Page 5, 12th September 2003

12th September 2003
Page 5
Page 5, 12th September 2003 — Aid agency hits out at media silence over Congo conflict
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Locations: Lusaka, Kindu, Pretoria, Luanda, Goma

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Aid agency hits out at media silence over Congo conflict

Caritas-Italy reports on developments in country afflicted by worst fighting since Second World War

A CAtuour aid agency has critic-ised world media for "silence" over one of the bloodiest conflicts ever to afflict Africa.

Caritas-Italy hit out at the apparent lack of interest in the five-year war in the Congo that has cost three million lives.

The death toll makes the conflict the bloodiest since the Second World War..

The war has involved Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia, countries which have supported factions fighting for control of the Congo's rich natural resounms which include gold, diamonds, oil and a range of valuable minerals.

After a mission in the Goma and Kindu areas of the eastern Congo, Caritas-Italy issued a statement referring to "five years of 'silent' war", and attempted to draw attention to "the most dramatic conflict of the continent".

"Very little is said about this war," Maurizio Manno, director of Caritas-Italy's African Section, told Vatican Radio. "Only those interested in Africa or in forgotten conflicts are able to find news in specialised agencies."

Mr Marmo said the media have reported on "some massacres and certain relevant episodes, but more in-depth information is lacking, especially an analysis and a denunciation of what is occurring".

But he said that in spite of the situation, "in these weeks a government of transition has been inaugurated which looks like it might be able to bring the conflict to an end".

Recent agreements made in Lusaka, Pretoria and Luanda, as well as the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, have ratified important commitments that led to the formation of the transition government in which all parties in the conflict were represented, as well as the unarmed opposition and civil society.

Caritas has urged international institutions to exert pressure waning parties. It has also pushed for a regional conference involving the countries of the Great Lakes region to fund solutions for a lasting peace.

Situations of uncertainty and conflict between border coun

tries "obviously spread the consequences to the whole region", Mr Marmo said.

"Only if a real attempt is made to bring together the diverse governments and factions to find solutions that can be shared by all can there be a possibility to establish a situation of peace for all the peoples."

Confrontations and massacres still occur in the Ittni district and some in the Kivu area, he said. He added, however, that there was confidence that the violence would soon end, thanks also to the action of the United Nations, which had dispatched British and French troops to one of the the worst affected areas.

The UN mission in the Congo on July 28 received a new one-year mandate from the Security Council and the authority to use force to protect civilians.

Caritas-Italy has worked with local Church groups to carry out emergency and development projects in the Congo.

Editorial Comment: Page 9




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