Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Peace deal signed to (hopefully) end second Congolese holocaust

This essay is part of an occasional feature on this blog that presents compelling stories from elsewhere in the world, particularly Africa, that are little reported in the American media. It's part of my campaign to get people to realize there is a lot going on in the world outside the US, IsraelStine, Iraq, North Korea and Iran.

A peace deal has been signed that will hopefully end the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The deal was signed by the DRC's government, the pro-government Mai Mai militia and dissident rebel chief Laurent Nkunda.

Some observers called the deal historic but others were skeptical.

Africa analyst Muzong Kodi at Chatham House in London told the BBC's Focus on Africa program that, "The underlying problem is the resource war and if any of the groups disband other groups are going to replace them."

Kodi added that impunity is another major obstacle.

The deal was signed a day after the International Rescue Committee estimated that war and its resulting chaos had caused some 5.4 million Congolese deaths in the last decade.

The IRC has concluded that there are 45,000 more deaths, every month, than would be expected from the average, already poor conditions in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

Many of the deaths are caused by conditions like malaria, malnutrition and pneumonia, which are easily treatable... when public health infrastructure is available.

IRC noted that the DRC's vastness, it's the size of western Europe, exacerbated the astronomical death toll. In geographically smaller countries, aid agencies could better concentrate their efforts.

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