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August 19th, 2008
04:33 PM ET

Stats show perils of living in east Congo

Watch Anderson's 2006 report from the Democratic Republic of Congo on the sexual abuse of women and young children.
Watch Anderson's 2006 report from the Democratic Republic of Congo on the sexual abuse of women and young children.

Todd Pitman
Associated Press Writer

Imagine living with a 50 percent chance of being enslaved or threatened with death by an armed group. One-in-three odds of being tortured or wounded. A 12 percent chance of being sexually assaulted multiple times.

In some of the roughest parts of eastern Congo, such a life doesn't take much imagination.

These numbers are real for civilians in the country's three worst war-battered provinces, according to a new report based on rare polling data carried out by an international human rights group and the research centers of two prominent American universities.

Titled "Living With Fear," the report, released Tuesday, offers hard evidence on what many people in Congo already know: two years after the massive Central African nation held its first free elections in half a century, life is as dangerous as ever for many in the east despite the presence of one of the largest U.N. peacekeeping forces in the world.

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Filed under: Global 360°
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Peartree from NC

    Our society today is just screwed up. We can send our troops to go fight a meaningless war, but cant send them to preserve life and stop genocide. The fact of the matter is thats all thats happening. Africa has nonthing to offer the U.S thats why we dont send help. We send humanitarian assitance but thats not enough. Im a veteran of the Iraq war and im degusted bye my government. People can can stop calling ourself the most powerful nation in the world cause we are not, We are just Bullies with alot of NUKES. Take a REAL good look at our country. We are no better than any of the communist couintries out there. AMERICA WAKE UP BEFORE ITS TO LATE.

    August 20, 2008 at 9:51 am |
  2. Mike in NYC

    Annie Kate wrote:

    "Even when a lot of the countries were part of European Empires the conditions were not good."

    Conditions for humans in Africa are the best on Earth. It's the most resource-rich continent. Food, water, minerals - it has it all. It has the potential to be a paradise for human habitation.

    August 20, 2008 at 9:08 am |
  3. Jolene

    It is sad that after years, the situation in east Congo has gotten worse. The "Living with Fear" report and the statistics really paint a picture. I hope the report shows the world the enormity of the problem. What caught me was the stat on who protects them with 44% answering God and 6% answering U.N. peacekeepers. That's very distressing. You don't even have to watch any documentaries, you can see it in the numbers alone.

    Would love to hear from Kabila's government or have a report conducted by an outside group to determine what (other than aid) can be done to end the fighting and create a more stable environment for the people. What's also sad is that the people can't reap any benefits by living in a country rich in diamond, gold, and minerals. This has been going on for too long. Thanks for the link to the report. I found it to be very impactful.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    August 19, 2008 at 11:20 pm |
  4. Cherisa

    I hope, once the election is over, that AC360 will return to covering issues such as those in the Congo. A rerun on another network is not enough.

    Each of us can do something, whether we e-mail elected officials on legislation affecting Africa or donate to an agency in the field.

    August 19, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  5. JoJo

    africa is a lost cause i doubt it ever had any chance to begin with. i dont think helping them is our problem , we have more than enough problems in this country , i have a theory that in 20 or 30 years when aids ,famine,war,and every thing elsehas wrecked its havoc on africa it will be the new frontier for the rich and adventurous who want a big ranch dirt cheap,whats really funny is the way black people act in the u.s. like they got it sooooo bad,please. they should be thanking our forefathers everyday cause if you aint in a white/european country,your in a 3rd world toilet ........just my 2 cents

    August 19, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    Has there ever been a time when all of Africa was peaceful and people could carry on normal lives? I can't remember one. Even as a child I remember reading National Geographic stories about the cultures in Africa and the hardships and war that people were enduring. There have always been droughts and starving children and corrupt government. Even when a lot of the countries were part of European Empires the conditions were not good. It would be nice to see Africa become a safe place for its citizens, a place where there is enough clean water to drink, and food to eat. It would especially be nice if this could occur through other means then sending in troops – troops have not to this point made any lasting constructive changes; something like the Peace Corps might be able to though.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 19, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  7. seah ohio

    Early on in the campaign Obama said he would send troops to the Congo when the time was right.

    Was an odd comment from him, saying we should of never gone into Iraq.

    August 19, 2008 at 9:38 pm |
  8. Mary

    I think that in order for those people to live with respect we have to do more to help their infrastructure. They need to have some hope that things will get better. Work, housing, food, water, the basic needs of all people. We certainly can do more, with out expecting something in return (natural resources, oil), so they can live as people should.

    August 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  9. EJ (USA)

    I'm sure God is proud to have created such a compassionate person like Mike in NYC...

    August 19, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  10. Jan from Wood Dale IL

    Here are the names of a couple of relief organizations helping the victims of violence in the Congo:

    International Rescue Committee
    Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres)
    Women Helping Women

    There are UN forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the violence is so wide spread that they have no real control over the situation.

    Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and others in the Senate have proposed Senate Resolutions to increase US aid for the victims of violence in the Congo. Unfortunately, some of these resolutions never get voted on or enacted.

    August 19, 2008 at 8:13 pm |
  11. Mike in NYC

    To Terry Kappel:

    Try to resist the temptation to make facile comparisons between today's conflicts and past history.

    NATO is a military alliance hostile to Russia. No nation can be expected to sit idly by and allow such a force to extend to its borders. The Russians may present this conflict in other terms, such as protection of “Russian” minorities, but NATO expansion is the fundamental issue.

