Thousands Killed and more than a Million people have been forced to flee Congo- Reports

“Thousands of people have been killed including children and women and more than one million people have been forced to flee their homes in the DRC’s eastern Kasai region since the start of an insurrection nearly a year ago by the Nsapu Militia.  The Nsapu Militia are demanding the withdrawal of the nation’s military from that area. The fighting started when Kamwina Nsapu attacked security forces, the militia is mostly made up of Luba people and they are killing non-Luba people. This suggests that there is an ethnic component to the insurrection. This insurrection has evolved from rebellion against the state to ethnic cleansing.

There have been reports of children as young as two with limbs chopped off, at least two pregnant women” were sliced open and their babies mutilated” according to a report on SBS.com. A report done by the Catholic church on the June 19th, 2017 said” 20 villages had been completely destroyed, 10 of them by the DRC armed forces, four of them by tribal militias and six of them by unidentified forces. Reports from Zambia say that there are over 8,000 new Congolese refugee arrivals currently in Zambia with the number set to rise in the coming weeks. The United Nations says there are over 60,000 refugees and other asylum seekers in Zambia, they mostly come from Angola, DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda”.

This issue is not new there has been political instability in Congo for as long as I have been alive,  over 20 years ago DRC was involved in a war called the African great war that went on for five years killing 5.4 million people and displacing many. What is even more depressing is that Congo is one of the richest places on earth. The war in Congo has largely been under-reported compared to the middle east wars and has received next to nothing in terms of international help. As the report in the Economist reported, this is because the DRC has no strategic importance, it is two-thirds the size of  Western Europe, has heavy forest and has no telephones and paved roads.

Congo remains one of the most dangerous places in the world especially for women and children, rape and sexual violence is often used as a form of punishment and for the subjugation of communities. From the old to the young, the soldiers do not discriminate. The stories of rape and torture in Congo are so horrific that for an outsider they are hard to believe. What is even sadder is that according to one report, “the locals have accepted this, even women that have been attacked will tell you that this is just part of the Congolese life.”  I grew up In Zambia, I was 8 when the war broke out in 1998, I remember watching a horrific video of a man being beaten and then tossed from the top of a river dam on live national television.

DRC  like Papua New Guinea is still very tribal, the chief or the elder of the land has more say and power in the community than the state. What happens in these communities is because the government does not have the resources to maintain law and order. As a result, people take justice into their own hands, what we have is a retributive form of justice. People are elected to office not based on their qualification for the job, but based on the tribe they come from. As I have talked about in my other opinion pieces, tribalism creates group thinking. When your identity comes from the tribe with little outside interference, you view the thinking of people who do not belong to your tribe as “other” or insufficient at best. Congo has over 200 tribes, approximately 700 different languages and dialects are spoken. In my opinion, this could explain why Congo has never had peace in its 200-year history. Congo, Papua New Guinea, and Rwanda show us the dangers of identity politics.

Finally, the international community should do more about what is happening in Congo,  the great war killed 5.4 million people and many were displaced. This number is likely a lot higher but Africa is not good at keeping records on a good day let alone when at war. Most refugees from DRC flea to Zambia which is generally peaceful and welcoming, but can barely feed its own citizens much less 60,000 refugees.

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