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measles in democratic republic of congoThe Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a measles outbreak in June 2019. Since then, more than 310,000 have been affected by this epidemic. Measles is an extremely contagious and airborne disease that can cause rashes, fevers and coughing. The virus is especially dangerous for children. Most developed countries can combat measles through vaccinations, but developing countries aren’t able to fully eradicate and achieve a herd immunity of a sizeable population majority, leading to constant outbreaks.

How COVID-19 is Affecting the Situation

Due to COVID-19, more than 117 million children could not receive their measles vaccine following the halt of vaccination campaigns. Measles may kill more people in developing countries than COVID-19 if outbreaks continue. At least 6,500 children have already died from measles in the DRC. Most world leaders are focusing on COVID-19 rather than the vaccine-preventable diseases that could potentially wreak havoc on developing nations. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is currently leading the world in the highest numbers of measles cases. This trend is likely to continue without significant aid and the continuation of vaccination campaigns. The DRC also has an incredibly weak healthcare system, so it greatly relies on NGOs and foreign aid to administer vaccines & life-saving medicines to the country.

Other Diseases in the DRC

In addition to measles, the DRC is currently combating cholera, polio, COVID-19 and Ebola. “On June 1, 2020, the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared its eleventh Ebola outbreak.” This is before the tenth outbreak was declared over on June 25, 2020; however, WHO has stated that these two outbreaks are separate. Due to the limited resources caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this outbreak will be harder to contain than previous outbreaks.

In the past, multiple Ebola outbreaks have drawn more attention than the measles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, COVID-19 is drawing more attention than measles. However, all three diseases need to be dealt with alongside the other diseases harming the DRC. During an Ebola outbreak in earlier months, measles was overlooked, which led to a resurgence. Measles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must receive the attention necessary to combat it. In addition to the disease itself, the DRC is also suffering from malnutrition, food insecurity and economic uncertainty. All of these factors make the population more vulnerable to other diseases, particularly children.

How To Help

The best way to help combat measles in the DRC is to ensure vaccination campaigns can start again. An increase in foreign aid will help the nation reach this goal. The DRC needs to achieve 95% vaccination to recover, but that goal seems incredibly unlikely due to the current COVID-19 panic. With the majority of the world also focused on COVID-19, it is unlikely that the DRC will receive all the international aid they require at this time. An additional $40 million will be needed on top of the $27.6 million received to successfully fight measles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Organizations like Doctors Without Borders are continuously working to fight measles outbreaks in DRC. As of June 2020, the organization has succeeded in vaccinating 82,000 children after “three back-to-back campaigns.” Doctors Without Borders cautions the world that measles cannot be ignored even with the current COVID-19 crisis. They are taking extra precautions during this time to reduce the risk of co-infection.

While COVID-19 is an important and urgent issue, it is imperative that leaders continue to send help to those abroad struggling with the fall-outs of poverty whenever possible. Measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one example of how important foreign assistance and vaccination campaigns are in saving lives in developing countries.

– Jacquelyn Burrer
Photo: Flickr

Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), located in Central Africa, is a resource-rich nation that has been plagued by conflict for decades. It has been the site of ongoing violence and civil war in what is known as the deadliest crisis since World War II. The country possesses vast amounts of natural wealth but mineral wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo is even more famous, including gold, diamonds and coltan (a mineral essential to manufacturing cell phones). It is currently sitting on approximately $24 trillion worth of raw minerals; however, it suffers from perpetual strife and endemic poverty.

How is it possible that such a resource-rich nation is so engulfed in crisis? What role has natural wealth played in destabilizing the DRC?

Oftentimes, in states with vast natural resources, greed abounds and corruption permeates the fabric of society. This relationship has its roots in colonialism in the case of the DRC. The DRC was once a colony of Belgium’s King Leopold II, who exploited the colony’s abundant resources. In 1960, the Belgian government abruptly awarded the colony its independence, resulting in a nation without the experience to govern itself efficiently. In its infancy, the nation suffered from civil war and dictatorship, both of which drained natural resources.

