Transcript of "Global south development_magazine_april_2012"
GLOBAL SOUTH Development Magazine#9, April 201 2, A development quarterly,ISSN: 1 799-0769, www.silcreation.org WAR & PEACE IN CONGO
Global South Development Magazine is a quarterly magazinepublished by Silver Lining Creation, Finland. The magazine coversa wide range of developmental issues primarily of the developingworld and is an initiative of freelance writers and developmentactivists from different parts of the world.Editor-in-ChiefManoj Kr Bhusalmanoj.firstname.lastname@example.orgAssistant EditorsIoulia FentonLawin Khalil Mustafa Marketing Manager Dinesh Poudel (email@example.com)Regional EditorsLingson Adam (East Africa) PromotersKhalid Hussain (South Asia) Saila Ohranen (firstname.lastname@example.org)Noah Marwil (Latin America) Sudip Joshi (email@example.com)Catriona Knapman (The Middle East) Suraj Chand (firstname.lastname@example.org)Special Correspondents Published ByCarolynn Look (Country Profiles) Silver Lining Creation RY-FinlandMary Namusoke (Women’s issues in Africa) Email: email@example.comRoxanne Irani (Global environmental issues) firstname.lastname@example.orgSandeep Srivastava (Climate change) http://www.silcreation.orgAliza Amlani (Global Health) ISSN 1799-0769Deanna Morris (Livelihood & Global Economic Affairs) Subscribe free to Global South DevelopmentAparna S Patankar (Global Education) Magazine at www.silcreation.orgScott Ruddick (Development Aid & Conflict States)Hriday Sarma (South-to-South Development Cooperation) Read GSDM BlogIrene Nyambura Mwangi (Development & Democracy in Africa) http://globalsouthdevelopment.wordpress.com/Country CorrespondentsVictoria Lucy Peel Yates (Argentina)Tithe Farhana (Bangladesh)Dr. Lykke E. Andersen (Bolivia)Marita Haug (Brazil)James Belgrave (Burundi)Gareth Mace (Cambodia)Meerim Shakirova (Central Asia)Fady Salah (Egypt)Emily Cavan Lynch (DR Congo)Dr.P.V.Ravichandiran (India)Alphonce Gari (Kenya)Samuel Adikpe (Nigeria)Ricardo Morel (Peru)Mohamud Hassan (Somalia) Follow us on FacebookMoses C Masami (Tanzania)Kimbowa Richard (Uganda) Facebook.com/GlobalSouthJasen Mphepo (Zimbabwe)Guest contributors for this issueAnnie BaconKaitlyn PhillipsZack WettsteinNarayan BhattaInnocent KazembeDavid Meagher
Technology will fixcorruption! Contents Global South Development Magazine, Founded in 2010Dear Editor, April 201 2 ISSUE 9 WWW.SILCREATION.ORG In the January issue of your magazine, I hadthe chance to read an article about anti-corruption campaigns in India. I think a lotneeds to be done in order to stamp outcorruption from the country, but we should notforget that the so called anti-corruptioncampaigns have thier own agendas too. Theyseem to be hungry of media limelight andattention, and do not digest criticisms easily.Corruption needs something more than massprotests and rallies. Without restructuring statemechanisms, the dream of eliminatingcorruption wont come true. Laws and moraleducation might be useful, but technology thatensures transparency is a must!Madhavi, Pune-India Having passed through decades of conflict, instability and political turmoil, has peace prevailed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? A special report on the DRC. 4 South in the Frame 25 US Peace Corps A photo presentation of In The Northern Triangle – Pencils of Promise A shift from development 5 News Analysis to militarisation? Global South 27 Public Health: 7 Argentina Bangladeshs fight to the Latin American pioneer restore childhood sight in gender and sexual 29 Gender & equality 21 Health Development Doctor in your pocket – the Improving womens new era of mobile health! participation: A challenge for Nepal 23 Voluntarism 31 Global South in the Mutually Beneficial news: global south in Impacts of International global media Volunteers in Latin 32 Final remarks from America the editor: When things fall apartFailed states? By Which functioning states are labelled as that might be successful within theirMeasures? failed states, but what about the territories, but are largely reponsible states that export weapons and for making peoples life measurableDear Editor, orchestrate vicious wars overseas? abroad. This would make them a I read the January issue of Global What about the states that are crazy little more responsible, if at all.South Development Magazine with in their consumer habits and responsible for permanently Suvi, Helsinki- Finlandgreat interest. The cover story damaging the environment?apprently was very interesting.However, there could have been a twoI categoriesworld should have think the (Dear readers, please send your of failed states. The comments, suggestions and quiries bycritical remark on the idea of failed first catagory is alaredy available, email at globalsouth@silcreation. orgstates categorization. I am aware the second one should include states - Editor)that war trodden, poor, non-
South in the Frame Pencils of PromiseIn Laos, an entire school’s studentpopulation rushes outside at thenews and reception of new schoolsupplies and personal hygeineaccessories. From left to right: Little girl in Non Kihow, Laos, plants herself on the classroom floor with her new notepad; cheeky primary school student in Phayong, Laos, during a nutrition lesson on making healthy food snacks; girl at a construction planning meeting in Lizarco, outside of Matagalpa, Pencils of Promise is a New York-based NGO that aims to Nicaragua; bread feast after a empower youth by building classrooms, schools, and sustainable Community Engagement Workshop in education resources for communities without proper access to these Santa Catarina, Guatemala. Photo basic elements. www.pencilsofpromise.org courtesy: Pencils of Promise
News Analysis Global SouthPHILIPPINES: OMG! Eat-your-vegetables campaignBANGKOK, March 2012 measurement of chronicCelebrities are working with the malnutrition.Philippines government in a The Philippines’ producerecently launched nationwide consumption of 60kg per personmedia campaign to lift the per year in 2007 was one of theconsumption of fresh produce lowest in Asia, according to theand fight malnutrition among World Health Organizationyoung people. (WHO). The name of the project, ‘Oh WHO recommends a dailyMy Gulay!’ (OMG!) (‘oh my intake of 400g of vegetables andvegetables’ in the local Tagalog fruits per person (150kg perlanguage) plays off the year) to help prevent vitamin andshorthand exclamation mineral deficiencies as well ascommonly interspersed in text heart disease, some cancers,messages sent via mobile phones diabetes and obesity. An- ‘OMG’ for ‘oh my god’ - and estimated 1.7 million (2.8resonates widely in a country percent) of deaths every yearwhere more than one billion text worldwide are linked tomessages are sent daily. insufficient vegetable and fruit Local celebrities in dance, consumption, according to themusic and television are featured health agency.in print and on television, posing The celebrity advocacy ofwith their favourite vegetables. OMG! follows a 2011 “Role models are efficient for government programme to set upchildren, and targeting children produce gardens in all 42,000is both boosting immediate schools by providing tools, seedsconsumption and initiating a and training.mindset change about vegetables “There is no space too little toand fruits,” explained the farm. Space-friendly techniquesfounder of the campaign, Ed allow communities and families YANGON, Myanmar- Aung San Suu Kyi, theAngara, a parliamentarian from to produce a lot, even on a tiny democracy advocate silenced for two decades bythe capital region of Metro piece of concrete,” said Holmer. Myanmar’s generals with house arrests and overturnedManila. Container vegetable and fruit elections, assumed a new role in her country’s political “We want to make vegetables production - for example, transition on 2 April 2012, winning a seat in Parliamentand fruits sexy - too many growing a plant in a plastic water to make the remarkable shift from dissident toFilipinos prefer to buy meat bottle - is widely used in cities lawmaker.rather than vegetables and fruits throughout the Philippines andto complement their rice-based other countries.diet,” said Robert Holmer, “Vegetables and fruits can beregional director for East and more expensive than fish in theSoutheast Asia of the World Philippines, and their pricesVegetable Centre (AVRDC), a fluctuate a lot,” said Sheila AcloTaiwan-headquartered NGO de Lima, a training officer withpreviously known as the Asian AVRDC. “Thanks to theseVegetable Research [space-friendly] methods,Development Centre, which is underprivileged families cansupporting the campaign. produce for themselves, and According to the most recent their vegetable and fruitgovernment national nutrition consumption is resilient tosurvey in 2008, chronic weather and food crises.” Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, a 1991 Nobel Peace laureatemalnutrition (a shortage of Increasing produce consumption and the face of Myanmar’s democracy movement, willintake of vitamins and nutrients) is key to reducing the hold a public office for the first time. But despite heramong children is directly malnutrition-related illnesses global prominence, she will be joining a Parliament thatrelated to the country’s low that affect some 200 million is still overwhelmingly controlled by the military-vegetable and fruit consumption. children worldwide according to backed ruling party. An estimated 29 percent of the Paris-based French A nominally civilian government took power onechildren under five years old and Agricultural Research for year ago after years of oppressive military rule and33 percent of children younger Development Centre (CIRAD). introduced political changes it hoped would persuadethan 10 years were too short for (News coutesy IRIN) Western nations to end economic sanctions. (withtheir age groups, which is one agencies)
News Analysis Global South Number of executions around ISRAEL: the world soared last year, with Deportation countries such as Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia resorting to looms for South the death penalty more often than in the past Sudan migrants TEL AVIV, March 2012 - Asylum- China executed more people seekers from South Sudan living in than the rest of the world put Israel have until 31 March to return together “home” or face deportation, but some have asked to stay, saying conditions are The United States was the only not yet conducive for their safe return. According to Israeli Interior Minister country in the Americas and Sabine Haddad, South Sudan nationals the only member of the Group living in Israel will no longer be given of Eight leading economies to protected status after the deadline. Until execute prisoners in 2011, then, he added, they will be offeredDeath penalty something Shetty described as "very shameful." voluntary deportation and around US$1,300.2011: Alarming But Natalina, a 46-year-old single mother of three who arrived in Israel sixlevels of Belarus was the only country in Europe to carry out years ago after spending 12 years is Cairo, said she would find it difficult to leave. "I dont want to take [the children]executions executions in 2011 told the Reuters news agency, adding back because I know their lives will change dramatically," she told IRIN. "I have no one in Sudan, I know no oneAmnesty International says executions that the downside was that "a few there - no family, nothing. I havent beenrose by 78 per cent worldwide and by countries continue to practice it in large there in 18 years, I am a single Mum and50 per cent in the Middle East last year. numbers." I cannot afford to pay for medical The number of executions around the At least 1,923 people are known to treatment and education in Southworld soared last year, with countries have been sentenced to death in 63 Sudan."such as Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia countries in 2011, down from 2,024 in Natalina, whose three children agedresorting to the death penalty more 2010, Amnestys report said. At least 7, 9 and 15 are enrolled in Israelioften than in the past, rights group 18,750 people were under sentence of schools, said she and some 700 otherAmnesty International has said in a new death worldwide at the end of 2011, South Sudanese asylum-seekers receivedreport. including 8,300 in Pakistan, it said. notice from the Ministry of Interior three The group said on Tuesday that at After China, most executions last year months ago, asking them to report forleast 676 people were executed in 20 were carried out in Iran, where at least repatriation by 31 March 2012 or becountries in 2011 compared with 527 360 people were put to death compared declared illegal aliens in Israel.executions in 23 countries in 2010, a 78 with at least 252 in 2010, Saudi Arabia "I do not wish to see my childrenper cent increase. (at least 82 executions in 2011 suffer. Weve had meetings with the Executions in the Middle East rose compared with at least 27 in 2010), and Israeli government but they will not giveby almost 50 per cent last year to 558, Iraq (at least 68 executions compared us answers. If they decide to do thisthe group said. with at least one), Amnesty said. (send asylum-seekers back) by 31 Methods of execution used around They were followed by the United March, I will disappear, I cannot gothe world included beheading, hanging, States, with 43 executions in 2011 down back," said Natalina, a prominent leaderlethal injection and shooting. from 46 a year earlier, and Yemen, at of the small community of SouthHowever, Amnesty said China executed least 41 executions in 2011 down from Sudanese in Israel.more people than the rest of the world 62 officially reported in 2010. The Israeli authorities, in a Januaryput together. Data on the death penalty The United States was the only letter circulated among the Southin China is a state secret, and Amnesty country in the Americas and the only Sudanese community, said the new stateInternational no longer publishes a member of the Group of Eight leading was safe.figure for Chinese executions, but it economies to execute prisoners in 2011, "We are not asking to stay forever, but tosaid they were in the thousands. something Shetty described as "very be given enough time until the new stateSalil Shetty, Amnestys secretary- shameful." recovers somewhat," Simon,a Southgeneral, said that when Amnesty was Belarus was the only country in Sudanese community leader who left hislaunched in 1961 only nine countries Europe to carry out executions in 2011 country 17 years ago, explained. "I knowhad abolished the death penalty for all when it put two people to death. No of many repatriated communitycrimes, whereas last year only 20 executions were recorded in Japan last members who were forced to flee againcountries carried out executions. year, for the first time in 19 years. to the north, to Kenya or Uganda. South"Its a very important success story," he (Source Amnesty International and Sudan is only seven months old and still Agencies) a failed state." (Source IRIN)
LGBT Latin AmericaArgentina: the LatinAmerican pioneer in genderand sexual equality B Y VICTORIA PEEL YATES In ArgentinaFor a country synonymous with a equality.culture of machismo, gauchos Argentina was the first (and to date reported in Chile and Brazil. Despite(cowboys) and a dance deeply rooted in the only) Latin American country to the growing acceptance for LGBTtraditional male-female dominant- legalise gay marriage and adoptions, public officials in countries such assubmissive roles, the tango, Argentina with a law that was passed in 2010, Colombia (where the appointment ofis surprisingly leading the way for joining just a handful of countries that Tatiana Pineros, a transgender woman,gender and sexual equality in Latin recognise gay marriage. It has some of to head of Bogota’s social welfareAmerica. the most progressive laws promoting agency was received with little Amid the recent drama unfolding in gender and sexual rights in the entire opposition from the public), others,the Argentinean political arena, namely region. In Chile, Bolivia, Peru, such as Bolivia, do not even have lawsthe dispute with Britain over the Paraguay and Venezuela there are no in place to prevent discrimination basedFalklands/Malvinas (among other laws that recognise or grant rights to on sexuality. The continent seems to bethings), two bills have been quietly same sex couples. Brazil, Uruguay, divided, with conservative religious andmaking their way through Congress, Ecuador and Colombia have followed political views clashing with supportersalmost unnoticed. The first was passed in Argentina’s footsteps by passing laws of LGBT civil rights.on 14th March 2012, and marked a that recognise and