The Rape of a Nation

From the July 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

It seems that only a catastrophe of gigantic proportions can bring Africa to the headlines of Western newspapers. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of these. This time it is the Democratic Republic of Congo that has the dubious honor of gaining international attention.

In June came a new round of killing in Congo’s four-year civil war, after Uganda pulled out its 9,000 troops under a multi-national peace pact.

The civil war, which has witnessed the violent deaths of an estimated 3 million people so far, is fought by rival Hema and Lendu tribal armies, mainly in its northeastern Ituri province. These clans fight for control over the mineral-rich northeastern province, vying for deposits of gold, diamonds, colton (a mineral used in cell phones and video games) and possibly oil.

Nine foreign nations were once involved in this war. Most are now gone as a result of the peace pact, but Uganda and Rwanda still support various Hema factions (with both countries vying for a share of Congolese diamonds and mineral wealth), while the Lendus are supported by the Congolese government.

In any case, the warring resembles too closely the same story that has repeated itself so often in recent African history—greedy and cruel tribal warlords exploiting a citizen army for their own gain, with an aftermath of bloodbath and mayhem.

In the Congo, unarmed UN observers constrained by bureaucracy and inadequate resources stand by while hundreds and thousands are massacred nearby.

The UN Security Council has approved the EU sending a 1,400-strong French-led peacekeeping force to the Democratic Republic of Congo to try to subdue the fierce fighting. However, even the commander, French Colonel Daniel Vollot, doubts the possibility of success for reining in this latest outburst of violence.

The EU force will go in, stay until September 1 (its “firmly established” date to mark the “end of the intervention”) and then get out fast, patting themselves on the back for “doing their best,” with little or no effect for the people of the Congo themselves. The military planners themselves are more than pessimistic. “A European military planner who was issued a copy of the French document said, ‘This is the most cynical military briefing I’ve read in my entire life. Everybody is just laughing at it.’

“Francois Grignon of the International Crisis Group writes in a forthcoming report on Congo: ‘This intervention is, on the face of it, totally insufficient to meet the needs of Ituri’s pacification’” (Guardian, June 12).

While the intervention, as the EU’s first mission outside of Europe, will certainly boost the stature and credibility of the EU’s fledgling army, it will not improve the lot of the Congolese.

The truth is, this sad area of Africa cannot be helped by any token intervention exercised by such forces. A total change of mind and government—implemented by Jesus Christ—alone can and will finally bring peace to this war-ravaged nation.