Recent Genocides
Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. Recent genocides have occurred in Sudan against 
Darfur’s ethnic Fur, Massalit, and Zhagawa peoples and in Myanmar against its Rohingya minority.

Tensions Continue as a Result of Sudanese Genocides

Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom and Egypt in 1956, Sudan has struggled to find peace between its Muslim northern regions and its animist and Christian southern regions. Continuous conflict led to the creation of an autonomous South Sudan, but tensions persist. Civil wars in the region have taken an estimated 2.5 million lives and displaced approximately four million people.

Beside the warring north and south of Sudan, recent genocides have occurred in a western part of the nation known as Darfur. In February 2003, rebel groups led by predominantly by non-Arab Muslim sedentary tribes, including the Fur and Zaghawa, rose up against the Khartoum government due to unequal treatment and economic marginalization. In response, the government sent militias known as Janjaweed, which translates to “evil men on horseback,” whose duties were to carry out attacks on villages. The Janjaweed used slash and burn methods to decimate communities as well as injuring and murdering civilians and poisoning wells.

The Darfurian genocide was the first genocide of the 21st century and its unrest and violence have not yet ceased. As of 2016, more than 480,000 people have been murdered and more than 2.8 million people have been displaced. Many refugees have fled Sudan and some have been living in camps for more than 10 years.

Recent Genocides in Myanmar Draw Global Attention

Myanmar, the nation formerly known as Burma, lived under the governance of an oppressive military junta from 1962 to 2011. The government is now under civilian control, but the military continues to wield extensive power and commit human rights abuses. Its population is mostly Buddhist with large Christian and Muslim minorities.

Two-thirds of Myanmar’s people identify as Burmese or Bamar, but there are 135 ethnic minorities residing in the country. The Christian Karen people and the Muslim Rohingya people of Myanmar have faced long-standing systemic violence and oppression from the Buddhist government. Aid agencies estimate that 200,000 Karen have been driven from their homes in the decades of conflict and as recently as 2010 the government was still burning, shelling and abusively sweeping Karen villages.

The Rohingya Muslims have also had a long-standing history of genocide and statelessness. In 1982, the Burmese military stripped the Rohingya of their citizenship, claiming that they were Bengali despite their having lived in Burma’s Rakhine State for generations. This led to a mass migration of over 250,000 Rohingya people to Bangladesh in 1991 and 1992, but they were met with deportation once in Bangladesh and were forced to return to Burma.

The recent genocides of the Rohingya in Myanmar began in 2012 when political party officials, senior Buddhist monks and state security forces committed mass killings of men, women and children. The cleansing left 150,000 Rohingya homeless and more than 100,000 fled the country.

Even more recently, in August 2017, a small rebellion of Rohingya militants led to military retaliation against any and all Rohingya people. These attacks caused the largest refugee movement since the Rwandan genocide. More than 675,000 Rohingya fled the country within three months to seek safety in Bangladesh. As of January 2018, more than one million Rohingya refugees have been registered in Bangladesh.

Fulfilling the Promise to End Genocide Worldwide

Ethnic cleansing and genocide are not acts of the past. Religious and cultural minorities continue to face persecution and attempts at forced extinction. However, this does not mean that individuals elsewhere must simply be bystanders to such atrocities. Raising awareness about the genocides occurring in the world and donating time or money to organizations that work to end genocide can make an impact and ensure that the world does not turn a blind eye to those in danger.

The organization United to End Genocide states that one of the best ways for individuals to help prevent and stop genocide is to vote for representatives who support foreign aid and acknowledge global atrocities. Support representatives who make the end of genocide a priority.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr

Child soldier in SomaliaSince 1991, the Federal Republic of Somalia has been involved in an ongoing civil war being fought between the transitional federal government (TFG) and al-Shabab militants.

This civil war continues to acquire worldwide attention for its recruitment of child soldiers, often used by al-Shabab and the Somali National Army (SNA).

Child Soldiers in Somalia

Child soldiers are children or individuals under the age of 18 who are used for any military purpose. As of 2016, 1,915 children have been recruited and used in the Somali civil war.

The number of child soldiers in Somalia has almost doubled since 2015 because of an increase in al-Shabab abduction cases. Out of 950 children abducted since 2015, 87 percent were abducted by al-Shabab. The SNA is also responsible for 920 cases of child soldiers. Here are 10 key facts about child soldiers in Somalia.

