The news coming out of the Democratic Republic of Congo has always been bleak. Since 1998, an estimated 5.4 million people have died as a result of what has been described as “Africa’s first world war.” More than 1 million more have become refugees. Most of the casualties of the war were not killed by direct conflict but from sicknesses such as malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia. Forty-seven percent of the deaths have been children.
Now the UN is reporting that government soldiers have been roaming the countryside, raping and looting. With 17,000 UN troops already dispatched, and another 3,000 on the way, the conflict seems to be getting out of control. While the media has taken notice of the recent escalation, the world has largely been silent about the atrocities going on in the Congo. It may seem far-removed and daunting, but there are ways you can get involved to bring attention and relief to the situation.
Donate to Oxfam or Medair
One of the primary problems of the conflict is the vast amount of people forced from their homes by the fighting. These people end up in highly-populated refugee camps where disease often runs rampant. Oxfam, a global charity that is highly active in the Democratic Republic of Congo, helps refugees of the war by supplying them with clean water to stop the spread of disease. A donation to Oxfam can help build clean water taps, install clean water tanks or build toilets to make the refugee camps safer and more sanitary.
Visit Oxfam’s website
Medair provides emergency relief such as healthcare, water and sanitation and shelter. Their main objective is to provide life-saving relief at the moment it’s needed most. Their work in the Congo has been active since 1996.
Visit Medair’s website
Write an op-ed piece for your local newspaper
One of the main reasons the atrocities in the Congo are allowed to continue is the silence of the rest of the world. Most people simply aren’t aware of what’s going on. Research the conflict and write an opinion piece, or even a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. In it, outline the history of the conflict, the ways people are suffering and relief organizations locals can support. Awareness is one of the first steps in ending the suffering of the Congolese people.
Mobilize your church
Talk to your church leaders about speaking to the community on the importance of ending the violence in the Congo. Your church can mobilize to raise money for food, water and medical supplies for the Congolese people.
Contact your local news station
Local news stations are always looking for human interest stories and people doing extraordinary things within the community. Call your local news stations and tell them of your advocacy on the part of the Congo. By highlighting your efforts, the local news can motivate more people in the community to become involved and raise social consciousness about the situation.
Sign a petition
Petition Congress to send aid to the struggling people of the Congo. By showing the government that the situation is important to the American people, you can spur action on their part and the part of the international community.
Petition Congress for U.S. Aid for the Congo
The most vital and practical action you can take is prayer. Pray specifically for the Congolese women, who have been brutalized and driven from their homes by the war. Pray also for the international community to mobilize their efforts to bring peace to the Congo. The war in the Congo has become the world’s bloodiest conflict since World War II. For 10 years, violence has continued, often unchecked. The time for people of faith and prayer to stand up and say “no more” is long overdue.