072_Global12_InFocus_DRC_V8

Global issue 12

In FocusThe Democratic Republic of Congo countries with similar population and eco- nomic development but no war. Most of these 5.4 million deaths would not have been by bullet or bomb. They were slow, lingering deaths caused by disease, displacement and poverty brought about di- rectly by the armed conflict. In 2008, I spent ten days with IRC doctors travelling up and down the Congo River in western Congo, visiting randomly chosen villages and re- gional hospitals. Despite being far from the main conflict zone in the east, it was with- out doubt one of the most desperate places I Credit: UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti have ever visited in over 25 years as a jour- nalist in war zones and across the develop- ing world. I saw abandoned farms, endless pockets of people made homeless by war or pillage, and almost no medical facilities. From that snapshot, and detailed discus- sions with IRC doctors, I’d say their esti- The UN Stabilization Mission has 19,000 uniformed personnel and an annual budget of $1.4 billion mate of over 5 million ‘excess dead’ over the decade could well be correct.  Why are external actors involved? Ituri region (convicted in The Hague in Other African countries have become in- March for using child soldiers) was a start. What is happening now? volved in the conflict because of the power But Lubanga is relatively marginal to the M23 controls significant parts of the east, vacuum caused by a weak Kinshasa govern- main conflict, which is in the Kivus. Con- including strategic border areas. The gov- ment and Congo’s mineral riches. Rwanda – versely, threatening to arrest Bosco Nta- ernment army is in control of all major cit- and its sometimes-ally Uganda – perceives a ganda may have been the catalyst for him ies – but only thanks to UN help. Joseph need for a buffer against the chaos of eastern to start the M23 rebellion to escape capture. Kabila, the son of Laurent, took over in Congo. Its business people also make money But the failure of international justice in 2001. His arrival in power gave a boost to there. Both have backed rebel groups in the Congo is not the fault of the ICC. Congo’s peace agreements. Joseph Kabila has won east, although Rwanda denies supporting the wars have been so widespread and complex two UN-monitored elections. His oppo- M23. In 1998, during the ‘Second Congo- that it’s difficult to know where to start. nents say he cheated. lese War’, Zimbabwe sent troops to protect There are at least 2 million people made Laurent Kabila in exchange for mineral con- What has been the human cost? homeless by conflicts across the country. cessions. Angola, Namibia and even fara- The respected medical charity, Interna- Corruption is widespread. Things are only way Chad took similar action. Most of these tional Rescue Committee (IRC), produced marginally better for most Congolese than foreign soldiers have now left. a detailed report that estimated the ‘excess at the height of the ‘First’ and ‘Second’ mortality’ during the decade 1997 to 2007 Congolese wars.● Has the International Criminal Court (ICC) (a period that included the ‘Second Congo- helped resolve the conflict? lese War’) was 5.4 million lives. ‘Excess Mark Doyle is the BBC’s International Not really. Making an example of Thomas mortality’ means how many more people Development Correspondent Lubanga, a warlord from the north-eastern have died in Congo compared with other 2000 - present  2000: UN Security 2002, July: Kabila and 2006, July-Nov: 2008, Aug: Further 2011, Nov: New Council approves a force Rwanda’s Kagame sign a Presidential and armed clashes in the elections in which to monitor the ceasefire, peace deal. parliamentary elections, east. Kabila’s claim of victory is but fighting spreads, and but no clear winner in the disputed. Rwandan and Ugandan 2002, Dec: Main rebel presidential poll. After a forces also clash. groups agree to peace run-off between Kabila deal negotiated in South and Jean-Pierre Bemba, 2001, Jan: Laurent Africa. the former is declared the Kabila is assassinated, winner. but is quickly succeeded 2004, Dec: New by his son, Joseph Kabila. fighting in the east. 2009, June: International Criminal 2006, May: UN Court orders Jean-Pierre peacekeepers try to Bemba to stand trial on disarm irregular forces. charges of war crimes dating back to 2002–03. 72 lwww.global-briefing.org fourth quarter 2012global


Global issue 12
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