Top 10 Facts About Child Soldiers in Somalia

  1. Child soldiers are not only used to fight in the war. Though some children serve as combatants, others also serve as porters, messengers, spies and cooks. Young girls are forced to marry al-Shabab militants or recruited as sexual slaves in brothels.
  2. Children are recruited as soldiers because they can be easily coerced. They are more likely to comply and be easily influenced than adults. Al-Shabab relies on recruiting child soldiers because they are easier to manipulate.
  3. Seventy percent of child soldiers have been recruited by al-Shabab. Al-Shabab has recruited and trained children as young as age nine to be combatants. Over 50 percent of al-Shabab members are believed to be children, according to the U.N.
  4. Poverty and living in a combat zone can increase the probability of a child becoming a child soldier. Some poor children decide to join a military organization if there is a lack of access to education or to end a poverty cycle. Living in a combat zone also causes separations between children and their families.
  5. Child soldiers and children in Somalia endured 18 cases of denial of humanitarian access to children. Clan militias (10), al-Shabab (5), the SNA (2) and Puntland armed forces (1) are responsible for the grave violation.
  6. Hardships and abuse do not end when child soldiers are arrested and detained. The special circumstances of children who were recruited and coerced into war activity are unrecognized. Child soldiers in detention are threatened, tortured and forcibly sign confessions.
  7. In 2001, SAACID implemented the first Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program in Mogadishu, Somalia. SAACID (pronounced ‘say-eed’ in Somali, meaning ‘to help’) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on improving the lives of women, children and the poor. Programs were created by the U.N. to reintegrate child soldiers into society, but these still lack the protection of rights of children. Former child soldiers of al-Shabab also fear to leave DDR compounds and possible reprisal from al-Shabab.
  8. Once reintegrated, former child soldiers have difficulty finding a job with little to no skills or education. UNICEF and INTERSOS offer vocational training programs for former Somali child soldiers. The program offers training in plumbing, carpentry, electrical and tailoring. In 2016, over 900 former Somali child soldiers received these services.
  9. The SNA takes measures to improve the protection of children. The SNA formed a plan of action with the U.N. that follows Security Council resolutions 1539 and 1612.
  10. The Dallaire Initiative establishes a child protection advisor in the African Union Mission of Somalia (AMISOM). The British Peace Support Training Team in Kenya will train members from AMISOM, SNA and the Somali National. The training will instruct how to counteract the use of child soldiers.

AMISOM and Future Developments

AMISOM held a forum with the security sector and AMISOM military in November 2017. The meeting primarily focused on the disadvantages of recruiting child soldiers and policies and law enforcement that can prevent it.

According to Musa Gbow, AMISOM’s Child Protection Advisor and coordinator of the workshop, “We have to ensure that the Federal Government and Federal member states continue to work together especially with regards to dealing with the prevention of the recruitment and use of children as soldiers in the conflict in Somalia.”

Recent developments, like Gbow’s dedication to creating a child protection policy at the federal and regional level, create hope for the futures of all children of armed conflict.

– Diane Adame
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Genocide in Sudan
Genocide in Sudan has been continuous since post World War II and has become known as the first genocide of the 21st century. The first Sudanese Civil War began in 1955 and did not end until a peace treaty was created in 1972, lasting for 11 years before the second Sudanese Civil War began in 1983 and ended again in 2005. Within this span of time, numerous peace treaties have been drafted to cease violence across Sudan. However, the issue of genocide has continued to be a problem throughout the country. Here are some facts about genocide in Sudan:

