This draws the link between Rwanda and Congo and speaks about why Congo has been ignored while the genocide in Darfur has received so much (although not enough) attention. Jasmine has the PDF file if you want her to send it to you. I copy pasted the content below (but formatting is screwed up).
Rwanda’s Shadow, From Darfur to Congo
July 23, 2006
By Lydia Polgreen
GETI, Congo—Ngava Ngosi did not have much hope for her 3-month-old daughter,
Neena. The looted hospital in eastern Congo where she brought her child had no doctors.
She had already lost two sons to her country’s brutal civil war, and her daughter’s body
was stick-thin, her breath shallow.
As I talked to Ms. Ngosi, I was reminded of an infant in similarly dire condition I had
seen a month earlier in Zam Zam, a camp in Darfur, Sudan. Even though the 1-month-old
Mukhtar Ahmed was near death from pneumonia, at least the camp had a health center, a
doctor and antibiotics.
Last I heard, Mukhtar was recovering at a nearby city hospital. I don’t know if Neena
survived. But it seemed unlikely she would.
In a way, both of their fates were sealed by genocide. One child, Mukhtar, escaped what
many people, including President Bush, are calling the world’s newest genocide, in
Darfur. Neena, in an indirect but inescapable way, is the victim of an older, deeper
wound: the genocide in Rwanda that sparked the grim civil war in Congo that ultimately
took more lives than any conflict since World War II. The difference between life and
death for both these infants may well have been on which side of the great moral chasm
of genocide they stood.
The crisis in Darfur, long neglected, finally burst into the world’s consciousness. Congo
remains largely forgotten. It is hard to understand why. Four million people have died in
Congo since 1998, half of them children under 5, according to the International Rescue
Committee. Though the war in Congo officially ended in 2002, its deadly legacy of
violence and decay will kill twice as many people this year as have died in the entire
Darfur conflict, which began in 2003.
But such numerical comparisons belie a deeper truth. Darfur holds the world’s gaze
because of that magic word, genocide. The word, implying that there are clear criminals
and clear victims, has been perhaps the single greatest attention-getter for efforts,
however feeble, to end the fighting and organize relief efforts, even though the fighting
has lately turned in directions that indicate the situation was never so clear-cut.
The conflict in Congo, by contrast, long ago descended into a free-for-all with many
sides. Instead of Darfur’s seeming moral clarity, it offers a mind-numbing collection of
combatants known by a jumble of acronyms. And that has been a particularly cruel fate,
since the long-lasting war there in fact had its roots in the greatest mass killing since the
Holocaust — the unambiguous genocide of 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis in neighboring
Rwanda in the spring of 1994.
After Rwanda’s civil war ended, Hutus who had carried out the genocide fled into Zaire,
as Congo was then known, followed by their Rwandan enemies, bent on revenge. The
rest of the world, wracked by guilt because it stood by as Rwanda bled, did not intervene
in Rwanda’s Congolese conquests. This fighting touched off the next decade of killing.
Rwandan military leaders, with help from Uganda, decided to enrich themselves at
Congo’s expense, and rival home-grown militias soon joined the fray.
“A lot of the killings and horrors were in large part overlooked, either deliberately or
not,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch for
Congo. “The Rwandan genocide was initially why there was limited criticism of Rwanda
and Uganda coming in.”
Nearly a decade later, the memory of how little the world did to stop the slaughter has
been invoked in efforts to end the newest atrocities, in Darfur.
Darfur seemed to present a clear moral choice. The crisis began in 2003 with a rebellion
that sought to end the marginalization of non-Arab tribes by the Arab-dominated
government. The Sudanese government’s brutal military response, aided by murderous
Arab militias, turned into a campaign that killed more than 200,000 people and drove
millions from their homes.
In taking up the cause, many activists and politicians made the conflict into a morality
play — a clear example of genocide in which one group, the Arabs, was determined to
slaughter another, Africans. The Bush administration, which had already intervened to
end the Muslim-led government’s suppression of Christians, describes the killings in
Darfur as genocide.
For all its emotional power, this label has done little to reduce the suffering in Darfur, and
less to force an international solution. Despite the attention from politicians and
celebrities, Darfur relief efforts are chronically short of cash. The peace agreement signed
in May is on life support.
Some analysts have always questioned the use of the word genocide in Darfur, because
the term may mask the possibility that a deeper tragedy is on the horizon.
Recent events in Sudan have revealed that the longer the Darfur conflict goes on, the
more it takes on an awful complexity, for which the notion of genocide may be too
dangerously simple. Rival non-Arab militias, supposedly representing the conflict’s
victims, have turned on each other with a ferocity rivaling that of the feared Janjaweed
Arab militias. Cleavages have opened between the Arab-dominated government and the
The conflict has leaked into Chad, where Darfurian rebels raid refugee camps to kidnap
boys to fight and Janjaweed militias attack Chadian villagers. The United Nations warned
this month that the crisis may be spreading to the Central African Republic.
The peace agreement between the strongest rebel group and the Sudan government is
shaky, and two other rebel groups have refused to sign the deal. The Sudanese
government has so far refused to allow United Nations peacekeepers to replace the
overmatched African Union force now in place.
So in some ways, the greatest tragedy in Darfur may not be that it could become the next
It is that it could easily become the next Congo.
If what had seemed to be a clear two-sided conflict continues to devolve into violence,
the death toll in a messy regional war could easily balloon into millions.
Mukhtar, the little boy I met in Zam Zam, may be a symbol of the grim present in Darfur.
But Neena, the dying girl here in Geti, portends what is to come.
On July 30, Congo will hold an election, the first real chance for the people to choose
their own leaders since 1965. The world hopes this event will finally draw a line between
the tragic past and an unknown future. The journey from mass murder to peace, by way
of a gruesome civil war, has been long and deadly.
Darfur may be at just the beginning of that path. For the sake of Mukhtar, and millions
like him, the journey had better be swift.
The New York Times Company