Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Cost of Freedom !!! ???

Refugees who haven't eaten for days cheered when the first humanitarian convoy in a week arrived Monday at their camp, but the jubilation turned into anger when U.N. workers dumped soap instead of food
U.N. officials admit hunger at the Kibati camp, where tens of thousands of refugees have sought safety, is dire but say their first priority is resupplying clinics looted by retreating government troops. Medical supplies and tablets to purify water were the priority in this shipment . The soap and plastic jerry cans for water distributed in Kibati on Monday were meant to help with sanitation amid fears of a cholera epidemic.

Food, however, was the critical issue for most people. A World Food Program official in Rutshuru, asked about the lack of food, said the group had supplies that would be delivered as soon as possible but reminded reporters that two truckloads of their food aid was destroyed by soldiers before the town fell on Tuesday last week.

"Everybody is hungry, everybody" said Jean Bizy, a 25-year-old teacher

Onesphore Sematumba, of local think tank Pole Institute, watched with horror as thousands of children lined up in the sun for hours at the Kibati camp to get tokens that will allow them to queue for high-energy biscuits. The children thought they were waiting for the biscuits.
"We really need to re-think humanitarian aid," Sematumba said. "If you can't help people, don't create false hopes."
U.N. officials said the token system was necessary because of the unrest that broke out when aid workers tried to distribute biscuits directly.

Both government and rebel forces are accused of gross human rights abuses .

When asked about the suffering his offensive has brought to a quarter million people, Nkunda replied: "That's the cost of freedom."

It's a cost that the poor and the vulnerable will pay , and in the end , all for very little freedom


ajohnstone said...

Joahann Hari of The Independent reports

"Nkunda – backed by Rwanda – claims he needs to protect the local Tutsi population from the same Hutu genocidaires who have been hiding out in the jungles of eastern Congo since 1994. That's why he is seizing Congolese military bases and is poised to march on Goma.
It is a lie.
François Grignon, Africa Director of the International Crisis Group, tells me the truth: "Nkunda is being funded by Rwandan businessmen so they can retain control of the mines in North Kivu. This is the absolute core of the conflict. What we are seeing now is beneficiaries of the illegal war economy fighting to maintain their right to exploit."
At the moment, Rwandan business interests make a fortune from the mines they illegally seized during the war. The global coltan price has collapsed, so now they focus hungrily on cassiterite, which is used to make tin cans and other consumer disposables.

There are two stories about how this war began – the official story, and the true story. The official story is that after the Rwandan genocide, the Hutu mass murderers fled across the border into Congo. The Rwandan government chased after them. But it's a lie. How do we know? The Rwandan government didn't go to where the Hutu genocidaires were, at least not at first. They went to where Congo's natural resources were – and began to pillage them. They even told their troops to work with any Hutus they came across. Congo is the richest country in the world for gold, diamonds, coltan, cassiterite, and more. Everybody wanted a slice – so six other countries invaded.

These resources were not being stolen to for use in Africa. They were seized so they could be sold on to us. The more we bought, the more the invaders stole – and slaughtered. The rise of mobile phones caused a surge in deaths, because the coltan they contain is found primarily in Congo. The UN named the international corporations it believed were involved: Anglo-America, Standard Chartered Bank, De Beers and more than 100 others. (They all deny the charges.) But instead of stopping these corporations, our governments demanded that the UN stop criticising them.


ajohnstone said...

The rebels "are not in any areas that don't have minerals," says Joseph Mukind Kakez, a top government official in eastern Congo.

Given its immense natural resources, the Congo should be one of the richest countries on earth, with an estimated $300 billion worth of timber, gold, diamonds, cobalt, copper, tin, and coltan. Nearly 80 percent of the world's known reserves of coltan – a key metal used in cellphones and video games – come from Congo. Yet instead of a blessing, Congo's riches have become a bane.

The crisis – funded by the world's insatiable need for mineral resources – is not an easy conundrum to solve. US sanctions forbid high-tech companies from buying Congolese coltan, for instance, but sanctions don't affect coltan purchased in neighboring Rwanda. Rwanda is not a coltan-producing country, so its coltan mainly comes from Congo, illegally.

"You have to understand that when the FDLR loot, they become wealthy, and the people who are looted become poorer," says Mr. Mugaruka.