June 02, 2004
More cracks in the Congo peace agreement, as U.N. "peacekeepers" idly stand by. This BBC report reminds why the U.N. probably can't be trusted to do a damn thing on the ground in Iraq.
Dissident soldiers have taken control of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Bukavu after a week of fighting with regular army troops...the army has withdrawn from Bukavu, which is now calm except for looting...1,000 United Nations troops around Bukavu have not intervened to prevent the rebel advance.
...In the capital, Kinshasa, hundreds of people rioted in protest at the UN's failure to defend Bukavu from the rebels. Demonstrators gathered outside the UN's headquarters and threw stones at UN vehicles, setting one on fire....The fighting came just hours after UN peacekeepers said a rebel ceasefire declared on Monday appeared to be holding in the area.
In another BBC piece on eastern Congo, correspondent Fergal Keane observes:
This was Bunia - our destination, its streets busy in the sunlight.
Coming in to land we could see the tents of the UN troops, their white armoured vehicles, the barbed wire encircling the airport perimeter. Blue helmets, white vehicles, the green hills of Central Africa. For one jolting moment I was carried back to another place, a central African nation where I had watched the UN fail to halt genocide.
Rwanda. Over the next few days the echoes of that other tragedy would follow wherever we went.
The UN compound in Bunia is encircled by razor wire and guarded by Uruguayan troops. They looked tired, dusty and uncomfortable. There were Bangladeshis too, and Pakistanis and there are Nepalese on the way. The armies of the world's poorest countries, just as was the case in Rwanda.
..let us be clear...Congo is a tragedy the developed world has done its best to ignore. Four million people have died from massacre, famine, disease. Four million in just five years. In that period the armies of no fewer than seven African countries have fought here. They did not fight for the good of the Congolese but as part of a latter day scramble for Africa, a war for the country's rich resources of diamonds, gold and minerals.
Meanwhile America obsesses over reality TV, sports, celebrity romance and - for a dash of social conscience - Abu Ghraib, and "racial profiling."
Posted by Matt Rosenberg at June 2, 2004 10:57 AM
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This (below) from AllAfrica.com on Sudanese genocide. That's right, this is in addition to my prior post - with regard to the ongoing genocide happening NOW in the Congo, Burundi and Sudan as well. Only in Africa does violent conflict of this scope remain "hidden" from view of BBC, CNN and that ilk. At Seattle's Folk Life Festival this past week, the focus was on Africa. Particulary the "Lost Boys" of Sudan (who were featured in the Seattle Times in recent weeks). Gosh, I don't get out much, but even I have the acquaintance of three Sudanese men here in Seattle that are among the hundreds that settled here in Seattle. Mel Gibson in "The Year of Living Dangerously" - portrayed the singular efforts of a few brave journalists that "outed" the horrors of Sukarno's Indonesia. Matt, we need you to be another Guy Hamilton! 45 bipartisan signatories, but note that Jim McDermott is NOT among them!
45 Members Of Congress Call On Kofi Annan To Travel To Darfur
United States Congress (Washington, DC)
Posted to the web June 4, 2004
Forty-five Members of Congress have signed a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan urging him to travel to Darfur, Sudan, to help end the genocide that is taking place in the region, according to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA).
Wolf, who already has sent two letters of his own to Annan urging him to go to Darfur, organized the joint letter.
"The world cannot just continue to stand by and watch," Wolf said. "Genocide is taking place. The United Nations has an obligation to step in and take action. The secretary general's presence would send a powerful message."
Wolf was particularly distressed by reports yesterday from a U.N. meeting on Sudan in Geneva saying that the death toll in Darfur could reach 1 million if humanitarian organizations are prohibited from delivering aid.
"Time is of the essence," Wolf said. "The killing needs to end and immediate humanitarian access must be allowed to help the displaced people get the aid they are in desperate need of."
Text of the letter
Dear Mr. Secretary General:
We are extremely concerned that the crisis in Darfur, Sudan, has not received the international attention or response that is needed to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. With the rainy season just weeks away, the window of opportunity is closing.
The situation on the ground is deteriorating at an alarming rate. Urgent, immediate action is needed to prevent the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. Your going to Darfur would call to the world's attention the ongoing slaughter. Precious time is slipping away.
We greatly appreciate your leadership on this crisis but the situation calls for even bolder action from the United Nations. We urge you to go to Darfur and stand in solidarity with the people.
The international community must act swiftly. Failure to act will bring certain death to the thousands languishing in camps. The world will wake up 10 years from now and wonder why more was not done to protect humanity. The evidence is clear. We cannot say that we did not know.
List of the Signatories
Frank R. Wolf
Donald M. Payne
Henry J. Hyde
Edward R. Royce
Christopher H. Smith
Martin T. Meehan
Michael M. Honda
Peter A. DeFazio
Elijah E. Cummings
Michael R. McNulty
James P. McGovern
Raul M. Grijalva
Todd W. Akin
Wm. Lacy Clay
Mark Steven Kirk
Maurice D. Hinchey
Chris Van Hollen
Jesse L. Jackson
James T. Walsh
Sue Wilkins Myrick
Wayne T., Gilchrest
Carolyn B. Maloney
Michael E. Capuano
James P. Moran
Henry A. Waxman
Gerald D. Kleczka
Thomas G. Tancredo
Timothy V. Johnson
Jo Ann Davis
Nita M. Lowey
Luis V. Gutierrez
United States, Canada and Africa
Civil War and Communal Conflict
The full text is also available from the House website of Rep. Wolf: www.house.gov/wolf