Category Archives: DC Congo

Behind the violent upheavals in the Congo Democratic Republic

Posted by Chika Onyejiuwa | Mar 26, 2018 | Africa |
Africa-Europe Faith & Justice Network

DRC-04-Nov-2017-300x175 -REUTERS-Thomas Mukoya
REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

As the year 2017 wound to a close, the world received ‘’the announcement’’ that the Democratic Republic of Congo was on the verge of entering a new phase of arms conflicts. It was more of a news report than a prediction. In no distant time, the news had assumed a distressing tone; the UN reported that the DR Congo was reaching a ‘breaking point’, violence had once again enveloped the resource-rich nation, and another humanitarian crisis was looming.Like many other African countries, the huge natural resources of this beautiful country have become a curse for her citizens. Their political elites have squandered their post-independence years, looting their resources instead of creating structures for nation-building. The perennial arms conflicts in Congo DR is a systematic struggle of her political elites to sustain their control the country’s vast natural resources and continue with the looting spree. Fortunately, there is a time when even the weakest rise in defence of life, even at the cost of life itself. Could it now be the time for the Congo DR?

The present impasse in Congo arose from the refusal of Joseph Kabila to keep to the ethos of democracy at the end of his mandate in 2016 and the decision of the Catholic Church to stand with the people to demand accountability from him. Indeed, the decision of the Church to stand with the voiceless people of Congo is truly encouraging. It is not only prophetic for the people of Congo; it is also an encouragement to the other Episcopal Conferences in Africa who remain silent in the face of injustices, exploitation and oppression of the people by their leaders. Probably, if the Church in Africa had embraced the Holy People of God as she has embraced the Holy Altar of God through the years, Africa would currently be singing sweet melodies.

Meanwhile, recall that the Congolese constitution was created only in 2006; thirty-two years after Mobutu Sese Seko had plundered the resources of the country. Joseph Kabila accidentally ascended to the throne, but he and his coterie appear ready to use all available means to crush, silence and eliminate any opposition to their effort to stay in power to protect their corrupt and ill-gotten wealth. It is on record that the Kabila family business empire alone includes 80 companies and businesses, 71,000 hectares of farmland, the largest diamond permits along 450 miles of Congo’s border with Angola and a 4.8% stake in one of the country’s largest mobile phone networks. Of course, unjustified acquisition of wealth makes such acquisitions vulnerable to the imperatives of democracy; it is therefore not surprising that Kabila is willing to mortgage the lives of the Congolese in defence of his loot.

While we stand aghast at the corruption, lack of vision and the desperation of the African leaders for ill-gotten wealth, we must point out the complicity of the global north in the crime of the African political elites against their people in providing the safe havens for their loot. It is not possible to speak about the looting of the Africa resources by their political elites without the shadow interest of the global north.

In April 2015, Ibrahim Thiaw, the Executive Director of the UN Environment program, stated that the estimated annual earnings from exploitation of natural resources in Congo by far exceeded USD1 billion. He noted with regret that about 98% of that earning ended up in the coffers of international concerns while the remaining 2% went into the funding of armed groups in Congo DR.

It is known that the link between the illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources; and the proliferation of arms is one of the major factors fueling and exacerbating the conflicts in the Great Lakes. One then wonders why it is that the global north is reluctant to bring its gains in democratic principles to bear on their relations with Africa. In 2016, the European Union shied away from complete regulation of the supply chain of the 3TG (Tin, Tungsten, Tantalum and Gold) even in the presence of compelling evidence to the contrary. It is evident that the failure of Syria is not so much the corruption of President Assad as the shadow interests of some countries of the global north. Unfortunately, those picking up the pieces are not the champions of the interests. If the Congo DR fails, the European Union would surely have enormous challenges with which to grapple.

