Nicholas Kristof on the Congo: The World Capital of Killing

It’s easy to wonder how world leaders, journalists, religious figures and ordinary citizens looked the other way while six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. And it’s even easier to assume that we’d do better.

But so far the brutal war here in eastern Congo has not only lasted longer than the Holocaust but also appears to have claimed more lives. A peer- reviewed study put the Congo war’s death toll at 5.4 million as of April 2007 and rising at 45,000 a month. That would leave the total today, after a dozen years, at 6.9 million.

What those numbers don’t capture is the way Congo has become the world capital of rape, torture and mutilation, in ways that sear survivors like Jeanne Mukuninwa, a beautiful, cheerful young woman of 19 who somehow musters the courage to giggle. Her parents disappeared in the fighting when she had just turned 14 ”” perhaps they were massacred, but their bodies never turned up ”” so she moved in with her uncle.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Republic of Congo, Violence, Women

3 comments on “Nicholas Kristof on the Congo: The World Capital of Killing

  1. Terry Tee says:

    This is not the first such article that I have read about the Congo, and each one has been deeply distressing. But the parallel with the Holocaust does not quite work. Let me explain. At baptism, or at the renewal of baptismal vows, we are asked in some way or other: ‘Do you renounce evil?’ One of the terrible things about the Holocaust was that ordinary German Christians (and some Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian etc) co-operated with evil. They drove trains, they developed poison gas, they engineered ovens. Primo Levi in If This Is a Man made that searingly clear. But: in the evil of the Congo, where is the standard of conduct that is being violated? What accountability is there? An associated difficulty is discovering where the West has leverage. This problem becomes clear when you read the Kristof column. You read, you are appalled, you wonder, ‘What can we do to help ….?’ and even he, the author, rather thrashes around at the end, trying to answer that question. The only answer I can come up with is incremental, tying progress in governance to (a) further aid, especially to Rwanda and (b) refusing to buy raw materials from the Congo without clear progress in such incremental steps. The latter, of course, would require the co-operation of big corporations. Hmm. This would mean asking the executives and managers and purchasers to tie their commercial policies to social progress in the region. Asking them not to be complicit with evil. Perhaps the baptismal promises are there after all. But could we get the Russians on board as well?

  2. evan miller says:

    Only the Second Coming can end the misery in Congo.

  3. Terry Tee says:

    For a very different analysis, including critique of Kristof, see: