“Last September, a New York hedge fund, Och-Ziff Capital Management, was slapped with a record fine of $412 million for bribing President Joseph Kabila to get mineral concessions. If there is anywhere in the world where the rich nations have a moral, legal, and financial obligation to act, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the place”.
If you want to figure out how many people could eventually die in the latest outbreak of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, don’t look at the actual number killed since last August, mostly by the Congolese army and its allies: nearly 4,000. Instead, consider the estimated 1.3 million people in the central Kasai region who are fleeing for their lives. David Aronson, a long time DR Congo expert presently working in Kinshasa, the capital, points out that 95% or more of the estimated 5 million Congolese who have died since 1998 did not perish during actual fighting. Instead, they died of hunger and disease after they fled from the violence, already weakened by their struggle to survive during normal times in one of the poorest countries on Earth. So if we do the cold math, tens, maybe hundreds of thousands more could die, adding to what is already the greatest humanitarian disaster anywhere in the world since the end of World War II. If there is anywhere in the world where the rich nations have an obligation to act, Congo is the place. This awful tragedy is not unfolding in a remote region, disconnected from the rest of the planet. For more than a century, the Congolese people have mined copper, cobalt, and diamonds in industrial quantities, exploited by Europe and America. All they have left to show for their hard work is a devastated hulk instead of a functioning nation. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda haunts Africa and the world. That year, one of the murderous Rwandan regime’s first steps was to expel reporters and other foreigners, so it could continue the mass killing in secret.