Congo Watch: UN calls Eastern Congo worst humanitarian crisis - superseding the catastrophe in Darfur, Sudan

Thursday, March 17, 2005

UN calls Eastern Congo worst humanitarian crisis - superseding the catastrophe in Darfur, Sudan

The following editorial is by Lisa Schlein, Geneva, 16 March 2005 via Voice of America:

The U.N. top humanitarian official, Jan Egeland, says the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is the world's worst humanitarian crisis, displacing Sudan's Darfur region, which until recently held that dubious distinction. 

U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, says he in no way means to minimize the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur.  But, he says aid operations in this conflict-ridden region of Sudan have been very effective.  He says thousands of aid workers are providing needed assistance to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the war.

"They have made so great progress in dealing with the needs of the displaced population, that I would, in fact, now not today use the term the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world,” he said.  “I think there are many more preventable deaths in the eastern Congo, which is probably the largest forgotten and neglected emergency today in the world."

Mr. Egeland says more lives are lost in eastern Congo than anywhere else in the world.  He says a human life in the Congo is worth as much as a human life in Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia or any other high profile emergency in the world.

"It is beyond belief that we are not treating Eastern Congo as more of an intolerable and acute crisis when a survey showed last year, which still holds, that 1000 people died every day connected to the conflict and the crisis,” he added.  “I mean preventable deaths from disease and so on.  That is a tsunami every five, six months, year in and year out now for at least six years."

Human rights organizations estimate about one million people in eastern Congo have died from disease and war in the past six years.  Mr. Egeland says about three million people there are in acute need of assistance.

The U.N. humanitarian official says rape is widespread in both Congo and Darfur.  He says in both situations, many thousands of women have been sexually abused, with little regard or sympathy from their governments.  He says in western Darfur, there now are cases of women who are pregnant and not married who are being charged under Sharia law.

"As I understand it, charged for not being married.  We believe some of those are raped and that is the reason they are abused,” he said.  “It is the ultimate insult to charge women who may have been raped for being pregnant."

Mr. Egeland says he brought this matter up at the highest levels with the Sudanese authorities when he was recently in Khartoum.


Blogger TheMalau said...

You bet it is !!!!! Please check out what I wrote about this in my blog

Thursday, March 17, 2005  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hello Ali, I was at your blog when your comment arrived. I have posted some of the pictures, thanks. And have started to read your thesis. I wanted to link to some more of your great posts but cannot keep up with everything right now. It's interesting to read original commentary and I especially liked the post where you quoted one of your relatives ... about the neck and the head ... heh.

Thursday, March 17, 2005  

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