The bloody conflicts that have stained the DRC’s postcolonial history have been funded largely by mineral wealth. In the eastern part of the DRC, illegal trade of minerals, especially coltan and gold, helps finance rebel groups. The combination of ineffective governance and abundant mining opportunities have made it relatively easy to fund insurgency, especially in this region. The International Peace Information Services estimates that 57 percent of Congolese gold miners work with an armed group present. International corporations have often bought minerals obtained from unregulated mining from rebel groups. An estimated $1 billion in resource revenue has been lost due to these types of foreign companies. The majority of profits made from mining in the DRC is used to perpetuate armed conflicts or to line the pockets of CEOs in foreign countries. Most citizens, 63 percent of whom live below the poverty line, are harmed by the effects of the wealth that should benefit them.

Undoubtedly, the extensive mineral wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been a curse. But how can this legacy of exploitation be reversed? How can the resources that have financed war be used to improve the lives of the Congolese?

There is still hope that the Democratic Republic of Congo will be able to reform itself. Between 1990 and 2015 the country’s Human Development Index increased 22 percent, proving that progress is not just possible; it is plausible. Through the cooperation of the DRC’s government, the international community, as well as the efforts of non-governmental organizations, the Democratic Republic of Congo makes strides toward achieving stability.

Emma Bentley

Photo: Flickr

Why Is the Democratic Republic of Congo Poor
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources. It sits on an estimated $24 trillion worth of natural resources, including 3.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, large deposits of iron ore, platinum, diamonds, gold and uranium, as well as 106270 square kilometers of arable land. Despite all this, its citizens make, on average, only $800 per year, and 63% live under the poverty line. Given its vast mineral wealth and natural resources, why is the Democratic Republic of the Congo poor?

 

Colonization, Political Instability, and the Resource Curse: Why is the Democratic Republic of the Congo Poor?

 

Due to the DRC’s great wealth of natural resources, it has consistently been exploited by imperial European powers throughout its history. When first discovered by the Western world in the sixteenth century, millions of Congolese men and women were stolen from their homeland and shipped around the globe to act as slaves for European industry.

Later, when slavery was eventually abolished throughout most of the developed world, the Congo was still not safe from pillage. When tires became a staple due to the rise of cars and bicycles, the rubber was taken from the Congo. When World War I was fought, 75% of the copper used in bullet casings were mined in the Congo. And when the United States dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan in World War II, you can bet the uranium came from the Congo too.

During this period, which lasted from 1879 to 1959, the Congo region was controlled by the Belgian empire. However, colonial exploitation alone cannot be the only answer to the question “why is the Democratic Republic of the Congo poor?” Due to the abundance of uranium in the region, the Soviet Union and the United States carried out proxy wars in the Congo by supporting vying factions during the Cold War.

Since then, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been subject to a slew of dictatorial rulers, often with foreign support. After the Rwandan genocide of 1994, over a million Hutu took refuge in the Congo (then called Zaire), bringing with them both disease and rebellion.

After more than a decade of war, the Democratic Republic of the Congo gained enough stability to attempt a democratic government, though the election itself was rife with violence and conflict. There still remains a large faction of Rwandan rebels, and more than 800,000 people were displaced from their homes because of military operations meant to stop the rebel groups.

Another answer to the question “why is the Democratic Republic of the Congo poor?” can be found in the current president, Joseph Kabila. Not only is he suspected of stealing large portions of foreign aid, but he also provides those who do give aid access to the mineral resources of the DRC, at great expense to his own people, a repetition of the history of the country, which has been exploited by powers both foreign and domestic for centuries. These powers have worked hard to make sure the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo remain poor, unhealthy and disenfranchised; unable to take control of their own country and the incredible resources it possesses.

Connor Keowen
Photo: Flickr

DRC Poverty RateThe Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the largest countries in Central Africa and is a land rich with natural resources and raw materials, inevitably leading to an economic boom for its mining industry.

Despite a population of 77 million people, 80 million acres of land suitable for farming and an abundance of over 1,100 different rare metals and minerals, the DRC poverty rate remains among the highest in the world. While many consider it to be the poorest, the most recent United Nations Human Development Index of 2015 ranked the country at 176 out of 187 countries.

