Ask many Americans to name the bloodiest war since World War II and chances are that most would not know the answer. If you told them it was in Africa, they might guess Rwanda or the ongoing conflict in Sudan. They'd be wrong.
By far, the deadliest conflict was in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1998 to 2003. Eight African nations participated in the fighting on Congolese soil, many hoping to seize control of its vast mineral wealth. Some 4 million Congolese died during the conflict and nearly another 1 million have died in the lawless aftermath from starvation, conflict and preventable disease. Tens of thousands of children were forced to become soldiers, and as many as two out of three women were victimized by rape and other forms of sexual violence.
This is still happening today.
Perhaps the lack of attention toward these atrocities explains the disconnect in Washington between the compassion felt for the people of eastern Congo and the nominal advancement of specific policies to bring sustainable change to the region. Fortunately, that began to change this summer with passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, which required reporting the origin of potential conflict minerals from Congo. I hope that the incoming Congress will continue the bipartisan movement for sustainable peace and prosperity in that region.
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