Congo Watch: World ignores Republic of Congo's crisis - U.N.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

World ignores Republic of Congo's crisis - U.N.

Report by David Lewis in Kinkala, Congo, via Reuters 23 Apr 2005:

Less than 3 percent of funds needed to tackle a humanitarian emergency in the Republic of Congo have been received, highlighting the oil-producer's plight as a forgotten nation in crisis, the United Nations said.

Congo's civil war officially ended in 1999 but sub-Saharan Africa's fourth biggest oil producer has no peacekeeping force and is struggling to disarm former rebels who continue to attack civilians in the Pool region, far from international eyes.
"This is scandalous. We need to have a better response to this emergency," Aurelien Agbenonci, the head of the U.N. in Congo, told Reuters in an interview.

"Of the nearly $22 million needed, just over 20 percent has been promised and under three percent has actually been given," he said. "This is a low-level conflict which appears not to interest people as there is neither war nor peace."

Despite the official truce, clashes in 2002 and 2003 between government soldiers and the rebels, known as Ninjas, rocked the peace process and undermined a disarmament programme in the central African country of three million people.

Thousands of Ninjas, named after ancient Japanese warriors glamourised by Hollywood, who have not been disarmed and are no longer part of a structured rebel movement roam around the Pool region west of the capital Brazzaville.

Known for their trademark purple scarves and Rasta-style dreadlocks, the gunmen live off civilians and reguarly hijack the train that links the landlocked capital to the oil-producing coastal town of Pointe Noire.

There are no international peacekeepers in Congo, a former French colony, and analysts say the government seems unwilling, or unable, to put an end to the attacks in Pool.

The U.N. is due to open an office in Kinkala, a town at the heart of the Pool region, but Agbenonci said media attention on other conflicts around the world had taken its toll and the lack funds meant several aid agencies working in Pool may shut down.

"I also know many aid workers who used to work here but who have ended up being pulled out and sent to Darfur. This is very symbolic of our problem," he said.

According to the U.N., thousands were killed during Congo's war -- some put the toll as high as 10,000 -- and some 150,000 civilians fled the latest bout of violence in March 2003.

Although Congo is rich in oil, Pool is an economic backwater where many schools have remained closed for up to eight years, there are few health facilities and the road to the coast has been reduced to deeply rutted paths cut into the red soil.

Agbenonci said the humanitarian and economic woes of the region needed to be addressed to avoid reigniting the conflict.

"The stability of the Pool is the stability of the whole of Congo but it doesn't seem to be a priority. There are no resources in Pool, just its people," he said. "There is a very free flow of weapons, so there is still a risk of rebellion."

"This place is a time bomb we need to defuse."


Blogger Louis said...

Ingrid, underlining the sad state of affairs in central africa, you've highlighted the crisis in the OTHER Congo, Congo-Brazzaville. Their crisis is just as ignored as the one in DRC, though, so why not. Maybe change your title to "Congoes Watch"? Lol.

Monday, April 25, 2005  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hello Louis, Lovely surprise to see you here, thank you. This blog isn't really a blog - it's my electronic filing cabinet for news clippings that I find whilst tracking news on the Sudan. It helps me to get an overview of what's going on in neighbouring countries. The LRA for instance I file in my Uganda blog rather than at my main blog Sudan Watch, that way it is easier to find my posts when I want to get an idea of the latest. Some days I forget all about it here, until I see another report - or I get a comment. Thanks for visiting. I am enjoying your blog and reading about your very interesting work. At Sudan Watch I recently posted an item about a UNCHR supported production team doing a film in Darfur.

Thanks for pointing out the OTHER Congo - really, I had no idea there was another crisis in another Congo that the world is ignoring. I must have been overtired when I posted that report - didn't notice even that the word Democratic was missing. As soon as I get a moment, I will write an explanation at the post with credit to you. Sorry for the delay in replying to this. I've been busy at Sudan Watch and can barely keep up with everything now. How come those who are interested in the Congo(es) aren't interested in Sudan? I'm sure there must be a reason, but I don't know what.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005  
Blogger Louis said...

Hi Ingrid, I'm sorry if I came off as a nag. I only thought it funny-- because before going to Congo physically I couldn't have made a difference in the two. It just shows the level of general neglect for that part of Africa.

As for disinterest in Sudan, *sigh*. It's definitely not that I'm disinterested, it's just that I don't think I have your tremendous level of energy. My thought is to specialize, in order to keep going. I think Darfur obtains a slightly higher level of concern generally, so I must advocate for the Congo (also because i have a more personal connection). Sad that there's not room in the heart and mind that there should be... that you seem to have! I admire that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hello Louis, gosh, having a regular little conversation at one of my African blogs is quite a novelty ... not many people can face sustained dialogue on genocide and the atrocities occurring in Africa. No way do you come off as a nag - quite the opposite, I thought it was funny too. It certinly does show the level of general neglect [and ignorance] for that part of Africa. Having said that, I'll bet most Congoloeans (?) can't name the countries within the United Kingdom and Great Britain or point out on a map of Britain where London and Ireland are. Some Americans I've met (this is a true story) thought Italy was in Britain and London was the capital of Europe. Once I visited Windsor Castle (Queen of England's home) and saw a tourist guide surrounded by a group of paying tourists, who was interruped in her talk by the noise from an overhead plane coming in to land at Heathrow. One American tourist, exasperated by the interruption and noise said: "Geez, you'd think they'd have built this place away from an airport."

Sorry I did not mean you personally about Sudan. It's an observation I've made over the past year. Nobody comments at my Uganda blog. More have commented at Congo than have at Sudan blog.

As we can see from Congo Watch, people from Rwanda are there making big trouble - and people from Uganda are in Sudan making big trouble. Nigerian president is president of African Union ... and so on. I think Africa needs to be seen as a whole - not just one country - to get a picture of what is really going on there. What I am curious about, and I have not yet found an answer to is why Sudan is classed as an African country. Seems to me to be Arab - it falls under the African Union and Arab League ... maybe one of the problems is identity.

Thanks for thinking I have a tremendous level of energy. In mind yes, in body no, which is how come I can spend so much time on the Internet and tending my blogs. I am unable to do much else because of reduced stamina that is profoundly disabling. It's been said some with the same condition do improve but I've not had any experience of that in the past five years. I agree on specialising and not spreading yourself too thin. Better to be a master of one trade rather than a jack of all trades. I started specialising on looking into the reasons for mans inhumanity to man - which led me to questioning how genocide could occur in Bosnia 10 years ago, just a two hour plane ride away from England. Then all of a sudden in April of last year, genocide was occurring in Darfur and I've used blogging technology to log how it is unfolding before our very eyes, who said what to whom and when. This time, nobody can say they did not know what was going on. So, my interest has now taken me into African politics where I might find the reasons for mans inhumanity to man. Maybe I am looking for the reasons in order to see if there are any solutions or whether it is all part of life and its evolution. The thread I am finding is that all genocides are headed by dictators. My latest question is: would genocide occur within a modern day democracy? I think I may be on to something here because there is an American academic/writer (clever chap too) I've found in reports on the internet - who believes genocide would not occur in a democracy. So, my next question: Democracy for Africa is the way to stop so much suffering, death and destruction in Africa?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005  

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