Friday, April 09, 2010

Military Presence and Aid Not the Answer

Increased military presence and aid alone will not prevent another Makombo Massacre.

By Noelle Barber

The tragedy in Northeastern Congo truly deserves our utmost attention and concern. First, the extent and persistence of the slaughter has resulted in an estimated 6 million deaths since 1996. Congolese in the northeast are brutalized and intimidated daily, men women and children live constantly with the threat of kidnap, rape, torture and death. Second, the extermination of the villages such as Makombo is something you and I, our Congress, and any person with a conscious and a piece of modern technology should take personally: This massacre is directly related to the highly profitable plunder of minerals, such as coltan, tungsten and cobalt, vital to our cell phones and computers. Mother Jones 2010: Blood and Treasure.

Indeed, the government in Kinshasa allows these massacres to continue, Rwandan and Ugandan leadership profit when villages of people are wiped out and enslaved to make room for unregulated resource mining. Yet the international community continues to provide the green light for both Kabila in Congo and Kagame in Rwanda and other international profit seekers to go on with their brutal business. Increased military presence and humanitarian aid will treat some of symptoms, but within this course of action, the underlying disease remains. For years to come it will cost a whole lot more than the 10 million dollars proposed in the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act to support and treat the victims of the world’s most brutal and deadly conflict.

It is excellent that the Los Angeles Times has made an effort to expose this horrifying incident to the American public and push for meaningful steps to end the conflict. Allow me to introduce an important perspective, one that cannot be ignored if Congo is to find a sustained and lasting peace within the country and along its borders. It is the voices and insights of the Congolese that must be heard, for in the end, the affairs of the Congo must be determined by the Congolese. Policy alternatives by Congolese.


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