Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Africa News blog:

The unnumbered dead

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CONGO-DEMOCRATICThe simple answer to the question of how many people died in Congo’s civil war is “too many”.

Trying to get a realistic figure is fraught with difficulties and a new report suggests that a widely used estimate of 5.4 million dead – potentially making Congo the deadliest conflict since World War Two - is hugely inaccurate and that the loss of life may be less than half that.

The aid group that came up with the original estimate unsurprisingly says the new report is wrong.

The problem is the way estimates are reached.

One way is to do a body count, but that is next to impossible in a country like the Democratic Republic of Congo. Very few of the victims are shot, blown up or otherwise die as a result of violence. Most succumb to disease or malnutrition. But then who died as a result of the war and who would have died anyway in a country where survival is normally so tough?

from Africa News blog:

A question of scale

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For days now Britons have been regaled with newspaper stories detailing the dubious expense claims of their Members of Parliament.

The Honourable Members, it seems, have been charging for everything from a few thousand pounds for clearing a moat to a few pence for a new bath plug. An outraged nation has risen almost as one to denounce its greedy lawmakers.

from Africa News blog:

Putting Africa on trial?

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Look down the list of the cases the International Criminal Court is pursuing – Congo, Central African Republic, Darfur, Uganda – and it doesn’t take long to spot the connection.

Of the dozen arrest warrants the court has issued, all have been against African rebels or officials. On Monday, the court begins its first trial - of Thomas Lubanga, accused of recruiting child soldiers to wage a gruesome ethnic war in northeastern Congo. Earlier this month, former Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba was in court for a decision on whether to confirm charges of ordering mass rape to terrorise civilians in the Central African Republic.

from Africa News blog:

Congo: Step forward or back to the past?

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Rwanda sent hundreds of its soldiers into eastern Congo on Tuesday in what the neighbours have described as a joint operation against Hutu rebels who have been at the heart of 15 years of conflict. Details are still somewhat sketchy, with Rwanda saying its soldiers are under Congolese command but Kinshasa saying Kigali’s men have come as observers.

Evidence on the ground suggests something more serious. United Nations peacekeepers and diplomats have said up to 2,000 Rwandan soldiers crossed into Congo. A Reuters reporter saw hundreds of heavily armed troops wearing Rwandan flag patches moving into Congo north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. The world’s largest U.N. peacekeeping mission is, for now, being kept out of the loop.

Rwanda deja vu? UN council hesitates on more Congo troops

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In 1994 the U.N. Security Council failed to prevent the slaughter of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. U.N. officials often refer to that period as the darkest chapter in the 60-year history of U.N. peacekeeping.

In 2000 the council accepted responsibility for dragging its heels and failing to prevent the Rwandan genocide. Members of the 15-nation body vowed to take lessons from the tragedy.

What should the world do to help Congo?

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Another bout of bloody clashes between Congolese Tutsi rebels and government forces, accompanied by vicious looting has sent the hapless civilians of eastern Congo’s North Kivu province once again running for their lives. Tens of thousands of people have fled the fighting, bringing to nearly 1 million the number of people displaced by fighting in North Kivu alone since Congo’s first ever democratic elections two years ago.

The fighting on the border between Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda has triggered the usual round of recriminations between the two countries’ governments. Foreign envoys are jetting back and forth between Kinshasa and Kigali. The United Nations and European Union are both considering sending in extra troops to help the U.N. peacekeeping force, already the world’s biggest at 17,000-strong.

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