Watching Hotel Congo in 2014?

Michael Kavanagh writes a disturbing piece some weeks ago about the crisis in Congo. It concludes:

“When will the world pay attention?” is the question the IRC poses in its report. It would be nice to answer by saying, “There’s always hope.” But instead I find myself thinking of a quote from Hotel Rwanda‘s Col. Oliver, Nick Nolte’s Romeo Dallaire-inspired character. In the first weeks of the genocide, when Rusesabagina suggests that the international peacekeepers will fly into Rwanda and save them, the colonel rebukes him: “We think you’re dirt,” he says. “You’re not even a nigger. You’re an African.”

This was the conclusion many Rwandans came to after 1994. Looking at the situation in eastern Congo 10 years later, there’s still little to disabuse them of this notion.

I would also direct your attention to a first person account of experiences in the Congo from our colleague Edward Rackley at Old Town Review.

The human catastrophe of Eastern Congo is, for visitors,         a bundle of numbness and raw nerves. In September, at the invitation of         a British think-tank, I visited the unstable region to assess the causes         of ongoing violence against civilians. With close to 15,000 peacekeepers         on the ground, a transitional government anticipating national elections         in six months, and well-funded efforts to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate         combatants into civilian life—the “DDR process”—why         are civilians still being killed with such impunity? Scores of interviews         with humanitarian actors, UN staff, and Congolese revealed the usual suspects:         predatory governance, uncontrolled armed groups, endemic impunity, and         the inaccessibility of civilian populations due to ongoing combat.

None of these factors is particularly well understood         by outsiders; this opacity keeps the “heart of darkness” myth         alive. For insiders, Africa remains a Dark Continent by sole virtue of         its ability to generate degrees of suffering that surpass human comprehension.         Unfettered anarchy it is not. Recent African crises have birthed a new         truism: “If it looks like anarchy, then you don’t understand         what you see.” Eastern Congo fits the adage well: “chaos”         and “senseless tragedy” are the inevitable, indelible impressions         etched on any visitor’s memory. But behind the barrage of extreme         scarcity, mute agony, and feverish suspicion is a clear pursuit of economic         interest, a highly dexterous application of disorder as political instrument.       

      

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