7 Facts About Genocide in Sudan

  1. The genocide began with a civil war caused by The Khartoum government, led by General Omar al-Bashir, that wanted the group of Christians and animists who lived in southern Sudan to conform to an Islam-based government. The International Criminal Court put out a warrant for the arrest of Omar al-Bashir on March 4, 2010 for charges of genocide and acts against humanity. The Sudanese government retaliated by failing to give al-Bashir over and refused sources of aid from other countries.
  2. In 2005, and with international aid, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended the civil war by providing South Sudan with more political power.
  3. Seen as a step toward ending the violence, South Sudan was named a new country on July 9, 2005.
  4. A rebellion in the Darfur region of Sudan led to the genocide of civilians, causing the death of more than 300,000. Another of the facts about genocide in Sudan is that the Darfur Genocide began in 2003 with the mass murder and rape of people living in Western Sudan. These killings were carried out by a government-funded group called the Janjaweed. The group was called upon to stop a series of rebellions in Darfur. These attacks continued until 2010 when the Sudanese government had the Darfur rebels sign an agreement to cease fire and the two groups began drafting the Doha peace forum, which was a long-term peace agreement.
  5. Two factors that played a role in the conflicts are the competition over short-supplied resources and the north’s socio-economical takeover of the southern Sudanese, who as a majority are non-Muslim and non-Arab.
  6. Many of those who fled the genocide occurring in Sudan now live in one of 13 refugee camps in Chad. There are more than 360,000 people who reside in these camps.
  7. Violence has carried on into 2016. According to the U.N., more than 3 million remain affected by the ongoing genocide. Amnesty International asserted the government utilized chemical weapons against its citizens and 190,000 people were moved from Sudan.

Though civilians are still heavily impacted by the genocide occurring in Sudan, there are ways that the U.S. and the U.N. can help. Outside of stating facts about genocide in Sudan, the U.S. can request a thorough independent international investigation of the crimes committed on citizens throughout Southern Sudan with the International Criminal Court. The U.S. government can also request the U.N. Security Council accredit a force to maintain peace and provide resources necessary to protect the citizens in Sudan and the surrounding area.

– Alyssa Hannam
Photo: Flickr

Facts about the Lake Chad Basin Crisis
The Lake Chad Basin crisis is a humanitarian emergency that is among the most severe in the world. This crisis began in 2009 with the violence caused in Nigeria by Boko Haram, an Islamic jihadist group that was formed in 2002. Since then, the conflict has also spread to Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

This humanitarian disaster has caused hunger, malnutrition and displacement in the region. Additionally, violence continues and Boko Haram even aims to prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid. Because the crisis is often overlooked, it is important to address the facts about the Lake Chad Basin crisis.

10 Facts About the Lake Chad Basin Crisis

  1. Although its mission now is to overthrow the Nigerian government, the Boko Haram group was originally created to resist western education and influence. The group is also against things like voting in elections, an education system without religion and dressing with shirts and pants because this reflects western influence.
  2. As of May 2016, around 20,000 people had been killed by the extremists. Additionally, as a result of the crisis, many children have been separated from their families and are often killed or recruited to join armed groups. Females are also subject to physical abuse, forced labor, rape, forced marriage and sexual assault.
  3. There are more than 17 million people living in the affected areas across the four Lake Chad Basin countries. Many who are living in these affected areas are solely dependent on humanitarian aid for survival.
  4. The conflict has resulted in around 2.4 million people being displaced. More than half of those who were displaced were children. Of these children, 50 percent were under the age of five when displaced from their homes.
  5. There is an increased risk of disease in the area since malnutrition rates have reached critical levels. Those who are suffering from the conflict often depend on international aid for medical assistance. This can be extremely problematic due to Boko Haram’s efforts to stop foreign aid from reaching the area.
  6. There are 5.2 million people in need of food assistance as a result of the conflict. Approximately 745,000 suffer from acute malnourishment. Of these people, 490,000 are children.
  7. Currently, around four million people are food insecure in the affected regions. Unfortunately, it is predicted that this will increase to almost five million in the lean season between June and August.
  8. The severity of the conflict and its consequences continues to increase. Civilians are frequently still under attack by the Boko Haram group. The number of internally displaced people continues to substantially rise in the region, even though millions of people have already been displaced.
  9. The U.N. estimates that nearly 11 million people in the region require and depend on humanitarian assistance for survival. Approximately 7.7 million people requiring aid are located in the northeastern region of Nigeria in the three most affected states: Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
  10. Currently, it is estimated that around $1.58 billion will be required in aid to the region for 2018. Unfortunately, only $477 million, or approximately 30 percent of the goal, has been funded. It is important to encourage international assistance for this particular cause in order to ensure the survival of millions.

Many NGOs and foreign governments are working together to improve the living situation of those suffering from the Lake Chad Basin crisis. However, it is still important to urge senators and representatives to pass legislation that can assist in this humanitarian emergency that has left millions in need due to hunger, violence and displacement.

