Friday, July 31, 2009

The view from East Congo

A local elected leader of displaced Congolese. Photo by Bruce Knauft.

Anthropologist Bruce Knauft, director of the States at Regional Risk Project, writes in Emory Report:

This spring, I had the privilege to visit once again the eastern Congo, a region that has suffered the greatest loss of life in the world from human-caused disaster — about 5.5 million persons — since World War II.

In the wake of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, large-scale loss of life in the Great Lakes region has now become concentrated primarily in one country — the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the conflict that informs this catastrophe is regional and even global. It has even been described as “the first African world war,” as so many countries have been involved.

An important and troubling aspect of this conflict is not only that it has dragged on for years but that it combines dramatic, violent atrocities with a numbing drumbeat of lives lost due to famine, destruction of crops, livestock, homes, and lack of health and humanitarian services. Armed groups and militias render populous parts of rural East Congo insecure and effectively unreachable for services or aid by humanitarian organizations and the United Nations, much less the Congolese government.

Read more.

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