Share
Congo is sliding back to bloodshed

Congo is sliding back to bloodshed

print-edition icon Print edition | LeadersFeb 15th 2018twitter iconfacebook iconlinkedin iconmail iconprint iconNO CONFLICT since the 1940s has been bloodier, yet few have been more completely ignored. Estimates of the death toll in Congo between 1998 and 2003 range from roughly 1m to more than 5m—no one counted the corpses. Taking the midpoint, the cost…

NO CONFLICT since the 1940s has been bloodier, yet few have been more completely ignored. Estimates of the death toll in Congo between 1998 and 2003 range from roughly 1m to more than 5m—no one counted the corpses. Taking the midpoint, the cost in lives was higher than that in Syria, Iraq, Vietnam or Korea. Yet scarcely any outsider has a clue what the fighting was about or who was killing whom. Which is a tragedy, because the great war at the heart of Africa might be about to start again.

The cause of the carnage
To understand the original war, consider this outrageously oversimplified analogy. Imagine a giant house whose timbers are rotten. That was the Congolese state under Mobutu Sese Seko, the kleptocratic tyrant who ruled from 1965 to 1997. Next, imagine a cannonball that brings the house crashing down. That cannonball was fired from Rwanda, Congo’s tiny, turbulent neighbour. Now imagine that every local gang of armed criminals comes rushing in to steal the family jewels, and the looting turns violent. Finally, imagine that you are a young, unarmed woman who lives alone in the shattered house. It is not a pleasant thought, is it?

Latest stories

  • “Cow vigilantism” in India

  • America’s latest school slaughter

  • The disastrous legacy of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma

  • How to ensure Ryanair foots the bill for flight delays

  • “This Close” is an insightful portrayal of friendship and deafness

  • The governor of Pennsylvania rejects Republicans’ new map

  • See more