What comes to mind when you hear the word genocide?
The Holocaust? Rwanda?
Each of these events occurred in the past. But, upon first hearing the word genocide, do you think of all of the atrocities currently happening today? At this minute, as your eyes read these words?
Well, this is genocide: something that is very real and something that is still occurring as we live and breathe. It is hard to confront genocide and mass killings but the first step is to become informed. So, let’s discuss the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
What you might not know is that the Rwandan crisis is being lived out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and has become the deadliest conflict since WWII. The perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide fled to the DRC, bringing conflict with them. Their migration sparked an invasion by Rwanda and Uganda. While the invaders were successful in overthrowing the dictator of the DRC, the allied forces became dismantled soon after, thus resuming the conflict in the area. The DRC has been experiencing chaos since this time in the 1990’s. Thus far, 5.4 million lives have been lost and 2.6 million people have been displaced. And it’s not over.
Both government militia and rebellion groups engage in violence toward the civilians of the DRC. This includes mass killings, rape, and torture. Systematic rape is so prevalent in the DRC that it is becoming known as the rape capitol of the world. Around 1,000 women are raped each day. This equates to about 48 rapes per hour.
Why is it happening?
The answer is much simpler than we want it to be: natural resources. These include tanalum, tungen, tin, and gold. These elements are important because they can be sold to help make items such as computers and cell phones- things that we all use each day and will pay a lot of money for. It becomes a cycle. The perpetrators sell the resources for money and purchase more weapons and tools to maintain their control. They then terrorize civilians and use them for slave labor to make more money. With the money, they purchase more tools to main control, and so forth. This means that children are forcibly being used as slave labor. It is estimated that 43,000 children work in mineral mines and about 4,000 children have been abducted and are being used as soldiers.
What can we do?
This is the hardest part. How can we help? Unfortunately there isn’t a single, concise answer. That doesn’t mean don’t do anything. There are things you can do that can help make a difference.
- Become informed. Expose yourself to uncomfortable information and be willing to dig a little for the correct facts. Accept that other parts of the world are in turmoil and that innocent people die. Every. Day.
- Keep up. Update yourself on the situation and how it is changing from day to day. Be aware of things that may arise so that you can react accordingly.
- Spread the word. Tell people what is happening in our world and help them to understand why it is important for to care about it.
- Vote. Exercise your rights and vote for leaders who care about issues such as these and who will actively work to make a difference.
Always remember that you can make a difference. Every person matters.