By Aparajita Paul:
As she looked up from her platter, still finishing her mid-day meal that had been provided by the UN refugee camp attendants in Congo, she heard a cry. As she ran out to see what it was, her son’s dead body was being brought in by the UN officials.
Her world had collapsed. She ceased to exist.
As we sit in front of our television sets, still not over the 26/11 massacre, there is another part of the world, still going unnoticed; whose citizens are in the midst of a war where they don’t even know who the friend or the foe is; a war against the rebels with loyalties shifting every few days and the cause they are fighting for unknown to everyone involved, including the leaders. For the ordinary people, however, it is a war of survival, a war against life itself.
Conflict and humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo have taken the lives of 5.4 million people since 1998 and continue to leave as many as 45,000 dead every month, according to a 2008 mortality survey released by the International Rescue Committee.
According to reports, about 50,000 to 60,000 women are raped every year. This “genocide” (the UN is still debating whether to call it one) has displaced a quarter of a million people since August. The Democratic Republic of Congo, situated in Africa, has been engulfed in war and civil unrest for over a decade now and remains one of the world’s worst and most forsaken humanitarian crises.
What is the world doing about it? Is there a political will at all to change the situation? I think, the political will does not exist in any which way. The crisis that displaced millions is being treated by the world community with unimaginable hypocrisy. Yes, there are treaties being signed, hundreds of them. There are UN Security Council sessions being held. The UN has also made this conflict, their top priority.
As various sources say, the situation in Congo is a text book example of the blatant failure of the world’s largest peace keeping organisation — the United Nations. The 17,000 member peace keeping force currently placed in the region, known as the MONUC, has been acting as little more than observers. They are widely dispersed and are unable to protect civilians even in the areas that are covered by them. There is a constant lack of supplies. They are not able to even protect their own bases from the crossfire or any of the rival factions taking umbrage at their action perceived to be favouring one against the other. More often than not, they arrive at the area of crime long after hundreds have been murdered or raped or abducted never to return. The UN officials more than anything else, have been found to have no intelligence network and local support base and have also been facing problems with the local languages being spoken and thus cannot communicate well with the civilians. Disgustingly enough, a few members of the peace keeping force have also been found to be committing these heinous crimes.
The situation, instead of improving has been steadily worsening. As you read this, in little more than 24 hours from now, 150 more people would have been killed either by the rebels or the government soldiers or by cholera outbreaks, hunger, and starvation.
Has the world forgotten its previous massacres? Have we forgotten what the death of a relative, a close friend, an Indian or for that matter the citizen of the world feels like? Have we become so insensitive towards death of a fellow human, towards starvation, towards misery that we no longer care?
And to those who are trying to underestimate the seriousness of the impact of starvation, they should be more careful as the next meal for the starving Congolese, may be the flesh and blood of a family member.
With this post, Youth Ki Awaaz urges the Indian Govt and the United Nations to act urgently to better the condition of Congo.
Image courtesy: http://www.gorillas.org/Congo_Crisis