I haven't posted much on Congo lately, mostly because it's so depressing that I needed to take a break. Here's the latest. The short version? It's getting worse.
- The head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (where our good friend She Who Got To Meet George Clooney works) has asked the UN Security Council for 3,000 extra peacekeepers for North Kivu. This is very necessary and I hope they will respond accordingly. I also hope that member states will step up and send well-trained troops to the region to protect the population.
- The Congolese army is running wild by all accounts except their own.
- That fact makes it somewhat less than reassuring to Goma's population that the MONUC force commander says that army troops are protecting the city with MONUC.
- The front line is where the bodies are. Army troops and CNDP rebels are about 200 yards apart.
- Ushashidi is tracking where violence happens in Nord-Kivu.
- Not surprisingly, the Congo is among the worst places in the world to be a child.
- Listen to stories of victims, recorded by Heal Africa's Hortense Mulira.
- My friend Joseph Ciza's diaries are being read on the BBC.
- Heal Africa is able to cross the lines to help people. Here's word from Ciza:
"The population of Kiwanja is crowded around the MONUC base. Conditions are deplorable. There are no latrines, very little water, no food. Around 15000 people are crowded up to the barbed wire outside the MONUC base. They are begging for help. But the new authorities refuse to allow distributions of humanitarian aid. They have destroyed completely the IDP settlements, and there is not a trace of anything that was left when the fugitives scattered last week.
"Hortance recorded some interviews with mothers and young people. People want to go back to their homes, but they are very afraid. Fear dominates over hunger and the very real danger of cholera. The Mayi Mayi are 15 kms north, and 20kms away on the Ishasha road to the north east. That’s really not very far, so the calm is superficial. We can read anxiety and despair on the faces of these people."
Click here to donate to Heal Africa's relief efforts in North Kivu.
(Photo: Roberto Schmidt, AFP)