The EU must now rise above their shadow interests to mobilise the international community and pressurise Kabila to step down from power because Africa is her next-door neighbour. Botswana has shown that the African national governments will flow with the tide of international leadership. Not only that, the EU will need to go beyond mere words to reconsider her unproductive paternalistic economic relations with Africa. There are insinuations out there that the presence of Europe in Africa is the best thing that has happened to Africa irrespective of its shortcomings, pointing to the presence of the Chinese who have infested Africa with their ubiquitous presence. One wonders whether this is the theory of a messiah or a vampire. Although the Chinese – who are pushing on all fronts of the African economy – may not be the perfect economic collaborators, at least it is a wake-up call for the former colony owners that a new economic interest has entered the ‘market place’ that was originally their monopoly. What then is the take of the average African on the current multiple economic interests in the continent? In the interim, it provides alternatives; what it would be in the long run is a matter of speculation. While hoping for the best, the continent awaits the later outcomes with mixed feelings and a prayer that it may not become another veiled plundering that leaves the land and its people poorer.

For now, the Congo DR boils, and the poor people are dying in their hundreds. The international media carry the news of killings, maiming, incarcerations and other gory inhuman acts. Immediate and long-term responses are needed. There are also other pockets of state unrest in Africa. Dare we say that the input of the international community towards crisis resolution in Africa is one of the strongest differentiating coefficients between economic partners and plunderers?

Chika Onyejiuwa

 

 

DR Congo: Nine year olds being trained as terrorists

Independent Catholic News
John Pontifex

congoJihadist camps made up of nearly 1,500 children as young as nine have been uncovered in central Africa, according to reports received by a leading Catholic charity at work in the region.

Sources close to Aid to the Church in Need – who cannot be named for security reasons – stated that poverty-stricken youngsters are being lured off the streets of the Democratic Republic of Congo and taken to remote camps where they are being brutalised and indoctrinated by Islamist militia.

Boys, spread across at least three camps in the Ruwenzori Mountains of eastern DRC, were sighted in camouflage kit doing military exercises watched over by soldiers with guns.

The reports describe up to 60 girls huddled together in the camps wearing burkhas, being prepared for marriage to Islamic fighters.

Maria Lozano, ACN vice-director of communications, said: “We have been given access to a variety of materials that shows the nature of these camps. The reports show soldiers wielding rifles, watching over the children aged nine to 15 in military outfits carrying out military exercises. The images we have seen are very disturbing.”

One of the camps is in Medina, about 50 miles from Beni city in the region of which nearly 500 people have been killed in a string of massacres which have taken place since October.

Ms Lozano said: “We are very concerned for the children as they have been lured off the streets with the promise of an escape from poverty. Some of the children are orphans but others have left their families after being deceived by recruiters who build up their hopes by offering them the chance to study in the Middle East, Europe or Canada. The information we have is that the girls are being forced into marriages in which they will be treated as sex slaves.”

The sudden emergence of the jihadist camps is being linked by the ACN sources to UN peace keeping forces with concerns that they are complicit in the camps and that they are intentionally failing to take action against them.

It is alleged that some members of the Mission of the United Nations Organisation for the Stabilization of DR Congo are fundamentalist Muslims from Pakistan who in their spare time in the African country are setting up Quranic schools and working on mosque construction sites.

The ACN contacts have claimed that the mosques have been built in areas where virtually no Muslims were living.

Ms Lozano said: “People don’t feel protected by the UN soldiers; the information we have received suggests that they are supporting the jihadist camps or at least they are not taking action against the indoctrination of children and the barbaric treatment of them.”

According to the 2014 Journal of International Organisations Studies, 28 of the 44 mosques (63 percent) in the Medina region of DRC were erected between 2005 and 2012.

Reports have stated that within a few years Muslim numbers in eastern DRC have risen from one percent to 10 percent.

The Catholic bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Bukavu, in eastern DRC, sent an open letter last May to the country’s President, the UN and international leaders denouncing an upsurge of jihadist fundamentalism in a region traditionally dominated by Christianity and where there have been very few Muslims until now.

Ms Lozano stated: “It has already been one month since the Bishops’ Conference sent their urgent appeal to the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other leaders but nobody has acted.”

Source: ACN