    The fact is that Georgia is not part of NATO, so there is no legal basis for NATO member states to defend it militarily.

    To other posters re Congo:

    This awful situation is not the world's fault. "We" are not obligated to do something about it. Despite its dubious peacekeeping record, it is not the UN's fault either. These atrocities, and the scale on which they occur, are facts of life in today's Africa.

    August 19, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  12. Lilibeth

    Last Sunday, I saw a replay of Anderson’s 60 Minutes report on the women of Congo. No matter how many times he tells it, my heart breaks into a million pieces. I do what I can to help (donate to several charities) and will continue to do so, but sometimes I feel this is no longer enough. Is the U.N. really doing what it can? Isn’t it time to do something stronger, like a threat of force and remove from power the corrupt government that’s there now? Why isn’t the U.N. more effective? What does it need to be more effective? More money? Better leadership? A complete revamping? If not the U.N., how about heads of state get together and start brainstorming, and actually do something? I know if I were one, I would have initiated this a long time ago. What will it take for the world to act? By not doing anything, we are complicit in the continuation of brutalities happening in the Congo.

    Lilibeth
    Edmonds, Washington

    August 19, 2008 at 6:50 pm |
  13. Maritza

    A recent broadcast on 60 minutes Anderson reported on the women that are brutally raped , thie nightmare continues, and these women still find a reason to smile, they manage to deal with the unforgetable pain and still try to find hope , I hope this broadcast reaches many , I hope that a miracle will be cast upon the many innocent victims who's crimes are never brought to justice, thanks Anderson for reporting on this very tragic problem in the Congo.

    Maritza

    August 19, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  14. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    I don't get how we as humans can allow fellow humans to endure the atrocities these people in the Congo endure. Then again, how do we allow atrocities to occur anywhere while we sit and do nothing? I used to say it's their problem. Then one day I realized it's everyone's problem, we can make a difference even if it's providing funds for relief agencies or saying a prayer, and that ignoring this or saying it doesn't matter only makes me callous and cold. It's not strictly the governments of the world who can help. We all can do our part. It seems like there were agencies listed one time after one of Anderson's reports where everyday people could give and be assured their money was going to assist those in need. Maybe it's time to put those up again.

    August 19, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  15. Sharon from Indy

    Todd:
    It is easy to turn away from problems thousands of miles away. But will America really turn a blind eye to what is happening in the Congo?

    To many, Africa has always "been a problem" because of poverty, agricultural shortcomings and tribal dictators. But now Africa has oil, that sweet fluid that is emptied into gas tanks. As the bureaucracy of the Middle East becomes more complicated, I believe American business dynasties will eventually turn to Africa for the answer. This is when Americans will look again at the needs of Africa. It has been centuries of "interests" that has plunge-ned us into wars and humanitarian funding, not guilt or societal conscience.

    Yes, advocacy groups from churches, human rights organizations, etc. are screaming for America to do something. Yes, George Bush has sent billions for HIV/AIDS...wonderful! But are we going to ignore the millions of human beings living in tents, fearful of rape, dying of starvation, drafted to kill, or dying from malaria?

    Just like it is easy to watch the Iraq War on the TV, it is just as easy to watch millions of dying.? Or is it? Are we so numb to the global world or are we just too arrogant to care?

    August 19, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  16. Cindy

    I saw Anderson's 60 Minutes piece when it first aired. It was a great report. Telling of others plights and trying to help them is something that Cooper does so very well.

    It is a shame that in this day and age that people still have to endure such atrocities and nothing is being done to stop it. You would think that with such a huge UN presence there in the Congo that it would curb these things from happening. But the UN is as useless as the government there it seems. They sit by and do nothing as these horrible things continue to occur. When will the rest of the world say enough is enough?

    Cindy...Ga.

    August 19, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  17. Terry Kappel

    Why is it that the Administration took the military option off the table (with regard to the Russian invasion of Georgia)?
    Obviously it would be a difficult task for America or it's NATO allies to respond militarily to the invasion of Georgia by Russia, but do we need to unequivocally state that there are no circumstances under which we would use military force to defend the soverenty of another country, even if it is far away?
    And, why are so many willing to ceed to Russia swaths of territory inside a soveriegn country in the futile hopes of appeasing a military aggressor by rewarding unacceptable behavior?
    People seem all too willing to give up someone else's liberty in order to ensure their own safety. But, there is no reason to expect that if Russia succeeds at taking peices of Georgia, or even the whole country that they would stop at that. In fact it would likely enbolden them to believe that they can push farther because they will see our non-opposition to their transgressions as weakness.
    Doesn't anyone remember how Hitler got started? Hitler took away the rights of his own people, grabbed extra ordinary powers, then proceeded to militarize the rhineland, grab Austria, and then bluff the western powers into allowing him to annex most of Czechoslovakia.
    At each turn the bully looks to test the limits of weaker foes, and unless he is confronted - he only grows stronger, and his transgressions grow bolder - until he is confronted. Have we learned nothing from history?!
    That's the problem with a nation of citizens which does not appreciate the importance of history and the lessons to be learned from it. We may very well be doomed to repeat, the history which we might have easily learned from. And, by ignoring evil accross the seas, we may be allowing it to grow into to an even more potent monster.

    August 19, 2008 at 4:44 pm |