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Friday, April 29, 2005
 
The Worst War since 1945 ::

(This post is not about hypertext, or Hebrew Bible, or teaching. My excuse is that Michael Pahl mentioned it first...)

What do you think is the worst war since WWII? We'll use a simple definition of "worst": killing the most human beings. So, which conflict is the worst of the last fifty years? Vietnam, the Gulf War, or Gulf War II, the ethnic cleansing in Sudan....

The IRC did a "mortality survey" in Congo (it is their fourth survey since the "civil" war started) . The first conclusion is this:

The humanitarian crisis in DR Congo remains the world’s deadliest: More than 31,000 people die every month as a result of the conflict. Eighteen months after the signing of a formal peace agreement, people in DR Congo continue to die at a rate that is one third higher than the average rate for sub-Saharan Africa.... Between January 2003 and April 2004 almost 500,000 deaths occurred beyond what would normally be expected during this period.
This is equivalent to over 31,000 lives lost every month and more than 1,000 people dying every day as a result of the conflict. Nearly half of them are children under five years of age. When analyzed in conjunction with the IRC’s previous mortality surveys, the findings indicate that from the beginning of the war in August 1998 to the end of April 2004, approximately 3.8 million people have died as a result of the crisis. The survey demonstrates that the Congolese conflict is by far the deadliest war in the world since World War II and the deadliest in Africa ever recorded.

IRC Mortality Survey (a PDF file)

You may think that though this is terribly sad only the people of Congo (my ex-students, colleagues and friends and their compatriots) can stop the shooting. The saddest part is that most of these deaths are preventable:

The majority of deaths are due to easily preventable and treatable diseases. While security problems continue in the eastern provinces, less than two percent of deaths over the past 16 months have been due to war-related violence. The most devastating byproducts of the conflict have been the disruption of the country’s health services and food supplies. As a result, the vast majority of deaths have been among civilians and have been due to easily preventable and treatable illnesses such as fever and malaria, diarrhea, respiratory infections, and malnutrition. Children under five years old are at particular risk from these diseases. They account for 45.4% of the 500,000 deaths documented in this last survey period, even though they represent less than 20% of the total population.

IRC Mortality Survey (a PDF file)

So, here's the story in a nutshell: So, has the aid been flooding in, like it has to other war-ravaged parts of the world?

In Iraq, where Sadaam Hussein’s years of brutality, the effects of sanctions and three wars have led to far fewer casualties than DR Congo, the 2003 aid budget was $3.5 billion or $138 per person. Precise aid figures for 2004 were unavailable. The desperate situation in Darfur, Sudan, where an estimated 70,000 people have died and some two million have been displaced, has led to more than $530 million in foreign aid for 2004 or $89 for each person. In spite of DR Congo’s rank as the deadliest recorded conflict since World War II, the world’s humanitarian response in 2004 was a total of $188 million in aid or a scant $3.23 per person.

Press release "When Will the World Pay Attention?"



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