mobutu in May 1997.

This coincided with growing speculations – one of which was that Rwanda, as a reward for his role in ousting President Mobutu in May 1997, would annex (or maintain its military presence) in Eastern Congo because of the growing security threats a large number of Hutus responsible for the 1994 Genocide living in refugee camps in eastern Congo paused to the young republic.

These unfounded speculations were, in turn, systematically exploited for political points and popularity – and, as a result, brought about hostile attitudes and violent languages toward Congolese Tutsis across the Congo, whom, because of cultural similarities and a shared spoken language with Rwandan Tutsis, are alleged as privileging ties with the Rwandan Tutsis regime in Kigali over national loyalty. As a result,

Partially as a result of all this, the dismissed Rwandan Tutsis and Ugandan troops, under the pretext of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, went off, re-grouped and realigned with President Mobutu’s military disciples and local Congolese Tutsis militia and then launched a bloody offensive rebellion against the Kabila government, who, equally, under the same pretext of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, realigned with local anti-Tutsis armed groups and other regional forces to fight what they perceived to be a Tutsi hegemony in the Great Lack region.

This turned the Congo into huge battlefields, which, at some points, involved 9 regional forces –Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Angola, Namibia, Chad, Sudan, Libya and Zimbabwe, dozens of indigenous armed militias groups and western based private military companies fighting spontaneous wars.

As a result, the whole country, particularly the eastern regions, has been transformed into hotbeds of barbaric atrocities. No rule of law seems to exist and life has lost its basic value. Eastern Congo has since been left at the mercy of tyrannical administration of warlords. It has been transformed into, what can only be termed as, concentration camps, where nothing but extreme sexual atrocities, ethnically motivated persecution and systematic massacres reign.

Unable to be protected by the Kinshasa government and abandoned by the international community, those still trapped in this corner of the world have no hopes but to wait for their time. If lucky enough he or she will be shot dead, if not, he or she will endure a slow painful death depending upon the mood of their killers. Some are set ablaze alive or slaughter by machetes whilst women and young girls are subjected to the worse public brutal gang rapes that go beyond the mere meaning of rapes.


Virgil Hawkins said...

My name is Virgil Hawkins, and I am an assistant professor at Osaka University. I have enjoyed reading your work on the DRC, and am glad to see attention being directed towards a conflict that, despite its sheer scale, rarely gets any.

I have recently published a book that I think you may find interesting. It is entitled Stealth Conflicts: How the World’s Worst Violence Is Ignored (I think the term ‘stealth’ is more appropriate than ‘forgotten’ – because the conflict in the DRC was not remembered in the first place, and because the conflict has not simply slipped the minds of those in a position to respond, it is the result of a series of deliberate choices). The book examines responses to conflicts and the agenda-setting process, and attempts to unravel and explain how large conflicts end up being ignored by policymakers, the media, the public, and academia. The DRC is, of course, a case in point. I hope you will have a chance to take a look at it. The introduction is available on the publisher’s homepage. ( ). I think that the book may serve as a modest contribution in bringing to light the mechanisms behind the wall of ignorance and apathy surrounding much of the conflict in the world today.

I wish you all the best in your work!