Sunday, August 13, 2006

Congo

As I write this the conflict between Israel-Hizbollah-Lebanon continues full force, although there is progress towards a cease fire agreement. I am sure that most of my readers share with me sadness at the tremendous loss of life and property as well as hopes for a swift cessation of hostilities there.

Although the above conflict has dominated the news for the past month, at least until the British arrested the airline terror suspects, it is not the deadliest armed conflict in our world today. I think the fighting in the Congo, which seems to have near perpetual civil and regional warfare, would qualify as that. I have read that the loss of life in the Congo is at a pace of 100,000 people per month. That sounds high, but even if it is greatly exaggerated it would still be more lives lost than in Israel and Lebanon. Not all the deaths are the result of direct combat; many are because of famine and diseases that persist because it is impossible to develop any sort of infrastructure given the many years of war there.

Yet we hardly ever hear news about the Congo. It is rarely on the front page of my newspaper and usually not even in the first section, and I can't help but wonder why. Is it because there are no nuclear weapons in the nations involved in the Congo fighting? Is it because the fighting is not near any large oil reserves? Maybe it's because the combatants are black and not Caucasian. Or could it be because we are all so tired of the news from Africa of poverty, hunger, disease, war, and corruption that we have given up on the continent?

I'm not sure of the answer. As in most complex situations, it is probably a combination of factors. But it hardly seems fair, does it? The death of a young Congolese child grieves his mother as much as the death of a Lebanese child does his.

7 Comments:

Anonymous maribeth, CNM said...

The Congo holds no power in the United States, and has no resources we depend on. Proof positive that motivation behind the Iraqi war has nothing with humanitarian concerns. Shall we examine the international crises and genocides most Americans don't even know - much less care - about?? It's just the business of democracy, folks. Life liberty and freedom for all. Errr... most.

4:57 PM  
Blogger the granola said...

There is a bit more to it than that, though.

You kind of hit on it, that those in the Congo are not caucasion. But it isn't about race. It is about culture.

Culturally, there has been a lot of attention directed where we have reinstalled the Jewish ethnicity to their homeland, after the Muslims had held it for hundreds of years, and the Brits had occupied recently. It is tied up in being the geographical center of Judaism and Christianity and a very important place for Islam. It is tied up in the Holocaust. In short, we feel deeply responsible and connected to the area.

Throw in the oil, and you have a recipe for tension that, even though fewer people may have died than in the Congo, is more likely to spark off a war of much larger proportions.

This does not lessen, and should not belittle in any way the sorrow and the fear of the Congonese people.

It is like Katrina. Is the loss of a job and home to Katrina any more devestating than the loss of a job and home to some other reason? It is all about where the attention is pointed, not how hard the actual circumstances are.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Eve C. said...

Wow, I think you may have hit the nail straight on its head! I have been wondering about this myself! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one. One day I hope to travel there and help out in any way I can. Thanks for your great post.

3:42 AM  
Blogger Flea said...

We have no friends, just interests. The tragedy is that we have no interest in the Congo.

Flea

9:58 PM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Thanks, all. Maybe there are just too many tragedies for us to care about them all.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congo has been in the news quite a bit lately, as they just had their first elections in forty years. The majority of the fighting ceased in 2003 and almost half a billion dollars in aid have poured into the country.

I really enjoy your blog, but maybe you should stick to what you know?

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fighting in the Congo isn't in the news because it isn't new. Granted, I'm too young to remember when it started, but the powers that be in the news business aren't and there is no compelling interest (religion, oil, nukes, whatever...) that makes the trading of bullets, as opposed to explosives and rockets, front page news.

6:11 PM  

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