Human rights violations in Africa – Congo, Somalia & Zimbabwe

My partner originally posted this on Political-Duo and kindly let me post it here. He has also put up a new post on the executions in Bali.

10 humanitarian agencies including Human Rights Watch and Oxfam have urged the UN to send more troops to protect civilians in East Congo. According to an AP report, Doctors Without Borders, have reported an outbreak of cholera in the refugee camp near the capital of Goma. Shortage of water and proper toilets makes the ‘outbreak “really dangerous” ‘.

The only agency to be working in the that town, Doctors without Borders reported treating 43 patients at the Rutshuru hospital and another 50 at two health centres in the same area on 7 November. The NGO has since then expected more war-related injuries.

Human Rights Watch noted that at least 100 civilians have been killed with more than 200 wounded since fighting between the rebel commander Laurent Nkhunda and Congolese army occurred in August, after the breakdown of ceasefire negotiations that was made in January. At least 150 child soldiers have been recruited since then. The United Nation’s MONUC troops were reported to have failed in protecting civilians who have fled to Goma, North Kivu’s capital. Humanitarian workers have also been targeted. in this conflict Those working in North Kivu have at least been attacked 35 times since August with the Congolese army believed to be responsible for most of them.

Humanitarian agencies are also targeted in Somalia. At least 40 humanitarian and human rights workers have been killed in Somalia this year, according to Amnesty International. According to the report, “Fatal Insecurity, Attacks on aid workers and rights defenders in Somalia’, ‘the identities and affliations of their killers are increasingly unclear’. However, most of those close to those killed have told the NGO that the majority were ‘members of armed opposition groups, including al-Shabab militias, and the various ARS- affiliated militias (often still called Islamic Courts). Clan militias and clan-affiliated criminal gangs committing acts of banditry or extortion are the second largest group of attackers reported, with a small number of remaining attacks reported to have been carried out by TFG militias or Ethiopian troops’ (p. 14).

The reasons for the attacks have been attributed to financial motives (for example, extorting contractors delivering humanitarian aid); Opposition groups suspecting that humanitarian workers acting as spies for the TFG or Ethiopian military; and increasing division between the armed groups leading to more violence (p.16).

In Zimbawe, the power-sharing agreement has not yielded any progress in enforcing human rights. The latest Human Rights Watch report, ‘Our hands are tied; erosion of the rule of law in Zimbawe‘, documented the ruling party, ZANU-PF’s lack of commitment in justice reforms. The police has been told not to investigate any violence carried out by ZANU-PF and its allies. At least 163 politically motivated killings, mostly towards Opposition MDC supporters have been perpetuated since the March elections. No arrests nor prosecutions have been made to date. The police has also continued to harass and detain activists even after the power sharing agreement has been signed.

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8 Responses

  1. Africa, the very name brings nothing but strife to my mind. I hate to beat a dead horse here but there is hardly an issue that arises on that continent that can’t be traced back to out of control birthrates. The rest of these conversations on easing Africa’s misery, much like the global warming issue, are directly rooted in exponential population growth. Just seems completely futile to keep throwing aide at this continent without implementing some sort of birth control measure as well. This story out today is along the same lines. Many hearts in the right place but simply lacking any grounding in reality.

    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,24629329-5018293,00.html

    Much like Adrian says, children being used as a “renewable resource”; simply pathetic if you ask me. I wonder if anybody has any idea how much aide has gone to this continent in the past 50 years and fixed what exactly.

  2. Sparta

    I am busy at the moment, but will try and find the research that we talked about on blogocracy that shows that birth rates are actually inversely proportionate to wealth. That is, if we get the african countries out of poverty and hunger, their birthrates actually fall – which puts less pressure on the the planet.

  3. Joni,

    Thank you much.

  4. For others with an interest in the subject of overpopulation which I feel has direct bearing on this particular subject.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1999/06/99/world_population/380491.stm

  5. “Africa, the very name brings nothing but strife to my mind. I hate to beat a dead horse here but there is hardly an issue that arises on that continent that can’t be traced back to out of control birthrates. ”

    Sparta so you think colonisation by imperialists had nothing to do with it?

    I’m sure Africa was fine until resource hungry Govts got involved and remade the continent in their own interests.

    Besides I think (again) GWB has a lot to answer for because of his ideological opposition to the use of contraceptives, and/or abortion. Threatening to withhold aid from any who promoted these practices was inhumane IMO.

  6. As a displaced African from Zimbabwe I despair of my continent, particularly in view of the results of the SADC meeting in Johannesburg this weekend. Indeed, I feel the colonising countries bear a lot of blame for the current mess the continent is experiencing, but many of the leaders of the respective African countries do not have their people’s best interests at heart. As I write Mugabe is in the process of setting up the torture camps he used so effectively prior to the June sham election.

  7. Tracie,

    “Sparta so you think colonisation by imperialists had nothing to do with it?”

    Of course colonization by imperialist’s nations was responsible for creating divisions but many of those same divisions were in place to begin with long before the Europeans arrived. Tribal warfare over land, people and possessions has always been a way of life for the people of Africa. Much of the conflict we now see is tribal warfare on a more destructive scale. Ultimately Tracie, as Zwsarah says, African leaders have been running things for the past 50 years. I don’t think dwelling on or to keep blaming the events of the past is any way to move forward. Much like minority communities in America can no longer blame race on personal failure due to Obama’s election victory. African’s must at some point accept responsibility for their own actions just as we must. Many continents and countries have undergone far more damage to people and land with full recovery, in less time. The aftermath of WWII left many nations utterly in ashes, most are now thriving. In my humble opinion chalking up the current problems of Africa to colonialism of 100 years ago simply passes blame to some entity; much like blaming poverty on the population boom. Sure poverty is a component but the reluctance of some to point out the obvious for fear of insulting another, strikes me as utter denial. Now if you would like to lament about the arms trade and the affects that has had over the past 50 years, I am all ears. Still, what we have now seems more like old tribal conflicts being waged over ever shrinking resources, land and sustenance. These conflicts will only continue to compound as the populations of Africa continue to swell. Unfortunately, we in the West cannot fix these issues by importing every last human being on to our shores or attempting to feed the 3rd world from afar. Our way of life simply would collapse under the burden as it is already stretched to the limit. Change must come from within these nations and the only way it is going to start is if we begin to face those issues everybody wants to avoid talking about. Bringing up such past issues only begets more division frankly. Again, this is just my very humble opinion.

  8. Mugabe is a past master at playing the blame the colonial masters game and it’s served him well and I’ve no doubt it’s shoring up other regimes. He’s also made sure he can’t get thrown out of office by rigging elections and terrorising voters and anyone who dares stand in opposition and he’s not Robinson Crusoe.
    It’s such a pity that this has happened, but the former colonial powers have to accept some responsibility for laying the foundations for the current mess.
    But as Sparta said, it’s been a long time since they left, so the responsibility lies with the African people to change things. Will it happen? God knows. At the moment I don’t feel very confident.

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