grant rights to samehuge breakthrough for women’s rights sex couples. However, despite strongin Latin America. The bill legalised lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenderabortions for all victims of rape, a (LGBT) civil rights movements, "Argentina was the first (and tomodification to an existing law that homophobia is rife across the continent, date the only) Latin Americanallowed abortion only if the rape victim even in those countries where same sex country to legalise gay marriagewas mentally disabled. The second bill couples are recognised. and adoptions, with a law thatis the ‘Ley de Identidad de Géneros’ This is manifested in violent attacks was passed in 2010, joining just a(Gender Identity Law), which if passed and murders of LGBT people; the most handful of countries thatwill allow Argentinean citizens to extreme example is in Ecuador, where recognise gay marriage. It haschange their name and gender on their young women are sent to horrific some of the most progressive lawsnational identity cards. If passed, it will “clinics” to be “cured” of being promoting gender and sexualreaffirm Argentina’s status as the Latin lesbians. High numbers of homophobic rights in the entire region."American leader in gender and sexual attacks and homicides have also been
LGBT Latin America parties has had a profound impact on preventing the passing of laws that would recognise gay marriage. This has Global hunger most notably taken place in Chile, where the Christian Democrat party has fight depends on blocked several bills to recognise same sex couples. In Argentina, such parties better water use- do not exist, limiting the power of the Church within Congress. says U.N. chief Another reason may be Argentina’s high level of transnational legalism, referring to the ease with which Argentina imports international norms and adopts them domestically. While this is high throughout Latin America, Argentina is undoubtedly the regional leader (incidentally, the US has a very low level of transnational legalism). This means that proponents of LGBT Two transgender partygoers pose for photos at the civil rights have borrowed heavily from The world will only be able to feed a Gay Pride March in Buenos Aires. On the LGBT rights activists around the world, rapidly growing population if it previous page the authors friends posing with a often replicating their arguments improves the use of water, the "most reveler at the Gay Pride March in Buenos Aires verbatim. This is not to say that the critical finite resource", the head of LGBT rights movement in Argentina the United Nations said on the WorldThis is no less true in Argentina. lacks domestic resources. The agenda Water Day.However, the difference in Argentina is of the LGBT movement was cast as part "Unless we increase our capacitythat, despite the obstacles faced, LGBT of the country’s broader agenda on to use water wisely in agriculture, wecivil rights are advancing, seemingly behalf of feminism, gender, will fail to end hunger and we willwith support from the wider public. So reproduction, health, and sexuality, open the door to a range of other ills,why, despite the dominance of which have been part ofArgentina’s including drought, famine andrelatively progressive leftist legislative agenda for decades. They political instability," U.N. Secretarygovernments dominating the Latin used innovative strategies, such as General Ban Ki-moon said in aAmerican political arena, is Argentina encouraging gay couples to request statement.unique in its efforts to improve gender marriage licences, and when these Global food output must doubleand sexual equality? The strong LGBT requests are refused, to challenge the from 2005-2007 levels in developingcivil rights movement and high levels refusal on constitutional grounds. countries and rise 70 percent inof urbanisation and education only go Popular support for the cause was developed nations to feed a worldso far in explaining the phenomenon, probably also won due to the actions of population expected to rise to 9since these are also found in other Latin the Church, whose polarizing rhetoric billion in 2050 from about 7 billionAmerican countries. became increasingly and openly now, according to U.N. estimates. There are several possible factors discriminatory towards the LGBT While an average human drinks 2that may contribute to Argentina’s avant population. to 4 litres of water every day, it takesgarde approach to gender and sexual Ultimately, the final say lies with 2,000 to 5,000 litres of water toequality. The first is that, despite being President Fernandez, who took the risk produce one persons daily food, thea predominantly Catholic country, of confronting the Church and passing U.N. Food and Agricultureattendance within the Catholic Church, the controversial law. There are a Organization (FAO) reports.In manyat roughly 22%, is relatively low myriad of reasons that she may have parts of the world, the pace ofcompared with its Latin American chosen to do so, both domestic and agricultural production growth hascounterparts, as well as with the US. foreign, ranging from further splitting been slowing while water scarcity isThis is significant because the Catholic an already fragmented opposition to increasing and climate change isChurch, in Argentina as elsewhere in advancing Argentina’s position as the exacerbating risk and unpredictabilityLatin America, has been strongly Latin American vanguard of gender and for farmers, especially poor ones, Banopposed to the legalisation of gay sexual rights. said.marriage. Moreover, the Evangelical It is impossible to pinpoint one Two-thirds of the worldspopulation, at just 2%, is tiny, reason that distinguishes Argentina population could be living undercompared to a growing number of from other countries in the region; water stressed conditions by 2025, thefollowers in Mexico and Brazil and a many have similar histories of military FAO said.huge following in the US. This means dictatorships, and financial and political To ensure sustainable food andthat despite fierce opposition to gay crises. But in Argentina, a particular set water security for everyone, the worldmarriage, the Evangelical Church has of socio-political factors seems to have must boost investments in people,very little influence. combined to make it the regional leader infrastructure, production and A second key factor may be the in progressive social policies. The rest education as well as improve waterseparation of church and party; most of the region may have some way to go, management, FAOs Director Generalcountries in the region separate church but it is likely that sooner or later they Jose Graziano da Silva said. (Byand state, but this may not be enough. will follow suit. Svetlana Kovalyova for Alertnet)Strong opposition from Christian
Cover Story GSDM April 201 2WAR& PEACEIN TheDemocratic Republicof the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo is rebel movements threatened to overtake parts genocide of the civilian Tutsi minority in not officially at war, but for decades the of the country in 1964 and in 1977–78, Rwanda. According to some estimates, ordinary Congolese havent experienced Western powers intervened with military around 800,000 people were killed in a few an essence of peace either. After years of support. Even during the last months of months . bloodshed and devastation, the DRC is Mobutu’s reign in 1997, France allegedly The RPA and its leader Major Colonel staggering towards normalcy, but after organized the hiring of foreign mercenaries in Paul Kagame managed to conquer Kigali and order to avoid the dictator’s fall from power. oust the Hutu government. Fearing Tutsi brief intervals the country finds itself In the 1970s, Mobutu and his cronies revenge, around 1.2 million Hutu, including rebound into violent conflicts again and seriously started to lay their hands on the some 40,000 of the militia responsible for again. This edition of Global South country’s wealth. In a process called the genocide, fled to the North and South Development Magazine tries to analyse ‘Zairianization’, key economic sectors were Kivu provinces in neighboring Zaire. At this some of the issues that have been put under direct state control Mobutu’s point, Mobutu saw an opportunity to regain responsible for prolonging conflict and kleptocratic regime