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30,000 Flee Gunfire in DRC While Conservation Groups Salivate Over Satellite Photos

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Broken Baby in DRC

Note: I dislike using this photo illustration which I took in February in Goma--but it gets attention for the atrocities--perhaps this child can be the messenger. G. Nienaber

 

The morning broke in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo today with the sounds of gunfire as FARDC government forces fought with rebel troops in Kivu Province. 30,000 refugees fled in panic through the hills. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) does not believe the camps themselves were targeted, according to information supplied by MONUC.

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Meanwhile, in an absolutely stunning disconnect of priorities, conservation groups have been spewing out press notices that IKONOS satellite photos have been donated to them to monitor gorilla habitat. This, while 30,000 people are fleeing from gunfire n the region.

“GeoEye, Inc. a leading producer of satellite, aerial and geospatial information, recently announced the Foundation's donation of more than 1,000 square kilometers of high-resolution, IKONOS satellite imagery to international conservation groups to aid in gorilla preservation efforts. The recent massacre of a family of mountain gorillas in Africa's Virunga National Park prompted increased attention to this area, the home of 60 percent of the
world's gorilla population,” the press release reads.

Conservation organizations are all over themselves on the internet and listservs promoting this, while the most exploited people on the planet are suffering unimaginable horrors. Where is the mainstream media in a critical analysis of this?

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Kivu is in danger of becoming a killing field of humans once again—forget the gorillas and especially the conservation groups that are contributing to the horrors in Kivu.

In February of this year, I sat at a dinner table with Robert Muir of the Frankfurt Zoological society, who is directly involved with Wild Life Direct, and Robert Poppe, who is not working with the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature to secure funding for zoo animals.

Muir said, "We now have Nkunda where we want him."

What are these "conservationists" really doing  in the region?

“The situation is dramatic and critical as tens of thousands of internally displaced persons from the camps, mixed with local people who are also fleeing the fighting, jam roads leading to Goma under torrential rains,” UNHCR said in a press release.

According to reports from the area, thousands of people hauling tarpaulins, blankets and food silently trudged down the main road to Goma in the downpour.

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"There was loud gunfire. I fled with my four children but I don't know where to go," said Marie Katungu, a woman in her thirties surrounded by three of her children, as reported in a MONUC press release.

At Mungungu, the camps were almost deserted. Stragglers nearby hesitated to leave while others said they had returned but were prevented by the army from entering the camps. Many appeared terrified, MONUC said.

The refugees had been housed at five United Nations-run camps in and around the provincial capitol of Goma. In recent months, at least 375,000 Congolese have been forced to run for their lives from their homes in North Kivu Province—the scene of a continuing bloodbath since 1994.

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http://www.georgianne-nienaber.com

Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)
 

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