"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

9.01.2007

congo watch


What we feared all summer is happening in North Kivu.

Nkunda says it's war. He might be prone to overstatement, but I get the sense that it may be true. (Having witnessed firsthand the buildup of troops and weapons this summer might have something to do with my suspension of disbelief.) The DRC army (FARDC) is flying in reinforcements. People are fleeing rural villages and towns. Goma's airport was closed on Thursday, probably to get the reinforcements in.

I'm hearing that there are Rwandan army camps inside Congo. Digital Congo, a pro-Kabila (the Congolese president) news outlet, says 12,000 Rwandan soldiers have been sent to reinforce Nkunda, a Congolese Tutsi rebel, over the past few months. This is an accusation from the FDLR, a Rwandan rebel group that operates in Congo and that is led by the Hutu extremists who perpetrated Rwanda's 1994 genocide. It's complicated.

The Congolese Minister of Defense has apparently said that he wants and will work for a peaceful solution in the east. He's a friend's uncle. I suppose I could email her and ask if she thinks that's true, but what good would it do?

School starts on Monday in the Congo. There are quite clearly several thousand children in North Kivu who won't have the chance.

Please say a prayer for my friends and for everyone in North and South Kivu. This has the potential to spiral even further out of control very quickly. If the Rwandan army comes to Nkunda's aid, there could be a full-scale war. I don't think that will happen, but I've learned not to make too many predictions about this corner of the world in which actors' decisions don't always seem rational to my Westernized mind.

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