was coupled with poor the initiative. He agreed to host the refugees unrest in the DRC. The first section will growth rates and a mounting public external on Congolese soil and thereby became a give a historical timeline of the DRC debt. International donor pressure and the end partner to international aid organizations. The followed by an account of our DRC of the Cold War finally forced Mobutu to move also allowed him to regain some correspondent from the field. This abandon one-party rule in 1990. He also respectability, at least in the eyes of the became more marginalized as the government French, who once again embraced him. editions interview section and the in Kinshasa assumed some of his former At the same time, Mobutu used the inflow editors column have been dedicated to powers. But Mobutu would make an of Hutu to instigate hostilities towards the the DRC issue as well. unexpected comeback on the world scene. Banyamulenge, a people ofTutsi origin who had lived in eastern Congo for generations. The DRC: A The Rwanda Genocide and the War Against Mobutu: 1994–97 To understand the insurgency against The parliament even decided that the Banyamulenge should lose their citizenship. In October 1996, the governor of South Kivu historical Timeline earlier developmentstwo neighboring groups, Mobutu in 1996, it is necessary to recount in Rwanda. Rwanda’s major ethnic ordered the Banyamulenge to leave their homes within a few days. In desperation, they turned to their Tutsi cousins in Rwanda for Congo gained independence from Belgium the Hutu and the Tutsi, had fought a help. in 1960 but immediately fell into a state of smallscale civil war since 1990 when an army The new rulers in Rwanda had an even chaos and disintegration. In 1965, Colonel ofTutsi rebels (RPA), hosted and supported greater grievance on their hands. The Hutu Joseph Mobutu seized power through a coup by Uganda, invaded the country. The militia used the refugee camps in Kivu as a quietly approved by the Western powers, and dramatic turning point happened in 1994 base for attacks against the Tutsi-dominated changed the country’s name to Zaire and his when Rwanda’s Hutu president Habyarimana regime in Rwanda. Helped by Mobutu, they own to Mobutu Sese Seko. Zaire became an was killed along with Burundi’s president became a serious threat to the new important pawn in the Cold War as an after their plane was shot down. Although it government’s security. In September 1996, African bastion of anti-communism. This is still not clear who was responsible for this the RPA joined the Banyamulenge and helped Mobutu to hold his gigantic and attack, extremist Hutu groups drew their own attacked the Hutu refugee camps on ethnically divided country together. When conclusions and soon started a systematic Congolese soil.
Cover Story War & Peace in DR CongoThey were soon joined by several anti- which in turn led Kabila to marginalize export of natural resources. This phaseMobutu rebel groups and engaged in the Tutsi and Banyamulenge members of involved both foreign and Congolesebattles against government forces. his administration. A more plausible actors. Both phases were greatlyAmong the groups that joined the explanation for this action could be that facilitated by the strong transportationrebellion was a small one called PRP led that Kabila, perhaps inspired by the networks put in place during the firstby Laurent Kabila. Kabila belonged to actions of Mobutu before him, was war.Lumumba’s socialist faction in the desirous of keeping the financial gain Economic data collected by the UN1960s, but after Mobutu’s consolidation from Congo’s resources for himself. illustrate the trends in mineral exports inof power, Kabila and his men withdrew Whatever the explanation, Kabila Uganda and Rwanda for the years 1994to the South Kivu mountains where they dismissed a Rwandan military officer of to 2000 and the trends in mineralformed something of a mini-state. Not Tutsi ethnicity as chief of staff for the production in Rwanda for the years 1995much is known of his activities from Congolese armed forces in July 1998. He to 2000. Uganda had no reported coltanthen on, except that during long periods then went one step further, sending the or niobium production after 1995, whilehe made a living as a gold smuggler. commander and his Tutsi Rwandan exports increased steadily between 1997 From late 1996 he suddenly appeared comrades-in arms back to Rwanda on 27 and 1999. Finally, neither Uganda noras the leader of the newly formed July 1998. This move was an apparent Rwanda has any known diamondAlliance of the Democratic Forces for attempt to pre-empt a coup, and was a production.the Liberation of Congo (ADFL). It was direct cause of the rebellions that took In the case of Zimbabwe, however,therefore suspected that Kabila was place in both Goma and Kinshasa six there is evidence of extensivesomething of a puppet, at least initially – days later. commercial activity in the form of jointsuspicions that were later confirmed in After the failure of these rebellions, ventures and mining concessions.interviews with Rwanda’s strongman troops from Rwanda and Uganda entered Natural resource extraction, particularlyPaul Kagame. The ADFL and their Tutsi Congo in August 1998. Both countries mineral extraction, fuelled thecomrades immediately remarkably stated security reasons for the continuation of the conflict in Congo.successful. Mobutu’s unpaid army, which deployment. The crisis escalated when Rwanda’s military benefited directlyhe had kept weak and divided so that it Rwandan troops, with some support from the war in various ways. The mostwould not pose a threat to himself, from Uganda, attempted to seize significant of these has been themelted away as the Tutsi veterans Kinshasa. At this point, Zimbabwe and extraction of coltan, the price of whichapproached. During their march Angola intervened on behalf of the rose phenomenally between late 1999westwards, some 200,000 Hutu refugees Kabila government, saving it from and late 2000. The UN estimates that thewere allegedly killed, and conquered collapse. Namibia, Chad, and Sudan Rwandan military could have beenmines were looted. would later join Kabila’s allies, although selling coltan for as much as $20 million The old Cold War allies Belgium and Chad and Sudan withdrew relatively per month.This allowed Rwanda tothe United States declared that they early. continue its presence in Congo,would no longer come to Mobutu’s Angola entered the war in Congo protecting individuals and companiesrescue. Only France, frightened by the primarily for security reasons; UNITA who provided minerals. In some cases,prospect of an English-speaking new rebels had been using Congo to launch the Rwandan army went so far as toregime, remained Mobutu’s friend to the attacks on Angola. Namibia had no attack rebel groups in order tobitter end. On 17 May 1997, Kinshasa immediate security concerns, but rather appropriate their coltan supplies. Whilesurrendered to Kabila’s troops and the supported Kabila based on a decision by the Ugandan government was notold dictator fled the country. President Nujoma, which was mostly directly involved in the extraction of symbolic in nature. Zimbabwe does not natural resources, it did not take actionThe Great African War: 1998– share a border with Congo, and did not against military and businessmen whoEarly in his presidency, Kabila showed face any security threats. The reasons for participated in this activity.signs of moving towards one-man rule. its involvement seem to be related to However, several events have improvedHis control over state resources was investments made in Congo by the the chances of ending the conflict inhighly personalized, and public government and Zimbabwean Congo. The first is Joseph Kabila’s riseenterprises were not managed in any businesses. to power after the assassination of hislong-term sense of the word but rather Economic gain appears to have been a father in early 2001. The younger Kabilaused to rapidly generate finances through powerful motivator in this war, and there seems to have shown interest in finding aindiscriminate concession granting is a general consensus that Rwanda’s and solution to the conflict and reinstatingCorruption, patronage, and lack of Uganda’s armies quickly began to shift democracy in Congo. Agreementsaccountability came