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The Costliest War You Never Heard of

Black Press International.com, News Feature, William Reed Posted: Nov 14, 2008

As many as five million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A quarter million have perished in Darfur, western Sudan. Both are abominations, but only Darfur rates coverage in American media and subsequent concern by the public action. Genocide has been occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been occurring for years, and it's time concerned people asked "why has out attention been directed elsewhere?"

The DRC war is the widest interstate war in modern African history, yet western media has ignored the brutal conflicts to decry regime-change targets in Sudan and Zimbabwe. Formerly called Zaire, the DRC is the third largest country in Africa. Located in Central Africa, the Congo's eastern area hosts the world's deadliest conflict since World War II.

Quiet as kept, the DRC conflicts involve numerous foreign players, some within the immediate region, and some from Western and Asian capitals. Yet, it is unheard of among most Americans that rely on establishment-oriented forces to shape their perspectives. The DRC conflicts illustrate how the mainstream media skews information it presents us on Africa are skewed. Our perspectives on who is who and what is what among Africa are based on selective agendas of media, governments, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and lobby groups. One or two of scores of ongoing conflicts throughout the world are 'chosen' to be the subject of intense scrutiny and selective indignation very rarely on the basis of scale or the level of humanitarian emergency.

As illustrated in the Sudan and Zimbabwe situations, the West's selective consciousness only complicates things for Africans and peaceful resolution of their conflicts. Overlapping convulsions of ethnic and state-sponsored massacre have been occurring in the DRC since 1994 without a word of reproach from Washington. Americans boast "righteous indignation" claming "genocide is occurring" in Darfur. Yet, an ongoing holocaust with a human death toll approaching that of the Nazi's annihilation of Jews in World War II has been unfolding without a whiff of complaint.

Before Darfur needed "saving" by the West, the DRC was suffering back-to-back wars 1996 to 2002 that embroiled eight African nations. Congo is the richest country in the world for gold, diamonds, coltan and cassiterite. Eastern Congo's vast mineral wealth has fueled hatreds left over from the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which half a million Tutsis were slaughtered. More than a million Hutu extremists fled to Congo where they regrouped in brutal militia that continues conflicts in Congo.

More than you know, the war in Congo is about you. A UN investigation says it is a war led by "armies of business" to seize the metals that make our 21st-century society zing and bling. The silence in the West about Congo is because of conveniences we wish to maintain.

Currently the West is in the pocket of Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, an ethnic Tutsi and former general that quit the DRC army, claiming the government of President Joseph Kabila was not doing enough to protect minority Tutsis from Hutu extremists. Nkunda and his 6,000 force militia are based in Nkunda based forces in resource-laden North Kivu, an eastern DRC province dominated by anti-Rwandan militias.

Sadly, the situation does not lend itself to a "good guy" or "bad guy" upon whom the West can direct its indignation. The rhythm of the war is one in which DRC government troops loot and terrorize civilian populations, and when the rebels take areas they do the same. But, the situation requires immediate attention. In past weeks in strife-riven Kivu province 100,000 people were driven from their homes, 60 percent of whom are children.

So, when you pick your cell phone be aware of your involvement in this horrific war. North Kivu's key mineral resources include coltan. Nkunda funds his war by running illegal mining operations for coltan the main mineral used in cell phones and computer chips. Now that you know the horror occurring for Congo's civilians, are you willing to throw your cell phone aside to help establish peace so Congo's children can return home and go back to schools?

Related Articles:

What the World Owes Congo

Rwanda Report Accuses France of Hand in Genocide

What Next for Zimbabwe?

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