Between 1970 and 2012, the average annual growth rate of the DRC’s GDP per capita remained at -2.1 percent. From 1990-2012, annual inflation rates increased by 191 percent. As of 2011, an estimated 87.7 percent of the population, about 67.5 million people, remained under the international poverty line, which is currently $1.25 per day.

Currently, the average income for a Congolese citizen is about $400 per year. One example of the negative results of the DRC poverty rate is an extremely high infant mortality rate, with one in seven newborns dying before the age of 5.

Among other things, the poverty rate has caused a high usage of child labor, with about 25 percent of children ages 5-14 employed, an increasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS and a notable decline in school enrollment.

Additionally, the country has a 45 percent vaccination rate for some of the most commonly known diseases, a lack of access to clean drinking water and severe malnutrition nationwide.

Reasons for DRC Poverty

The reasons for the DRC poverty rate stem from a number of factors, however, can be summarized as the result of political instability and corruption, particularly in the mining industry.

In addition to this, there are large swaths of land in the country that are controlled by militia groups, the land where many mines are located, allowing for them to be the financial beneficiaries to some foreign investors.

This problem originates from government corruption and an intended overall lack of transparency in the mining contracts from all parties involved, specifically in regards to where the money will be directed. All of these factors have resulted in the DRC government losing more than $5 billion in revenue that could have been allotted to fund infrastructure, public health, education or foreign commerce.

Fortunately, two prominent activists have emerged to speak out against these injustices. American television star Robin Wright in “House of Cards,” in coordination with JD Stier, president of the social activist organization Stier Forward, has created the “Stand With Congo” campaign.

Stand With Congo

Founded in the spring of 2016, the campaign’s main focus geared toward influencing the Congolese mining industry to achieve full transparency, under the idea that doing so could inherently solve other problems for the country.

Another focus of the campaign is to demand that the current DRC President, Joseph Kabila, who is often associated with corruption, vacate office immediately. Kabila has been in power since 2006, and ignored the provisions of the DRC constitution, exceeding the two-term limit.

In 2016 alone, the Stand With Congo campaign hosted 88 events in 17 countries and has also joined the Congolese Youth Movement who is advocating for reelections and Kabila to be removed from office.

Hunter McFerrin

Photo: Flickr

Lessens Food Insecurity

On March 4, the U.N. released a $5 million grant to benefit approximately 108,000 Congolese citizens as part of a three-year aid plan. Dubbed the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), it is an initiative from multiple aid agencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The HRP is designed to concentrate on the basic needs, including the reduction of food insecurity for 6.7 million people in the DRC.

The DRC has been embroiled in clashes for nearly 20 years. The situation disintegrated even further in August 2016, when rebel militia leader Kamwina Nsapu was killed by government forces. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that at least 400 people were killed in the DRC in the backlash from that assassination. Hundreds of thousands more were forced from their homes.

The Most Vulnerable

The vast number of people needing assistance has forced aid groups to operate on a triage basis. The OCHA estimates that four million people will experience malnutrition, with 3.5 million of them being children, and 847,000 people facing acute malnutrition.

To help mitigate the food insecurity in the DRC, the HRP requested $748 million over a period of three years. Unfortunately, the OCHA reported that the previous years’ request was only 60 percent funded.

Without full funding, aid agencies have been forced to concentrate on “the most vulnerable among the vulnerable.” The conflicts have forced some of these people to shelter in the bush. Often, they don’t have access to clean drinking water, food or basic health services.

Can Many Hands Make Light Work?

Despite the potential financial shortfall, hope lies ahead. There are many other partners and agencies involved in the effort to save lives and fight food insecurity in the DRC. In December 2016, OCHA joined forces with UNICEF, Action Contre la Faim and the Adventist Development Relief Agency (both NGOs) to battle the crisis. The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) is also stepping up to address the situation in the DRC. They assist in regions affected by fighting and they respond to critical incidents surrounding epidemics and malnutrition.

UNAIDS representative Mamadou Diallo summarized the need for awareness and financial support to address food insecurity in the DRC: “It is imperative that appropriate attention is brought in support of those impacted by humanitarian crises regardless of where they happen. The humanitarian community is fully committed to responding and calls on donors to support the response activities.”

