This past week, two articles were published about the plights of the Congolese. First, the New York Times reveals the systematized sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Put simply, women are being brutally raped by paramilitary groups at a horrifying scale. In 2006, in the relatively tiny South Kivu Province alone, there were 27,000 sexual assaults reported, according to the UN. At just one hospital profiled in the article, ten new rape victims arrive daily. Read the article; this reality is horrifying.
“…The United Nations peacekeepers here seem to be stepping up efforts to protect women. Recently, they initiated what they call “night flashes,” in which three truckloads of peacekeepers drive into the bush and keep their headlights on all night as a signal to both civilians and armed groups that the peacekeepers are there. Sometimes, when morning comes, 3,000 villagers are curled up on the ground around them…”
I can’t imagine the terror they must be living daily.
But while the UN may be making headway (the daily assault rates have not diminished yet), the World Bank has seized the opportunity to sponsor the decimation of the 2nd largest forest in the world, at the expense of its inhabitants.
According to its own internal investigation, since 2002 the World Bank has “encouraged foreign companies to destructively log the world’s second largest forest, endangering the lives of thousands of Congolese Pygmies.”
This is inconceivable: in the same regions that women in the DRC have been sexually mutilated for years, the World Bank has simultaneously pursued cold financial gain on behalf of foreign industrial forestry companies. Worse, it’s supposed to be “legally committed to protecting the environment, and trying to alleviate poverty.”
According to the Guardian:
“In a scathing analysis of the bank’s economic reasoning, the panel said the bank had “distorted the real economic value of the country’s forests” by looking solely at the tax and revenue that increased industrial logging might generate. ‘There seems to have been little action to support alternative uses of the forest resources,’ it said.”
“One Pygmy leader told the panel: ‘We are being made poor in every aspect … the [logging] company prevents us from going into the forests.’ Another said that the company had bought the land so that people could no longer live in the forests.”
In response to all this, I am completely overwhelmed. This information must come to light. We in the international community must not sit idly by, unaware while the Congolese people are savagely victimized by domestic sexual assault and foreign theft of their land.
October 8, 2007 at 6:17 pm
Great post Tom – thanks for shedding light on this.