to characterize their attention to commercial enterprise focusing on the transition of theKabila’s presidency, rather than the and exploitation. The gains from these Congolese government towardshoped for democracy and national activities were used to enrich the democracy have been signed, and foreigndevelopment. governments involved, finance the troops have withdrawn from Congolese Kabila’s alliance with Rwanda and continuation of the war, and pay soil. However, optimism must beUganda was strong immediately individual soldiers. tempered given the persistent fightingfollowing his rise to power. His The plunder of Congo’s natural between rebel groups in the northeasterngovernment contained many Tutsi (both resources took place in two phases. The part of Congo. This has led the UN toRwandan and Congolese) and first involved the wholesale looting of adopt Resolution 1493, which authorizesBanyamulenge in top political and existing stockpiles and took place in the the deployment of UN peacekeepers.military positions. This placed a strain on occupied regions of Congo during the (Timeline text source: Congo: The PrizeKabila’s legitimacy, as most Congolese first year of the second war. The second of Predation by Ola Olsson & Heatherregarded them as foreign occupiers, phase involved systematic extraction and Congdon Forse )
Country profile The Democratic Republic of the Congo Official language: French(official), Lingala,Kingwana,Kikongo, Tshiluba Ethnic groups: Over 200 ethnic groups,the majority are Bantu; the four largest tribes – Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic) make up about 45 % of the population. By CAROLYNN LOOK Religion: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other (includes syncreticUntamed jungles, breathtaking nature, and the Congolese to fill with their own people. sects and indigenous beliefs) 10%abundant mineral resources aren’t all that However, a crisis developed that same Human Development Index: 0.286;make up this fierce ‘heart of darkness’. year between the two leaders, when rank 187 out of 187 (last)Whether for its six name changes in the Kasavubu kicked Lumumba out of office. EDUCATIONcourse of a little more than a century, its The appointed chief of staff of the new -Literacy 67.2% (male 80%, femaleimportant role in African relations, or its army, Joseph Mobuto, used the moment of 54.1%)“God-forsaken wilderness” described by tension and the financial support from the ROLE OF WOMENJoseph Conrad, we have all heard of this U.S. and Belgium to stage a coup in 1965, -Widespread rape and other forms ofAfrican giant in one way or another. under the pretext of wanting to maintain sexual violence, often by government Pre-colonial Congo was well known for order. He renamed the nation ‘Democratic security officialsits iron and copper technology, but was Republic of the Congo’, and later, in 1971, -Almost no representation inheavily disrupted by slave trading in its to ‘Republic of Zaire’, where he became governmentEastern regions around the 16th century. By famous for the relative stability he created CHILDRENthe time King Leopold II of Belgium and his promotion ofAfrican nationalism in -Child soldiers recruited by LRAofficially claimed ‘Congo Free State’ at the renaming the cities and rivers. However, he (Ugandan), FDLR (Rwandan), and1885 Conference of Berlin, he had a clear was also known for his extensive violationidea about how much he would gain due to of human rights and corruption, which was FARDC (Congolese)the region’s mineral wealth, and was ready aided by receivingfinancial support from -28.2% under age of 5 are underweightto exploit the local people at all costs. He the U.S. government for his opposition to -Low quality education limits futureestablished intricate infrastructure projects communism in the heat of the Cold War. FREEDOMand a high-yielding rubber industry, whose Inner tensions bubbled up and ended up -Abuses by armed groupshigh output quotas he managed to maintain forcing Mobuto out of the country in 1997, -Unlawful killingsby threatening the local population with after he failed to reform his corrupt -High number of internally displacedbrutal displays of limb chopping. Many policies, and the country took back its people and refugeesdied due to extensive exploitation and name of ‘Democratic Republic of the -Torture and other ill-treatmentdisease, but the King’s actions were soon Congo’. At the same time, the Rwandan -Prevalence of death penaltymet by international protests and led to the conflict spilled over to its big neighbour, -Poor administration of justicehanding over of power to the Belgian with Rwandan and Ugandan militia joining ECONOMYgovernment in 1908. The situation in the the unsuccessful local rebels in their -GDP per capita: $300 (2011 est.)newly named ‘Belgian Congo’ improved overthrow of Mobuto. This strong coalition -Much economic activity still occurs ingreatly, but despite its social and economic of armies was led by Laurence-Désiré the informal sector, and is not reflectedadvancements, the region’s people still Kabila, who, after their successful coup, in GDP datasuffered under the patronizing eye of the hoped the foreign armies would leave due -Mining is the source of most exportwhite man. to his suspicion of their true intentions. income In 1960, the parliament implemented by They, however, began to fight their former -An uncertain legal framework,the Belgian government was for the first ally. The conlfict transformed into a large-time overtaken by the growing nationalist scale war involving nine African nations, corruption, and a lack of transparencymovement led by Patrice Lumumba, known 5.4 million deaths, and five years of in government policy are long-termas the Mouvement National Congolais. He horrific scale violence dubbed as the problems for the mining sector and forwas appointed Prime Minister next to ‘African world war’. Due to efforts of the the economy as a wholeJoseph Kasavubu as the elected President. international community, the conflict ENVIRONMENTThe ‘République de Congo’ achieved its ‘officially’ ended in 2003, but government -Deforestation (overuse of wood forindependence soon thereafter, and it was instability, conflict, and human rights fuel)then that most of the left over Europeans abuses continue to this day, resulting in -Increases in urban populationfled the country, leaving empty one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes -Issues in protection of wildlifeadministrative and military positions for ever seen. -air pollution from vehicles and water pollution from sewage
Cover Story War & Peace in DR CongoDRC Diary: A reflection fromthe field! By EMILY LYNCH Emily Cavan Lynch, Global South Development Magazines country correspondent for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, also works for an international relief organization as a public health consultant. In this article Emily shares her everyday experience in the DRCongo and presents a holistic picture of a war troddon society that is struggling to overcome decades long trauma of bloodshed and killings, yet finds it caught up in new forms of unrest and conflict everyday.Since 2009 Eastern Congo has gained conversation from one that ought to bea certain reputation. Through the well- focused on a much broader scope ofintentioned efforts of caring individuals, needs and causing, in some cases, farthe relief of organizations searching for more harm than good (offer a woman The donors of the currenta convenient way to define the muddle who lives on less than $1 a day $60, or a system of international aid areof armed groups and ongoing conflict, $100 sewing machine, to testify that she not think-tanks, philosophersand the perpetual funders need to be was raped and see what you do for theable to measure progress, Congo is these perceived credibility of anyone else who or academics. They aredays known to most in the developed has been raped). program managers, lobbyists,world as the “rape capital of the world.”Last spring the American Journal of The history and instability of Eastern Congo is generally framed as impossibly bureaucrats and politiciansPublic Health dropped the media bomb complicated; and in the need to address with constituencies. Theythat the number of rapes per day in it, international actors are caught need a hat stand. They need aCongo had been grossly