– Luz Solano-Flórez

Photo: Flickr

Countries with Child Soldiers
The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a ‘child’ as a person below the age of eighteen years. Children across the world have been used as soldiers in state and non-state military warfare, including World Wars I and II.

The 1970s saw a rise of humanitarian groups that raised the awareness of protecting children from the onslaughts of war, and it was during this time that the word “child soldier” appeared as an unacceptable condition. Though the 2002 Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court made enlistment of children under fifteen a war-crime, countries with child soldiers have consistently fallen behind in addressing this issue.

The United Nations (U.N.) estimates that, at present, approximately 300,000 children are used as child soldiers in more than 20 countries in the world, and forty percent of these children are girls. According to the U.N.’s 2017 studies, these are some of the countries with child soldiers:

Countries with Child Soldiers

  1. Central African Republic (CAR): The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) helped release more than 2,800 child soldiers in CAR in 2014. Poverty leads children from a lot of families to join the militia for food and money. Children as young as 8 years old are used as soldiers by groups in Christian militias known as Anti-Balaka and Muslim Séléka coalition. Soldiering involves being used as human shields, messengers, fighters and sex slaves.
  2. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): The Congolese National Army and the rebel Congress for the Defense of the People have been active recruiters of child soldiers. Young boys and girls are abducted and used as fighters and sex slaves by groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army. This occurs not only in DRC, but also southern Sudan, northeastern Congo and the CAR.
  3. Somalia: Children as young as ten are often abducted and coerced into soldiering. The Transitional Federal Government and Islamist group al-Shabaab are known to carry out these recruitments which lead to “horrific abuses,” according Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports. These violations include forced recruitment, rape, forced marriage, religious/political teaching, suicide-bombing, combat and weapons training.
  4. Colombia: Thousands of children are recruited by guerillas and paramilitary forces like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army, the Camilist Union-National Liberation Army, and the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. HRW reveals, “At least one of every four irregular combatants in Colombia’s civil war is under eighteen years old.” These children are recruited, trained and expected to carry explosives and executions.
  5. Myanmar: The HRW report, ‘Sold to be Soldiers’ (2007), states that a large portion of the Tatmadaw consists of underage soldiers. In a lot of instances, young boys are lured or coerced into joining the Tatmadaw. In addition to this horrific occurrence, there are numerous non-state armed groups like the Karenni Army, the Karen National Liberation Army and others that use child soldiers.
  6. Afghanistan: The U.N. reports the use of young children as fighters and suicide-bombers in Afghanistan. In Child Soldiers, David Rosen points out the prevalence of underage soldiers in groups like The Afghan National Police, Haqqani, Taliban, Islamic groups called Hezb-i-Islami and Jamat Sunat al-Dawa Salafia, and Tora Bora front.
  7. Iraq: The Sunni and Shia Arab groups fighting in the region — along with other militias involved in the battle for Mosul — are reported to recruit child soldiers. According to HRW reports, Yezidi and Kurdish boys and girls are used as combatants by groups like the Shingal Resistance Units and People’s Defense Forces.
  8. Yemen: Children as young as 14 are deployed here as soldiers by the Yemeni Government to combat the Houthi rebels. UNICEF regards this as more of a socio-cultural problem, as in Yemeni culture, manhood begins at the age of 14 and such adulthood demands the taking up of a weapon. In 2015, the U.N. reported 850 recruitments of children as soldiers. Armed groups like Al-Qaeda also use children for warfare and as sex slaves.
  9. Syria: The civil war in Syria has led to the deployment of many children as young as seven as soldiers by armed groups. Rebel factions fighting against the government and Islamic groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiya, Tawhid Brigade and the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham use child soldiers. These children are used to ferry ammunitions, fight, tend to the wounded, spy, act as snipers and suicide-bombers, and torture and execute prisoners.
  10. Sudan and South Sudan: More than a dozen armed groups, including pro-government militias, groups affiliated to the Sudan Liberation Army, and Sudanese Armed Forces, in Sudan, recruit children. In South Sudan, the South Sudanese Armed Forces and other opposition groups continue to deploy child soldiers. HRW notes that children as young as thirteen are abducted, detained and forced into soldiering.

The Fight of International Aid Organizations

Wars, absence of education, poverty, religious/political conditioning and abduction are some of the causes that contribute to this social crime. UNICEF and ILO have been working with government ministries to stop the use of child soldiers by both state and non-state parties. Programs sponsored by UNICEF and various human rights groups aim towards rehabilitation of child soldiers, building community networks, funding and providing education.

