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DR Congo's Historic Urgency.

By       Message Brian McAfee     Permalink
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The conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo are dire for millions of its people despite the fact that the Congo has more mineral wealth than any other part of the African continent. Over a quarter of a million people are displaced because of the civil war currently raging in the eastern part of the country. Women and children have been primary targets of both sides in the conflict with rape used as a weapon by both sides. The war between the government forces and "the Congress in Defense of the People" has overrun numerous small towns and villages targeting civilians, killing the men, raping the women, and in some cases, forcing the children to become child soldiers.

In the midst of this scenario there are mining encampments extracting cobalt, copper, diamonds, gold, silver, and zinc as well as uranium and timber. None of the massive wealth that the "Democratic" Republic of Congo have been allowed to reach the majority of the Congolese population that live in abject poverty. The outside acquisition of Congolese resources--many would say theft of--began in the Belgium colonial period of the Congo from 1885-1960.

In 1961, the Congo upon holding its first free election chose Patrice Lamumba. Lamumba wanted to use the country's resources to improve the lives of the Congolese people and develop relations with other poor people around the world. Shortly after his election as prime minister, Lamumba said "We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and free and liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese." Within a year, Patrice Lamumba was assassinated and replaced by Mobutu Sese Seko, who acquiesced to U.S. mining and hegemonic interests.

While Mobutu is no longer there, the mining interests are and the humanitarian needs that cry out are not being addressed sufficiently. The U.S. could and should step up to the plate. We owe it to them many times over. The humanitarian organizations such as Oxfam, UNICEF, and DIAKONIE Emergency Aid are having some positive impact, but from the reports coming out of the region, much more is needed and time is a factor.

Why do the majority of people in one of the richest places on earth continue to live in abject poverty?
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I am a Free-lance writer/researcher who lives in Michigan. I lived most of my life in Michigan but have also lived in California (from 1980 to 1988) and in Washington state from '78 to '79. I met and married a Thai woman while I was in California. (more...)
 

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