Why is the World Ignoring the Congo War?
November 29, 2012
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I recently read an interesting article on the CNN website in which the journalist poses the question: why has the world been ignoring the war that has been going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo? Initially, I thought she was going to solely discuss the conflict that is currently taking place in which the M23 rebels from Rwanda seized the city of Goma. However she discusses the wars that have been going on for 12 years that “have claimed nearly the same number of lives as having a 9/11 every single day for 360 days, the genocide that struck Rwanda in 1994, the ethnic cleansing that overwhelmed Bosnia in the mid-1990s, the genocide that took place in Darfur, the number of people killed in the great tsunami that struck Asia in 2004, and the number of people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki—all combined and then doubled.” I was absolutely shocked because I wasn’t even aware that all of this had occurred and is still happening to this day. She further emphasizes the absence of these wars in the media by contrasting the coverage of the situation that is happening right now, in which the M23 militia is terrorizing the local population of Goma with the conflict currently going on in Gaza. That ongoing story has been front-page news since the first airstrike, while very few people are aware of what’s going on in the DRC.
So the question is really what is causing the disparity in news coverage? Is there something in particular that makes one story more newsworthy than other? Vava Tampa, the author of the article asks several follow up questions: “Is it due to the geographical or cultural distance between London or Washington and Congo? Or are Western media just reluctant, if not uninterested, to cover it because no Western interests or ally is endangered by it? Would the coverage the situation in Congo receives be the same if it was happening in Europe or if Congo spoke English rather than French? What if Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe or his disciples were implicated in funding murderous militia gangs in Congo? Or if the killing was between black Africans and Arabs? Or if minerals funding Congo’s killing and raping industries benefited the East more than the West?”
Whatever the case may be, it is glaringly obviously that more attention needs to be brought to “the killing, raping and looting that have thus far claimed over 5.4 million Congolese lives, and continue to leave 1,100 women raped every single day, could continue to unfold undetected by the camera lenses of Western media and excluded from Western political agenda.”
It is clear that the conflicts that have been ongoing in Congo have all of the qualities of front-page news, i.e. millions of deaths, rapes, and terrorism, so my questions are what is preventing it from garnering international attention and what must be done to rectify this?