Child Soldiers International has been working with local organizations and advocating the protection of children and reintegration of former child soldiers. HRW has been creating information databases on recruitment patterns of a number of agencies in these countries. Though change is slow, the attempt to improve the condition of millions of children in countries with child soldiers remains consistent.

– Jayendrina Singha Ray
Photo: Flickr

Yemen child soldiers
As of March 2015, the United Nations has confirmed that at least 2,369 children have been recruited as Yemen child soldiers. Some of these children are engaged in active combat.

Child recruits in the Middle East and North Africa have doubled within a year as of 2017. According to southern Yemeni officials, there may be as many as 6,000 child soldiers throughout the country and 20,000 are in need of war rehabilitation. The situation in Yemen has been called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 18.8 million people needing aid and seven million going hungry.

The United Nations has argued that children and young people are receiving the worst of the conflict’s repercussions. The organization claims Houthis were responsible for 359 of 517 cases of Yemen child soldiers in 2016; 76 were recruited by government-backed groups like the Popular Resistance and the coalition. Others were recruited by Al Qaeda and its associated groups.

The Yemen conflict was set in motion in 2014 when the northern Shiite Muslim rebels, or the Houthis, allied themselves with the military and took over the Yemeni capital of Sana and other cities due to discontent with the government and president. In retaliation for the Houthis’ strike against the government, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations became involved in the conflict.

Since 2015, Saudi airstrikes have been led in an attempt to restore President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to power. The Houthis, backed by Iran, and the Saudis, backed by the U.S., U.K. and France, effectively tore the country apart with their fighting, splitting it between the north and the south.

In some ways, the destruction and conflict have forced families to view their children as valuable resources. The child soldiers’ pay of $55 every three months may be necessary to keep the family afloat, while female children are married off in exchange for a dowry. Furthermore, recruits are given a hot meal daily; 47 percent of Yemeni children suffer from stunting due to malnourishment.

The Houthis have promised monthly allowances of $80-120 to the families of child soldiers in the event that their children were to die. The group will print posters in memory of fallen Yemen child soldiers, as well.

Continuous violence and destroyed infrastructure puts civilians, and especially children, in a precarious situation.“With no end in sight to these conflicts and with families’ dwindling financial resources, many have no choice but to send their children to work or marry their daughters early,” UNICEF’s Regional Director Geert Cappelaere explained to The Guardian.

In 2014, the Yemeni government signed an action plan with the U.N. that contained a list of stipulations to ensure that there would be no more use of child soldiers. Unfortunately, progress on this front has been stalled due to the conflict and the issue of Yemen child soldiers has not yet been resolved.

Still, organizations like U.N. relief agencies continue to help where they can. “We remain committed to helping the people of Yemen. We have reached nearly six million people with clean water, distributed 3.7 million liters of fuel to public hospitals [and] treated more than 167,000 children for severe acute malnutrition,” U.N. leaders conveyed.

– Camille Wilson

Photo: Flickr

Critical Global Issues
Global issues can be defined as any social, economic, political and environmental issues that affect the world in a catastrophic way. Living in the current world certainly has its uncertainties and challenges. There are numerous critical global issues that need immediate attention. Although progress toward solving them is being made, it is rather slow.

