Is Africa barbaric, forgotten or ignored?

Is Africa a continent out of control? Why are trucks loads of money, forces of relief aid, and sympathetic media attention not helping rather haunting the drifting dark land? In the past decade many regions of Africa have been blitzed by war and conflict, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the Sierra Leone crisis and the war in Ethiopia and the various other civil wars.

I’ve come across a book entitle Stealth Conflicts; How the World’s Worst Violence Is Ignored which, provides a useful map representing conflict death tolls between 1990 and 2007 where the square area of continents/regions corresponds to their proportion of conflict death tolls:

88% of all conflict death tolls in this period were in Africa, followed by Asia (6%), Middle East (4%), Europe (1%) and the Americas (1%)Source: Virgil Hawkins, New World Maps, Stealth Conflicts, December 30, 2008

In addition to the conflict deaths, there have been over 9 million refugees and displaced people. If this scale of destruction and fighting was in Europe, then people would be calling it World War III with the entire world rushing to report, provide aid, mediate and otherwise try to diffuse the situation. However, there is silence and no sympathy on a grand scale to extend grace to these WARnout African people.

I received this story from some friends serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this week, “Word had trickled out that the entire village was burned, although the inhabitants were rousted by gunfire and allowed to flee their homes.  The attack was in retaliation for ‘allowing’ government and MONUC (UN) troops to headquarter in their hamlet in a recent operation to seek out and forcefully repatriate the Hutus. Despite official claims, no success.  In classic guerilla fashion, the Hutu warlords who control columbium and tantalum ore mining – cell phones and jet engine exhausts – (google “coltan” if you are interested) and their militias had simply retreated into the heavy jungle.  Someone didn’t learn the lessons taught by the Viet Nam conflict?!”

Virgil Hawkins states, “The death toll from conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is literally one thousand times greater than that in Israel-Palestine, yet it is the latter that is the object of far greater media coverage … [and where] the intricacies and nuances of the conflict, political situation and peace process are almost obsessively analyzed and presented.… [African] conflicts are frequently brushed off and dismissed as being chaotic, or worthy of some vague pity or humanitarian concern, but rarely of any in-depth political analysis. But even [when there is coverage of conflicts in] Africa, the death toll has little to do with the levels of coverage. Darfur made a rare appearance on the radar of Western concern in 2004 … at a time when the known death toll from conflict there was still 80 times smaller than that in the DRC. Similarly, political violence in early 2007 in Zimbabwe resulting in one death and a number of arrests and beatings of political leaders became the object of relatively high levels of attention and indignation in the Western media. At almost exactly the same time, political protest in Guinea was put down by government forces that fired indiscriminately into crowds of protesters resulting in a total of 130 deaths and numerous arrests. Also at the same time, street battles between government and opposition forces in the capital of the DRC resulted in between 400 and 600 deaths, and resulted in the exile of the opposition leader. Yet this violence in Guinea and the DRC was virtually ignored by the Western media.”

Q: Is Africa barbaric, forgotten or ignored?

A: All the above. It is time for the church to step up and step in.

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