underestimatedand was 26 times higher than a previous unprepared. hook. They need it to be a The donors of the current system of sound clip, for goodness sake!UN report had estimated, with at least international aid are not think-tanks,1,152 women raped every day (equal to philosophers or academics. They are48 per hour). program managers, lobbyists, This phrase and associated imagery bureaucrats and politicians withhas been the inspiration behind constituencies. They need a hat stand.international advocacy and fund-raising They need a hook. They need it to be aefforts, documentaries and news sound clip, for goodness sake. into an already devastated country afterfeatures, the allocation of monies for bi- Stretched taught between the last a 50 year absence. Developmentlateral donors, and the program civil war and something currently organizations, on the other hand, comestrategies thus dictated to any number of resembling stability, Eastern Congo is a in when people are no longer fleeing forNGOs funded by them. funders dilemma. their lives, when schools are again open Yet it is an identity neither chosen In the system of international aid, and kids can be given uniforms and(nor in most cases even known) by the implementers usually specialize in one books, when there is some sort ofmajority of people implicated in its of two categories: humanitarian government or civil society frameworkreach. It has also become something that organizations are called for when to enable foreign organizations to docertain organizations have grown to tsunamis wipe out an entire coastline, their work, and when their teams are notdetest, watching it grow from one when 120,000 people flow into a being hijacked, their bases are not beingimportant voice in the dialogue to an refugee camp built for 40,000, when stormed by armed men, and there are nooverfed red herring of the system, hospitals overflow with people starving longer deadly skirmishes between armeddistracting, in their view, the or wounded, and when cholera floods groups.
Cover Story War & Peace in DR Congo These two categories of organizations phrases, beginning with “general have entirely different cultures, rules, population.” People said: beneficiary, Unfortunately, political capacities, funding limitations and displaced, sick or ill, vulnerable, victim. resolutions do not always paradigms. They may partner with each other, and though they are often Then I asked for their associations with the word incivique, which means filter down to daily reality, indistinguishable by those not working something like “criminal” or “civil and in this changeable in the sector, they are in no way disturber”. They responded quickly: world a resolution today interchangeable, without inviting disastrous implications (see: Haiti after immoral, delinquent, rapist, assassin, bandit. The first group of words are does not dictate peace the earthquake or Indonesia after the those with which we associate sympathy tomorrow. Eastern Congo is tsunami). and empathy; we usually want to help no longer considered to be Following the political end to the the vulnerable. The second group of in a state war. Rather, it has most recent large-scale conflict in DRC words are about actions and are framed in 2009, the world of international aid in terms of blame and contradiction to a been in a state of low-to- (e.g. the funders) decided that it was norm, encouraging the feeling that moderate level conflict and time to transition from an emergency whereas the first group deserves our instability , with a handful intervention to a framework of long-term development, feeling that Congo was sympathy and help, the second group can be ostracized and blamed. After the of villages pillaged every close enough to a kind of peace that the exercise I raised these points and asked month, consistent waves of priority could change from flying in food the group, but does this mean that the hundreds to thousands of rations and UN helicopters to supporting school fees, funding economic “inciviques” are not part of the population? Because of the diversified people fleeing into the development programs and sorting out nature of the conflict in this region they bush out of fear of attack, whatever residual trauma remained most definitely are, and everyone regular targeted killings or through piece-meal psychosocial immediately pointed that out, laughing skirmishes between armed programs. as they did so at the obvious Unfortunately, political resolutions do contradiction. groups, and one or two not always filter down to daily reality, However it was a good reminder (and incidents of mass rapes and in this changeable world a resolution intended as such) that what we call (and yes, ongoing and today does not dictate peace tomorrow. Eastern Congo is no longer considered to someone influences how we feel towards them, and how we feel towards someone pervasive sexual violence) be in a state of full-out war. Rather, it influences how we act, how far we go to every half year or so. has been in a state of low-to-moderate help them and how much we do to hurt level conflict and instability , with a them. handful of villages pillaged every month, In the Kivu region of Congo – where consistent waves of hundreds to the majority of the conflict and thousands of people fleeing into the instability is concentrated – it is in these bush out of fear of attack, regular names and underlying associations that targeted killings or skirmishes between we get lost. There are so many armed armed groups, and one or two incidents groups and their alliances, histories and of mass rapes (and yes, ongoing and loyalties so complicated that in general pervasive sexual violence) every half conversation we just call them this, year or so. “armed groups,” rather than trying to With informed analysis and an ear to name them all. What we actually mean the ground, there is a certain amount of can range from members of the official predictability. Where there are schools, Congolese army to a successful most are still open. Some branches of the shopkeeper in some village who gives government function a bit. Most of the guns to a group of 19 year olds and tells time you are not hijacked on the road. them to rob a truck on its way to market. Outbreaks of preventable epidemics One of the hindrances of the remain inexcusably frequent but people traditional vocabulary of war is that we are used to their cyclical nature and take talk about civilians and soldiers or armed them in some amount of stride, keening actors as if they are clearly separated for and burying their dead out of sight of groups. The distinction is important (and most who can help, and out of mind of considered a very useful thing) in terms most who should be held accountable. of international humanitarian law; it allows the international community to who suffers the most? agree on (and, more importantly, have a The other day I conducted a focus group basis for prosecution based on) with representatives from various ethnic principles such as that of limiting groups in North Kivu. We started off collateral damage, meaning that a with an exercise about perceptions called military strategy should avoid “quick thinking,” where I asked them to implicating civilians (e.g. if you must tell me the first words that popped into attack a village as part of an offensive their head when I mentioned several strategy, you should not rape, pillage and murder civilians as well, but rather