Although the $5 million grant from the U.N. is a far cry from OCHA’s $748 million target, hopefully it will galvanize other individuals and groups to support the DRC crisis.

Gisele Dunn

Photo: Flickr


The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo held their first election in 2006, and their young democratic nation has been making steady economic progress in the years since. However, research by organizations such as the World Food Programme and Action Against Hunger shows that economic progress in the DRC is not necessarily translating into improved lives for the nation’s poor. Experts suggest that acute and chronic hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the result of many factors, including the conflict in eastern regions and the government’s failure to invest in agriculture and infrastructure. Here are five facts about hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

  1. The majority of 6.7 million people suffering from hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo live in the nation’s eastern regions, in provinces such as North and South Kivu, nearby Orientale, Maniema and northern parts of Katanga. Unsurprisingly, these provinces are also the areas most affected by the ongoing ethnic and tribal anti-government conflicts in eastern Congo.
  2. Because of rampant hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo, nearly half of all children in the nation are short for their age, a medical phenomenon referred to as “stunting.” A number of factors contribute to stunted height, but the most important ones include poor feeding practices and poor maternal health before, during and after pregnancy.
  3. The ongoing conflict in eastern Congo has also driven many families away from the region, creating a huge number of internally displaced people and refugees. These people are especially vulnerable to malnourishment. The communities that host these people also become increasingly at risk to suffer food shortages.
  4. Lack of availability of clean drinking water also contributes to hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In many impoverished communities, families must walk for miles to reach the nearest clean water source, and because such a task can take up the better part of the day, most people only have enough time and strength to bring back water for themselves and their families. This leaves little available time and strength to get water for agricultural purposes, leading to food shortages.
  5. The government’s failure to invest in agriculture and infrastructure also fuels hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The most affected provinces lie in the east, the center of the ongoing conflict. Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, however, is in the western part of the country. Without proper roads, it can be difficult for hunger alleviation organizations to reach those who need aid the most. The fighting between the government and the rebels disrupts the people’s harvests and leads to more food shortages.

 

The old, ever-present geopolitical conflicts happening in eastern Congo put the young democratic nation in a vulnerable position, and the people living in the rural communities surrounding the area bear the brunt of the problems. Hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo is an example of why those who seek world prosperity should also seek world peace.

Mary Grace Costa

Photo: Flickr

Drinking Water
Despite having the largest freshwater resources in Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has long faced significant challenges in maintaining and furnishing potable drinking water to its citizens. More than 50 million Congolese face the daily trial of acquiring clean water, due to issues ranging from inadequate infrastructure to poor sanitation.

According to a 2015 UNICEF and World Health Organization study, almost 700 million people worldwide did not have access to clean drinking water — most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

Much of this water quality problem falls within the spectrum of sanitation. The DRC’s rate of urban expanse far outstrips its ability to furnish infrastructure that would deliver clean drinking water to those living in developing areas. In more rural communities, however, the opposite is true — water-furnishing infrastructure is almost non-existent, which puts these Congolese at a higher risk of consuming contaminated drinking water.

Many living in these areas use water from local streams and rivers, unaware that the same water source has been contaminated upstream with chemicals, bacteria and parasites. The people of the DRC share the experience of 2.4 billion people worldwide who do not have access to sanitary toilets.

However, many communities have addressed the water quality problem head-on, developing resourceful solutions to provide this necessity. Hand-drilled wells, for instance, are a much cheaper (although laborious) method of accessing fresh water in rural Congolese villages. UNICEF, via its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program (WASH), has been working tirelessly with the Congolese government to spread these solutions. They aspire to provide clean water to 4 million people by the end of 2017.

Large-scale efforts have positively impacted the water quality in the DRC. The U.N.’s Environment Program (UNEP) helped to complete a community-led catchment management project on the Lukaya River basin in 2016. These projects work with the natural processes of the local ecosystem, providing drinking water to 400,000 people living in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa.

Despite a history of instability and conflict, the people of the DRC have made great strides in improving their water quality. Organizations such as UNICEF and UNEP bring great support to this cause, and if global interest continues, general health and welfare in these areas will drastically improve as well.

