News analysis: D R Congo: An Unending war
The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen the deadliest protracted war in the continent involving 9 African countries. It has been described as the ‘African World War’ with a death toll estimated to be over 5 million people. This excludes deaths from diseases, starvation and other causes. The eastern part of the DR Congo has been named as the ‘Rape Capital of the World.”
The war from DR Congo has featured tremendous human rights atrocities which have presented a major challenge to Africa and the world.
The country’s government is besieged by many rebel groups. The M23 – a Tutsi ethnic group – with ties to Rwanda’s leaders is one of the prominent rebel groups. It is called M23 in reference to a 23 March 2009 peace deal, signed with the Congolese government by the rebels fighting to overthrow the government and establish their own rule.
The attention of the world has been turned to Islamist jihadists like ISIS and suicide bombers in Europe or the insurgencies of Boko Haram in Nigeria or the Al Shabaab attacks in neighbouring Kenya and Uganda.
At the same time a massive humanitarian disaster has unfolded in Congo, compouonded by disease, poverty and starvation. Rape, abductions and child-soldiers have been the weapons of war.
Amidst all the chaos, deaths and destruction in the country Christians have been targeted by the Islamist group, Allied Democratic Forces-National Association for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) in the north-east of the DRC for several years since their unsuccessful attempt to take over and establish an Islamic government in Congo (DRC).
The killing of about 50 Christians in North Kivu, on Saturday, 13th August 2016, was condemned by Pope Francis who said, “My thoughts go to the people of North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who have been recently hit with fresh massacres, which have for some time been perpetrated in shameful silence, without attracting even as much as our attention”.
Equally the United Nations called the government of Congo to investigate the incident.
One report said, “dozens of protesters gathered in Beni, carrying the body of one of those killed and chanting anti-government slogans.” The report added that President Joseph Kabila had visited the region the week before the attack and said he would work to bring about peace.
Neighbouring countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya are facing their own challenges with internal conflicts and radical Islamism. There has not been a united front in assisting Congo nor has there been any effective action from the UN to address the protracted crisis.
The ritual of condemnation of attacks on communities continues but has never been followed up. The African Union and many other countries around the world have asked for dialogue and understanding among the warring factions.
However the violence goes unabated with so many countries and religious leaders lacking both the political will to stop the killings and the persecution of Christians.