Cover Story War & Peace in DR Congo One surprising benefit to a country with such high levels of instability and under-development is that you do see, in precarious measure, a slight protective effect on the ecosystem. Congos burden is its wealth; its wealth is its burden. In its purgatorial state – not at war, yet hardly at peace - the non-profit world still leans towards a the lower Congo river in boats, hats, and step up to the plates of their humanitarian inclination; vaccinating hundreds of children during promises. But, in truth, none of these hopes have few others are willing to, or the day in churches and shaded courtyards and camping each night in the materialized. have the capacity to deal mud yards of tiny health centers. Traveling throughout North and South with the still frequent That week we also shared the river Kivu these days you get the most profound sense - not that it is being used reality of armed robberies with puttering boats transporting voting boxes, election officials and the same as a proxy battlefield for competing and violent attacks on their gentian violet dye that we used to mark interests (as might be presumed from the houses, vehicles and the pinkie fingers of all of the children press) but rather that it has been largely abandoned. Controlled, oppressed, stifled projects. who had been vaccinated already. and forgotten. In the North, baboons play Exhausted in my tent at night I had on the roofs of the abandoned buildings multiple confused dreams about putting This is not a poor country; used needles into the ballot boxes instead at what used to be the entrance and it is a country where a very of election papers, and of accusations of stopover to Virunga National Park. Guards still lift the gate for vehicles to few people in power refuse fraud by election observers accusing us of marking the fingers of babies who pass through but now, as you drive past to direct the wealth of the were not even eligible for school, let them and wave, it is not with the country to those who by alone for voting. expectation of seeing mountain gorillas; it is instead with worry about seeing their birthright own it. In the end, the elections passed by armed guerillas. with a sort of peace truce, if not actually But these sentiments have all been a set of comprehensive results. Since that negative. What else of Congo these days? time the international community has One surprising benefit to a country with mumbled and grumbled and even such high levels of instability and under- published various official objections to development is that you do see, in dissociate themselves from what precarious measure, a slight protective everyone generally now agrees was, at effect on the ecosystem. Of course you best, an inadequate electoral process. also see total destruction of ecosystems But for a time afterwards it felt that if but at least where there no roads, the Congo did not have the 100% democracy accompanying human chaos is also that the Western observers were looking limited. Caught in mud up to our hubcaps for, it might at least have avoided one day, I bent down to the shock of disintegrating again into civil chaos. And grasses that our guide had just cut for those who live here, that was not an through with his machete. In this random inconsequential result. spot on a hillside in South Kivu, and Unfortunately, in Eastern Congo at without even searching, I saw more than least, that feeling has now been replaced ten insects crawling about and I heard a with a sense of apprehension. The cacophony of others. Crunching, elections provided a possibility that munching, crawling. It was an things might change; the disputes of the astonishing experience. results maintained that sense of hope, leading some to think that perhaps, with all the international criticism the old Role of international players political status quo might change; Congos burden is its wealth; its wealth is perhaps the politicians would put on new its burden.I live on the Rwandan
Cover Story War & Peace in DR Congo /Congolese border, on the shores of the “right-holders”) in the system oflimnic Lake Kivu, in Goma, a town that international aid? To whom is the aidgrew on the substrate of the Rwandan community accountable? If we have beengenocide as passageway for tens of acting in the place of the governmentthousands of refugees. Settled at the base then why should the population not beginof a still-active volcano, Goma is now a to ask us to be more accountable as adusty base for NGOs, UN deployments, government? If we did not want the role,miners and business people profiting then why did we take it? And can wefrom cross-border trade, as well as an reject it now, while still wanting toongoing mixture of floating expatriates maintain our invested presence?who fit no clear category. What is primarily fascinating to me is In its purgatorial state – not at war, yet that in this region of Congo thehardly at peace - the non-profit world government has been for so long sostill leans towards a humanitarian ineffective and seemingly uninterested in Today, as I write this, weinclination; few others are willing to, or providing its most basic match to the received news of a newhave the capacity to deal with the stillfrequent reality of armed robberies and social contract that the international community has felt obligated to invest in group of 20,000 peopleviolent attacks on their houses, vehicles the long-term. It has saved lives, displaced in the southand projects. There is a sprinkling of certainly; for all extents and purposes the because of attacks on theirsmaller development NGOs as well whohave tried to break into a range of longer- people of Congo seem to be an expendable resource for their towns and villages, andterm goals. But donors are trigger shy. government. another 3-5,000 displacedWho wants to invest in a place where any In fact, the longer you stay in the across the border in theday the city might be threatened by rebel country the more unbelievable it north, as well as variousgroups, the smoldering volcano might becomes that people here are living in villages pillaged and emptiedrumble over again as it did in 2002, or abject poverty.the methane-floored lake might erupt, This is not a poor country; it is a in the center of the country.with earthquakes and mythical tsunamis? country where a very few people in Surrounding the aid community arethe various branches of the UN, with power refuse to direct the wealth of the country to those who by their birthright We are often trained, in theMONUSCO (the so-called peace-keeping own it. West, to view poverty andmission in DRC) lumbering or hovering In Eastern DRC the aid community the suffering of people livingby at all times in Goma, and throughout has been present for decades, during in conditions of conflict asthe region. They have a staff which time the government has been very sad and inevitablephotographer who takes beautiful largely absent (in terms of providingphotographs, run a radio station known anything for the people) and international things.for decent journalistic standards and actors have been invited in for their ownotherwise maintain a mission whose benefit. The aid communitys investmentsilence speaks loudly to those in search in this area of the world has begun toof transparency. They are a “peace- strike those who live here as shallow.keeping” mission but what peace, in fact, Those of us in the aid community like toare they keeping? And whose peace? distinguish between ourselves and theThey are questions for which I do not, UN forces. But for the population I dobut I imagine that someone does, have not believe there is any such clearthe answer. distinction. In spite of whatever efforts, What is interesting about being in most people are still living withoutDRC at this time in history is that civil employment, without access to basicgroups (students, representative of healthcare, without access to educationgrassroots NGOs, womens groups) have and with an unreasonably high level ofalso begun to ask why, when the aid insecurity that often enough turns tocommunity has now been here for terror and fleeing.decades, and the UN semi-occupies their Today, as I write this, we receivedtowns, the situation is still so bad for the news of a new group of 20,000 peoplepopulation. displaced in the south because of attacks This questioning may take the form of on their towns and villages, and anotherthreats to NGOs for what are seen as 3-5,000 displaced across the border inbiased recruitment practices, or the north, as well as various villagesdemonstrations against the aid pillaged and emptied in the center of thecommunity in general. I work for an country. These numbers are difficult toNGO, so this kind of response is perhaps care about. Perhaps that sounds cold butprofessionally concerning but I find it is it not true for most of us, much of thepersonally fascinating, and cannot quite time? Life is complicated and busy; whatavoid a sense of pride when I see it. In does it mean that 20,000 people werethe last 25-30 years, where have been the displaced? They were not killed, orvoices of these “beneficiaries” (or, as a drowned, or burned, or dying from carfriend of a friend once called them, these crashes. They just had to move.