Emily Marshall

Photo: Flickr

USAID in DRC

Friends and family members of Kevin Surr can sleep a little easier tonight. The USAID official was freed earlier this week after having been arrested at a pro-democracy assembly in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

That does not mean, however, that the conflict at the center of his detainment is over. The reality is far from resolution. Along with Surr, Congolese security personnel arrested about 40 others at the same conference where dozens of journalists, activists and reformers were in attendance.

The problem began when Congolese intelligence erroneously informed security that the press conference was a meeting for political insurrectionists. In fact, it had been presented as a meeting point for African civil society groups.

The political climate in the DRC is currently tense with the nearing end of current President Joseph Kabila’s tenure. Many suspect that supporters of Kabila are devising tactics to keep him in office.

Included among the arrests was a member of Balai Citoyen: a grassroots political organization from Burkina Faso that was influential in protests that ousted former president Blaire Compaoré.

This is not the first time that an American diplomat has been endangered or harmed while mediating overseas. A grand total of eight American ambassadors have been killed in the line of duty.

The latest death was Chris Stevens in Libya. Stevens met his tragic demise on the 11th anniversary of September 11, when Islamic militants waged an attack upon the diplomatic compound in which he was staying.

With the recent memory of Stevens’s death in mind, Surr’s release comes as a tremendous relief to the general public. Americans rightfully tend to get up in arms whenever another American is captured or detained overseas.

The problem is that the media hand picks which cases of detainment to focus on. This means that most people who are captured or detained are never given that level of attention.

What set Surr and Stevens apart were their statuses as political celebrities. A dead civilian is a tragedy; a dead politician, often, is a scandal.

Throughout all of this, Africa does not become any less politically unstable or corrupt. Ironically, given its name, Democratic Republic of the Congo is not a safe haven from the well-publicized threats of disease, starvation, war or terrorism.

Indeed, given that its final reinstatement as a “democratic” nation occurred when former President Laurent Kabila dictatorially named himself the new leader, it was easy to see that the DRC would likely fail to live up to its name.

If the Congo’s score of 0.338 on the Human Development Index is accurate, then the nation’s people have a great deal of work cut out for them. Developed by economists Amartya Sen and Mahbub ul Haq in 1990, the index measures variables such as life expectancy at birth, mean and expected years of schooling and GNI per capita. When combined, the three measurements produce a single score between 0.2 and 1.0.

With a score that low, it is imperative that the Congolese have help to improve their national security, since secure nations have fewer incidences of major miscommunications that lead to unwarranted arrests such as Surr’s. By helping, first-world countries can make the world a safer place.

Leah Zazofsky

Sources: Associated Press, Greenwood Publishing Group, The Guardian, United Nations Development Programme, United States Senate
Photo: USAID

Girl Rising
Breaking the cycle of poverty and creating the cycle of education, empowerment and uplifting out of poverty. “Girl Rising,” a feature-length documentary centers on these ideas, shining light on the importance of educating our girls around the world. Millions of girls across the globe are seen useful for one thing: reproduction. Girl Rising focuses on educating girls enabling them to use their voice that they were given to stand up for their rights, wait till they are stable to have their own family and educate their children, families and communities. By breaking those obstacles that girls face from the day that they are born.

Girl Rising focuses on removing those barriers that limit these girls such as young marriage, gender-based discrimination and violence, domestic slavery and sex trafficking. Removing these barriers will not only lead to stronger, healthier, safer and more vibrant girls, it will improve the outlook of the world as a whole.

Girl Rising, created in 2013, has since turned into a global movement and has been viewed by millions across the world in campuses, neighborhoods, communities and cities across the world in order to raise awareness and funds. You can bring Girl Rising to your classroom, campus, organization and community. There are so many opportunities to raise awareness. Join the community, host a screening, facilitate a fundraiser and invest in girls education. The options are limitless.

Girl Rising is also in partnership with USAID working on the Girl Rising’s Empowering Next Generations to Advance Girls Education (ENGAGE) project. Launched in 2014, the project focuses on teaching communities to value girls by understanding their worth and the benefits of educating and empowering them. Currently, the project works in India, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, with hopes to grow and give all girls a chance to go and stay in school, and become healthy, functioning members of their communities and society as a whole.

