Entries tagged with “Democratic Republic of the Congo”.

1. Iraq Refugees  

Despite continued coverage of the war in Iraq, we never hear about the millions who have fled from their homes.  Most find refuge in another home or poor neighborhoods, not refugee camps.  Most lack access to jobs, health care, and education.  Iraqi’s are the largest and fastest growing displaced population in the world.

  • 4 million Iraqis are refugees or internally displaced persons (UNHCR)
  • 40,000 Iraqis flee their homes every month (UNHCR)
  • 50% of the displaced are children (UNICEF)

2. Sri Lanka War

More people were killed in Sri Lanka in 2006 than in Afghanistan due to the long running war between the government and rebel Tamil Tigers.

  • 600,000 people have suffered homelessness (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
  • 4,500 World Vision sponsored children have been displaced (World Vision)
  • 70,000 have died in the 24-year conflict (The Economist)

3. Burma Trafficking

Each year tens of thousands of impoverished Burmese women  and children are lured by human traffickers promising well-paying jobs in Thailand, China, Bangladesh, Malaysia, or South Korea.  They end up being sold into brothels and forced into slave labor.

  • 20,000 – 30,000 sex workers come from Burma to Thailand (Coalition Against Trafficking in Women)
  • 400 traffickers were identified last year (US Department of State)
  • $220 average annual income in Burma (UNICEF)

4. Somalia Anarchy

In 2007 hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled Mogadishu (the capital), as Ethiopian forces fought to oust Islamic militants.  Fleeing children contracted life-threatening diarrhea and their desperate mothers were often mugged and raped.

  • 400,000 people fled the latest violence in Mogadishu (The Economist)
  • 15% of children affected by recent conflicts are suffering from malnutrition (Food Security Assessment Unit)
  • 70% of children do not attend school (UNICEF)

5. Chechnya Adversity

Two different civil wars have taken a heavy toll on the civilian population in Chechnya’s civilians.  More than 200,000 people lost their lives, and hundreds of thousands have lost everything they had or were forced to flee.  While some of the 220,000 homes that were destroyed are slowly being rebuilt there are still formidable challenges.

  • 70,000 people are still displaced from fighting (Norwegian Refugee Council and Danish Refugee Council)
  • 186 kidnappings occurred last year (Memorial Society)
  • 80% of Chechen families live below the official Russian poverty line (Russian Ministry of Labor and Social Development)

A Free One: Democratic Republic of Congo

Josh Ruxin of the NYTimes says:

Congo’s crisis is of greater human magnitude than Darfur’s, but – unlike Darfur’s – it is clearly solvable. Despite Congo’s mixture of ethnic rivalries, contested natural resources and armed interference by neighbors, why am I so confident? Because there’s a proven track record of international cooperation successfully stopping Congolese bloodletting, as it did in 2002 when a United Nations peacekeeping force helped end the four-year civil war.

  • 50% of school children aren’t in school (World Vision)
  • 1,000 die daily from hunger and disease (World Vision)
  • Congo hosts the world’s largest UN force (NYTimes)

Unless otherwise noted all information comes from the Winter 2007 edition of World Vision’s magazine (pdf). The ENOUGH Project has more information about the Congo Crisis and other known genocides.

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver was AMAZING! It was hard to place this book down and was so compelling that my wife wanted me to start reading it out loud to her halfway through.

Kingsolver brilliantly tells a story about a family from Georgia who moves to the Congo as missionaries before the world turns upside down and Congo becomes independent from their colonial rulers.  This is a work of historical fiction as she weaves the story of the Congo into the lives of 4 women and a unfortunate man. In her own words

This is a work of fiction. Its principal characters are pure inventions with no relations on this earth, as far as I know.  But the Congo in which I placed them is genuine.  The historical figures and events described here are as real as I could render them with the help of recorded history, in all its fascinating variations.

The story is told by Orleanna Price (mother), Rachael, Leah, Adah (twin of Leah) and Ruth May.  Each person narrates for awhile in their own distinct personality and perspective.  They talk about what is happening, their feelings, and their interaction with each other and their father, Nathan.  From the beginning you can begin to see how their fundamental Christian faith is not going to benefit them much as they negotiate a new and vastly different culture.

The story doesn’t end when tragedy strikes, because that is when the story really gets interesting.  I recommend this Oprah’s Book Club book to everyone.  It highlights the problems of Westerners bringing their own ideas and culture into the developing world and being so rigid that no good can come from it. 


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