Five Critical Global Issues

  1. Biosecurity: Biosecurity refers to the measures taken to reduce the spread or introduction of infectious diseases in animals, plants and human beings. The goal of biosecurity is to prevent various biological risk factors whether natural, accidental or man-made. These risk factors have the potential to cause mass destruction, killing millions of people and causing huge economic loss and instability.
  2. Promoting Effective Altruism: Effective altruism can be described as various ways to benefit others as much as possible using one’s own resources. It involves devoting all kinds of altruistic behavior like time, money, energy and attention to people’s well-being. The four main focus areas of effective altruism are poverty reduction, meta effective altruism, the far future and animal suffering.Charity is one of the many ways to promote effective altruism. In the United States alone, there are about one million charities receiving a total of approximately $200 billion a year. Also, it is not necessary to be a millionaire to be effectively altruistic; even the smallest donation can make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
  3. Social Hostility: Social hostility can also be referred to as conflicts or wars caused due to intolerance and discrimination against others’ beliefs. In the present world, violence and discrimination have reached new heights in almost all regions of the world. Religious conflicts are seen to be strongly prevalent in one-third of the world’s 198 countries and territories. The countries ranking high for such conflicts are Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Somalia and Israel.
  4. Destruction of Nature: Humans’ destruction of nature is taking a major toll on the world. Deforestation, done for various reasons like farming, cattle grazing, expanding cities and building dams, has caused environmental degradation and climate change. Deforestation has also led to losing 18.7 million acres of forests every year, which equals to 27 soccer fields a minute.Trees help absorb carbon dioxide which helps to cool the planet’s temperature down but the loss of trees from deforestation reverses this process. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation. Thus, destruction of nature is another critical global issue that requires immediate preventive measures.
  5. Children’s Lives: In a report from 2017, UNICEF claims that child mortality has dropped from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.6 million in 2016. This is a positive change but the number of deaths is still extremely significant; 15,000 children die every day. One of the significant causes of child mortality is malnutrition, while pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria are also significant factors.According to a report published from Save the Children on May 31, 2018, it is estimated that around 1.2 billion children are exposed to at least one of three threats: poverty, conflict or discrimination against girls. 153 million people are at a risk of suffering from all three. For the overall progress toward healthy living and well-being to continue, there is an urgent need to address and assist these vulnerable children.

These are only a few of the world’s most critical global issues. If society is to one day come together and attain total peace and security, these problems must be attended to as soon as possible. The safety of future generations depends on the actions taken now.

– Shweta Roy
Photo: Flickr

facts about genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has experienced ongoing violence since the mid-1990s. Although the DRC has the potential to be one of the richest countries in the world with its vast resources, parties and rebels in the DRC are taking and profiting from the resources and committing mass murder in the process. These are seven facts about genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Facts About Genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  1. Many believe the genocide committed by the DRC is a result of and closely connected to the conflict in Rwanda in 1994. Fighting still continues today on the Rwanda-DRC border, caused by the persecution of Rwandan Hutu refugees who fled to the DRC. A human rights activist from the border city of Goma told the BBC, “People don’t talk about it enough… but the Rwandan genocide was like flicking over the first domino.”
  2. The main participants in the genocide and violence in the DRC include the national army, the Armed Forces of the DRC and diverse groups of rebels throughout the country, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and Mayi-Mayi militias.
  3. The atrocities of the genocide not only include mass murders, but also abductions, rape, child labor and the displacement of persons. The DRC has been involved in the conflict since 1996, which is estimated to be the cause of more than six million deaths. Because of widespread violence, more than three million people have been forced to leave their homes and many continue to go without humanitarian assistance.
  4. Many of the six million deaths have been indirect consequences of the war. Diseases such as malnutrition and malaria have run rampant due to the country’s political instability and lack of infrastructure.
  5. The violence is far from over. In August 2017, the U.N. reported that in the DRC’s Kasai province, an estimated 2,000 people have been murdered due to ethnicity-based violence and that several mass graves have since been discovered in the area.
  6. Since December 2017, more than 34 villages have been ransacked by Lendu militiamen, who have killed many, including women and children, while also leaving many Hema people homeless. The DRC government has since decided not to intervene. However, the U.N. did warn the government months beforehand about a potential ethnic conflict that could lead to the deaths of many.
  7. There have since been efforts and intervention to address DRC’s genocide. In 1999, the U.N. created the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in order to protect civilians and transform the country. In 2013, the U.N. extended MONUSCO further, making it first U.N. mission to include offensive action to strengthen the peacekeeping operation. The U.N.’s intervention brigade has since helped defeat the M23 rebels and continues to extend its mandate to stop other rebel groups.

These facts about genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are only a portion of the complex situation in the DRC. With the country’s weak governance and many rebel groups, the DRC’s people have been constrained by too many years of violence and conflict. Nevertheless, by putting a stop to corruption, human rights violations and rebel groups through continued international efforts, the DRC has the potential to be a rich and prosperous country.

– Emma Martin
Photo: Flickr

The Effects of Poverty

Poverty can have lasting impacts on both the people and communities in which it is present. The effects of poverty are often detrimental to both the health and education of people that are affected by it, and can lead to higher crime and mortality rates in neighborhoods and countries where the poverty level is high.

