Cholera breaks out in camp for Congolese fleeing war
KPFA Evening News, 08.04.2012
A cholera outbreak in a makeshift camp for Congolese fleeing the war is an ominous sign of how lethal swelling camps of refugees and internally displaced persons could become.
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Anthony Fest: Turning now to news from Africa, an outbreak of cholera, a contagious disease caused by lack of sanitation facilities, has claimed at least nine lives in an eastern Congo refugee camp. The first case appeared three days ago among thousands of people in a makeshift camp there. Patrick Wieland, from Doctors Without Borders, said his organization had set up a clinic tent to treat victims, on the outskirts of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
He said humanitarian agencies were delivering water to the camp but that it was probably being collected with dirty containers. He also said that there were not enough toilets for the people who fled fighting north of Goma last week. KPFA’s Ann Garrison explains some of the background to the humanitarian crisis in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
KPFA Ann Garrison: Stories of hunger and now a cholera outbreak in swelling refugee camps in eastern Congo are in the news now, but they could just as easily be news of much of the last 16 years, since 1996. Since that year the armies of Uganda and Rwanda, have invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo and collaborated with international mining, banking, and national interests, to organize the illegal resource extraction detailed in the past 12 years of UN investigations of the conflict. The Ugandan and Rwandan governments claim they are acting to protect their own borders from hostile militias, or protecting ethnic Tutsis and related populations.
Kambale Musavuli, Student Coordinator and Mining Researcher for Friends of the Congo is among those who have said that the conflict is not about ethnicity, but about displacing Congolese people.
Kambale Musavuli: It has nothing to do with ethnicity. They killed Congolese like they were flies. You see our people. . . you feel a mosquito and you just hit . . . that’s exactly how they kill. It did not mean anything to them, how they were killing the Congolese, as long as they could just wipe them out and get access. I mean. . .the mines exist. People used to live in those areas. Have we ever asked who was living where the mine was before? Did the mines just show up? No there were villages where those mines were.
KPFA: Last week, when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported its new estimate that nearly half a million more Congolese people have been displaced since April, the agency’s spokesperson also reported that this has swollen the population of internally displaced persons, within Congo’s own borders, to 2.1 million. The majority of the millions of Congolese war dead, since 1996, have died of hunger, disease, violence, or other hardship, many of them in refugee or internally displaced persons camps.
For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.