The Girl Rising ENGAGE campaign works to create a better world for girls by:

  • Increasing public awareness of and attention to the importance of a good education and the barriers girls often face to accessing it.
  • Mobilizing men, women and youth to take concrete actions that create paths for girls to attain quality primary and secondary education.
  • Engaging corporate and government leaders to build an enabling environment for girls, promoting policy change for, and financial investment in their education.
  • Bringing the message to the source in the classroom.

Girl Rising has a teaching opportunity for educators to utilize the free Girl Rising Educator’s Edition and the Girl Rising curriculum. This can lead to engaging students in meaningful discussion and lessons that encourage them to think critically about the importance of educating girls.

The Girl Rising movement is on its way of establishing a name from its beginnings as a documentary to a force that is changing the educational climate for girls across the world. CNN International was so enraptured by the Girl Rising phenomena that the network continues to celebrate the world of girls in the series new “A Girl’s World.” The series chronicles the story of seven girls in seven different countries all writing unique stories of their own. Following their ambitions, dreams, adversaries, the seven girls may all be different but they can come together with their newfound voices. “Girl Rising” and “A Girl’s World” are reminders to value and honor your grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters and the girls of the world.

To become an advocate and learn more about Girl Rising follow here.

Charisma Thapa

Sources: Girl Rising 1, Girl Rising 2, CNN
Photo: Scarlet Called Scout

rwandan
On April 16, Elie Semajeri, the 50-year-old village chief of the Majengo neighborhood in Gisenyi sector, was arrested by the Rwandan military. Uniformed soldiers approached his house late at night and forced him into a white pickup truck. He cried out, resisting arrest. Neighbors awoke, throwing stones at surrounding houses to alert them that their chief was being taken against his will.

This scene has become increasingly commonplace in Rwanda recently. Rwandans are disappearing.

In one district alone — the Rubavu district — 14 missing persons cases have been reported since March. Most suspect the Rwandan government, which has grown increasingly intent on arresting anyone associated with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (DFLR.) This militant group, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC,) consists mostly of former participants of the 1994 genocide.

Semajeri, like others who live in the Rubavu district, would often visit relatives who live just across the western border in DRC. Such behavior attracted the attention of Rwandan authorities who, under President Paul Kagame, see the capture of DFLR members as a national priority.

But besides the obvious concerns of holding citizens in secret custody — as stated by the State Department earlier this month — the Rwandan government does not yet have a well-defined law forbidding such activity.

The Rwandan Penal Code prohibits public servants and civilians alike from kidnapping or unlawfully detaining anyone. It even prohibits one from keeping silent upon witnessing such a violation of another’s liberty. But the vague nature of the language fails to clearly outlaw enforced disappearances.

The ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF,) has responded coldly. Official statements deem the accusations absurd, and President Kagame boldly maintained that arrests of suspects must continue for the sake of Rwanda’s stability.

On May 8, Human Rights Watch met with officials of Rubavu District to discuss the recent disappearances. Karangwa Murenge, the district’s police commander, agreed that the reported number of disappearances was increasing but denied government involvement. He suggested that missing people might have simply traveled to neighboring DRC without telling anyone.

In any case, Major General Mubarak Muganga told Ruvabu District residents in a public meeting that the RDF was detaining people who had voluntarily confessed to collaboration with the DFLR.

Brigadier General Joseph Nzabamwita, spokesman for the RDF, told Human Rights Watch that the Rwandan government does not engage in unlawful detention. He denies the link between the recent disappearance of Rwandans and General Muganga’s detainment of alleged DFLR collaborators.

And what of Semajeri, the village chief who vanished in pacified cries of help?

Family members were told he was being questioned and would be released soon after. After a day passed, relatives checked police stations only to be told he wasn’t there. Nearly a month later in early May — out of desperation — they wrote letters to their local government describing what happened to their missing patriarch and village leader.

They have yet to receive a response.

Shehrose Mian

Sources: HRW, NY Times
Photo: Retroland