Focus on the Congo

Many of you will have listened over the last couple of mornings to the Today Programme’s reports on the Congo.

If you have you will know how harrowing they are, if you didn’t then go along to Radio 4’s listen again feature; this morning’s report was on at about 7.40am. In it a young woman from the Congo told of how, amongst other abuses, she’d been raped by 19 men in one ‘session’, been forced to hang her own child and watched as the Rwandan militia killed her brother for refusing to rape her, his sister. For the four months that she was held by the militia she was naked; no clothes at all, not even rags.

Deemed too harrowing for us to listen to, were the descriptions of forced cannibalism and worse (although I’m not sure I can imagine what that could be).

You can find details of how to help at Oxfam, where there is also a link to the Arms Control Campaign.

My point, in bringing this to your attention, is to make sure, as we are all agog at the transfer of power from Tony to Gordon, that we remember what their and our job is. On the Radio 4 PM Blog this afternoon, one blogger made the comment that it was time to for the UN to get off their backside…they’re right of course. But the UN works to the priorities of the member states and particularly those of the Security Council.

Our government seems currently to be more focused on its own party political navel and dealing with the ‘blowback’ from their foolish and illegal decision to go to war in Iraq.

The Middle East is important (I know, what an understatement) and if peace were to be brought to that region the world is sure to be a safer and more stable place. But, always hard to do, I am not sure it is possible to compare even what is happening in the Middle East & Iraq, to what is happening in Africa. It seems that as the atrocities in Africa get worse and worse we stop up our ears and hope nobody tells us any more.

It occurs to me that we might do this through a sense of colonial guilt. If we find out too much, our sense of guilt might just be unbearable; so better out of sight and then it will be out of mind. But if that’s so, then it is stuff and nonsense. I am not responsible for the actions of my ancestors of a hundred or even fifty years ago. Although, obviously, I must be is cognisant of the fall out from their actions and the effect it has had on mine and others life. But I am responsible for what is allowed to happen now and it is up to us as human beings to make sure that this barbarism in Congo stops; by supporting the UN, by supporting the NGOs, by not ignoring it or feeling too overwhelmed by it all and putting our leaders back on the hook.

So, Mr Brown, who has made so much about his concern for Africa…what are you doing about the Congo?

I cannot begin to imagine the unbearable pain of the parents of the little girl gone missing in Portugal. I can, however, imagine that the pain now coming out of Africa is multiplied a thousand fold. I only wish that our outrage and concern, as evidenced by the media, was as proportionate.


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