More than 10,000 children die every day because they live in poor housing. The effects of poverty on children are even more dangerous than for adults, because children are still developing. While in their developing stages, without access to healthy living conditions or secure access to food and water, children easily succumb to both disease and death. Living in a house that does not have adequate ventilation or proper heating can cause lasting damage to a child’s health, if they survive at all.

Poverty also affects education for people of all ages. Younger students will not be able to afford school supplies or clothes for school. As students get older, without a scholarship, secondary education and college are out of the question. Sometimes, even with a scholarship, they are not able to attend, because they have a family to support at home and need to work. Without adequate education, many people end up working for minimal pay, which keeps them impoverished for the duration of their lives and continues the cycle of poverty within the home.

The effects of poverty include high crime rates in affected communities. People without the proper resources to survive often resort to theft and violence in order to survive. Oftentimes, in high poverty areas there are also high unemployment rates, and because people are unable to obtain jobs, they resort to crime because they feel they have no other options.

The cycle of continued poverty also has a significant negative effect on the health of citizens. Substance abuse is often higher in areas with high poverty rates. This only continues to drive families deeper into poverty and continues the vicious cycle of poverty in the community. There are also more crippling accidents, because people in poverty tend to take jobs in unsafe working conditions to make money.

Poverty also has the power to divide society. The lower class is pitted against the higher class and vice-versa. This allows the gap between the two to become even larger without a chance to rectify the problem. In countries with large gaps between the two classes, the middle class is often small or nonexistent, which is an important stepping stone for people in a lower class to earn better wages. As that class disappears, the amount of impoverished citizens will continue to grow.

The effects of poverty are plentiful and widespread. The amount of crime, violence and death that run rampant in communities with high poverty rates are no coincidence, and are a direct result of the amount of poverty in that area. In order to diminish crime and violence in these areas, poverty has to be diminished first.

– Simone Williams

Photo: Flickr

Although the Croatian War has been over for more than twenty years, the aftermath is still present within the region. Lack of economic and political stability are current problems that Croatia faces. Professor Daliborka Uljarevic, a leader in the Centre for Citizens’ Education, says “political rhetoric and lack of profound economic recovery keep people stuck in recent past, with poor view on better future.” Here are the top 10 Croatian war facts that provide a better understanding of what happened during the war and how Croatia remains affected.

Top 10 Croatian War Facts:

  1. The war started in response to an oppressive government. Nazi rule took over in 1941 and communism dominated Croatia for nearly 50 years. People started to revolt against the government in the movement known as the Croatian Spring of 1971 and Croatian nationalism began to foster.
  2. Croatia was a part of Yugoslavia when it was ruled by communism. Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina were all also under Yugoslavia rule.
  3. Croatia declared independence in 1991 against Yugoslavia rule and the war lasted from 1991-1995.
  4. The U.N. separated Croatia into four areas to disconnect the battling groups of Serbs and Croats. When Croatia later got involved in the Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict, Bosniak Muslims were also separated.
  5. The U.N. Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) emergency relief in the Balkans was the largest of UNHCR’s operations. Costing more than one billion U.S. dollars, the U.N. provided close to a million tons of humanitarian supplies and food within 1991-1995 that ultimately saved many people from death.
  6. Despite the vast humanitarian assistance, more than 120,000 people died during the conflict. Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats made up the majority of the people who died. Two million individuals out of the four million population sought refuge in the neighboring country of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  7. The Battle of Vukovar was one of the bloodiest battles on Croatian soil and lasted 87 days. Of the Croats and non-Serbs, 7,000 were sent to concentration camps and approximately 22,000 fled the area for their lives.
  8. The war led to mass economic destruction. A quarter of the economy was destroyed, as there were $36 billion of war damages and 180,000 destroyed homes.
  9. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) helps victims of the war have a voice and justice for their suffering. The ICTY still works on resolving war crimes and establishing punishments for those who are guilty. There are still people unaccounted for.
  10. The U.S. led Dayton Peace Accords established peace in the area, bringing an end to the war. The country is now separated into two areas, one where the Bosnian Serbs are dominant and another where the Bosnian Muslims and Croats are dominant. Tensions still run high amongst these groups.

These 10 Croatian war facts do not demonstrate the full monstrosity that ensued during 1991-1995. Victims are still suffering to this day and many families still have not found their missing loved ones.

– Mary McCarthy

Photo: Flickr