Rape of a Nation

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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is home to the deadliest war in the world today. An estimated 5.4 million people have died since 1998, the largest death toll since the Second World War, according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

IRC reports that as many as 45,000 people die each month in the Congo. Most deaths are due to easily preventable and curable conditions, such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, and neonatal problems and are byproducts of a collapsed healthcare system and a devastated economy.

The people living in the mining towns of eastern Congo are among the worst off. Militia groups and government forces battle on a daily basis for control of the mineral-rich areas where they can exploit gold, coltan, cassiterite and diamonds.

After successive waves of fighting and ten years of war, there are no hospitals, few roads and limited NGO and UN presence because it is too dangerous to work in many of these regions. The West's desire for minerals and gems has contributed to a fundamental breakdown in the social structure.

Marcus Bleasdale was awarded the unicef Photographer of the Year Award and Magazine Photographer of the Year in the USA by POY. He has been following the war in Congo in all its horror and grotesqueness for almost a decade – a war which has claimed more than four million victims to date. 'It is countless more than that if you include the orphaned, the bereaved, the widowed, and all the ripples of truncated lives that spread from a single death. It is you and me and our children and our parents, if we had the bad luck to be born into the world this book portrays.' (Excerpt from the foreword)

More information on Congo:

How to Help
The problems in Congo are vast and sometimes the whole problem feels overwhelming, but it is not unsolvable.  It is not a problem that we can’t do anything about.


  • When buying gold or diamonds, ask the retailer if they know where they’re coming from. In this way, we as consumers can maintain pressure on an industry that is sometimes not as diligent as it can be.

 

Additionally the Congolese population needs help. These are some of the organizations working in DRC:

 


  • Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. They work to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice. They investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable. They challenge governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law.

  • Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) is providing emergency healthcare in some of the worst conflict zones in DRC.

  • The International Rescue Committee helps to revive basic services interrupted by the long civil war and aid communities to generate long-term solutions to the problems of poverty and violence.

  • Save the Children helps to revive basic services interrupted by the long civil war and aid communities to generate long-term solutions to the problems of poverty and violence.

  • The Coalition to stop the use of Child Soldiers works to prevent their recruitment and use, to secure their demobilization and to promote their rehabilitation and reintegration.

  • Global Witness exposes the corrupt exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems. They drive campaigns to end impunity, resource-linked conflicts and human rights and environmental abuses.

 

All of these organizations need our constant support.

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Posted by

Sui Zhang