Cover Story War & Peace in DR Congo In our garden on the edge of Lake works” to a new expat. He tossed his suffering does as well.Kivu, the morning sun distributes itself hands around, trying to illustrate the We are often trained, in the West, toas if committed to a black and white mess of armed groups and economic view poverty and the suffering of peoplespectrum: the qualities of brightness and power players - mining and living in conditions of conflict as verysaturation (flower stalks between the technological and pharmaceutical sad and inevitable things. I certainlylava rock walls, grass blades rolling into companies - the way they are all grew up thinking this: how sad that therethe ripples on the shimmering and subsidiaries of the other, who is loyalist are poor people who cannot eat and areoceanic surface of the lake) somehow to, and who is enemy of whom, what caught in war; we must take them food,carry more meaning than the color. The Rwanda wants, what the government we must bring them to a place of peace.color is so saturated (fuscia, orange, wants, what China and Europe want, andwhite-green new leaves) that it almost also how to recognize the heart of aoutdoes itself, and leaves room in the soldier by the shape of his nose. It is themind only for form. pride of the foreigner here to be able to Congo is a riot of color, and the color recite these things; but their reports areso cinematic, and so real, that there is given with such gusto that it makes merarely a struggle to define its quality, or wonder how genuinely we would wantto pin down a moment in its transience, to remove the cause of such excellentand so somewhere in the experience of entertainment.these extremes the mind becomes oddly What is it, this quality of stability,free to see what is otherwise so often that allows us to live our lives? Wedisguised by beauty. speak about instability as the root causeForm. Depth. Movement. of so much suffering in eastern Congo, Today we will leave the city of Goma assuming or stating, that what we would I did not grow up thinking, “it is myto go 3-4 hours north to one of our wish for the country is for it to be stable responsibility to research theprojects, driving straight towards and the people to have this thing, pharmaceutical and technologicaltowering Nyirongongo. Yesterday I stability, otherwise defined as: countries that make the items I want towatched the steam trail of this hulking constancy, steadiness, firmness, fixity, buy because it is the market demand forvolcano pouring to the west, only 10km permanence. their products that is continuing thisfrom the city and for once free from But stability is not a goal in and of conflict a million human-paradigm yearshaze or clouds. As we drive north we itself; it is a consequence. away.”will see other volcanoes – baby ones, Yesterday we drove through a town I did not grow up thinking, “nobodygrandfather ones – one long chain of that seemed like a town. It was not in Congo should actually be living inseismic gasps in the earth’s surface. deserted or pillaged; it was full of poverty and the fact that they are is not a We are like Pompeii; our human normal life. Market women called out fatalistic sad fact of life. No. The facthistory ripe for repetition. greetings to passer-bys, or sat with that they are is a direct result of our (and The helicopters have begun again. It sleepy eyes next to piles of avocados. I speak of the world) choices.”is a measure throughout the world, or at Men repaired motorcycles next to shops. It is not an oversight of Motherleast throughout the UN-occupied Children gossiped in school uniforms. Nature that people in Congo are living inworld, that the number of helicopters Life seemed calm and, yes, stable. poverty and dying of preventableyou hear corresponds directly to the Just north of this town in the past diseases and violence; it is our ongoingstate of security of the country. Here, the month several thousands of people have investment in political and economichelicopters and the planes and the run from their homes across the border systems whose implementation, if notarmored vehicles and the egg-carton UN to Uganda, seeking refuge. Life in war is intent, is criminal: criminal because wetrucks with their legions of homesick like this; alternately calm and terrifying are making specific choices that allowsoldiers are omni-present and have and, often, simply surreal. these systems to continue, and we arebegun to multiply like bacteria in a petri Driving through North Kivu passing off the costs to those who cannotdish: exponential, overnight. We wish yesterday it occurred to me to remind object.they wouldn’t. We know that myself that I am living in a country at This is an abuse of power, and nopeacekeeping is only useful when there war. We prefer now – and it is probably matter how diffused we render theis war-making. We know that carrying officially classified this way – to say that responsibility, no matter how well weguns makes things worse, even when the Kivus are in a state of ongoing hide the links between death on theyou hope to make things better. instability and conflict. Ok, fine. ground and a product in the store, no I spent more than two years living in Then what, I wonder, is war? matter how many millions of dollars weRwanda. And although Rwanda is a Something well-defined? One group spend on conciliatory peacekeeping andworld and culture of its own, returning versus another? The groups micro-economic development efforts,to Congo last September still felt like internationally powerful and the cause we are still in the wrong. Quite simply.coming home; the film-set quality of considered admirable? We are in the wrong.central African light, the forehead knob Or is “war” simply a definition that is Human history is always ripe forgreetings, the petites aubergines: these useful for clarifying when and how and repetition, true, but we are the oneswere things I knew, and had already where another government is obligated choosing what it is that we will repeat.grown to love. to break the autonomy of a nation state (Photos used in the article: source UN, But Congo, or at least the region of and intervene, on an international level? under creative commons license. Emilythe Kivus, where I now live, is already But what autonomy, I ask? Our can be reached by email atloved by too many. Last night I heard worlds and our economies are inter- email@example.com and follow hersomeone try to explain the “way it all linked. Our minerals and our natural DRC experience on her blog resources cross all borders. Our human www.emilycavan.blogspot.com)