No More Genocide !



Ituri, the northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been the theatre of deadly conflict akin to genocide which occurs between two rival ethnic groups, Lendu and Hema. As the battle raged between the

two rivals, several civilians had been killed or wounded in the crossfire, villagers were massacred, more than 250 000 people had been displaced. At least 50.000 people had been butchered when the killing spiralled out of control, most of the killing occured in the capital of the province, Bunia.

Although the Ituri war is not likely to develop into large-scale genocide as was the case in Rwanda, it does feature scores of village genocides which may present as an example for other hatred-ridden ethnic groups in other parts of Africa. The main concerns of AAPSO lie on this macabre perspective and the presence of UN peacekeeping forces, Monuc I and Monuc II (the latter to be deployed by September 1st), being reinforced in-between by rapid-reaction force ( Operation Artemis) sent by the European Union, has raised hope for a halt to mass slaughters. The total force is expected to reach 10,800 by the end of August. Due to the gravity of the situation in this part of African sub-region and owing to the seemingly inability of the Africans to solve themselves their own problems in some occasions, the deployment of foreign troops under the umbrella of the UN to make peace in such parts of the continent is welcomed by AAPSO.

The event occuring in the province of Ituri has been developing amid improvement in the political situation in the DRC marked by the implementation of agreement between the government and the other factions once backed by Rwanda and Uganda. The presence of troops from these two foreign African countries is still fresh in the memory and many observers still express suspicious feeling about their stand-off influence regarding the situation in the DRC, leaving the possibility of their comeback in case they consider their security in danger.

As modest as it is, the UN intervention represents the first ripple of serious attention to Congo's war which is believed to claim between 3.1 and 4.7 milliion lives.

Despite the presence of Monuc I and the Artemis troops in Ituri, the fighting between the Lendu and Hema militias still continues until now which adds more weight on our growing concerns.

To avoid the repetition of Ituri's slaughter to other parts of Africa and prevent what might be a Rwandan-like war of extermination, let alone the inter-religious, inter-tribal and xenophobic conflicts often occuring in some areas of the African continent, AAPSO calls on African governments, civil society, NGOs and democratic forces to uphold necessary vigilance and take appropriate measures in securing the fragile semblance of peace. The Ituri's case is no mere an ethnic conflict with mutual hatred. It is home to one of the world's biggest gold deposits (along the coltan ones), among the overwhelmingly coveted phenomenal riches of the Congolese mineral wealth.

AAPSO declares that a genuine and effective African solidarity is needed in order for Africa to advance steadily into peace, stability and progress.

AAPSO urges the African Union to get more involved in the effort to address conflicts like that happening in the Ituri province or elsewhere in the continent. The deeply rooted internecine hatred between the Lendu and Hema should be tempered or, at best be put to disappear.

AAPSO believes that Africans and the UN are able to promote a sustainable peace in Ituri as elsewhere to prevent another genocide.