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The world knows about the Holocaust. People may think it unprecedented and may believe that mass murder of that magnitude has not occurred since. They would be wrong.

Atrocity is happening all over the world today. The situation in Central Africa is ongoing and has resulted in millions of lives lost, but no one is talking about it. We would rather tally the times Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan go to jail and bury our faces in Facebook. We watch American Idol with reverence, and truly idolize our celebrities.  I am not saying that these pastimes have no place, they certainly do, but they must not define our generation. They can’t continue to garner more attention than humanity itself.  This world is vast, but intricately connected. A life lost on the other side of the world is still a life lost, and the number of those lost is astonishing in its climbing rate.

Let us, for the sake of argument, focus our attention on Central Africa, while keeping in mind we could easily be discussing human rights violations in Asia, South America, Eastern Europe, and yes, right in our own neighborhoods, wherever they may be.

According to Human Rights Watch, over five million people have died in the last ten years in Congo. There, many different rebel armies from surrounding nations have gone to continue their fights. Namely, the Rwandan genocide that resulted in fighting continuing in Congo.  There, women are brutally raped and disfigured, children are abducted and forced to fight as child soldiers and innocent communities are destroyed.

In recent times, violence by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has escalated.  The LRA began in the 1980s, with a civil war in Uganda.  According to Wikipedia:

The group is based in apocalyptic Christianity, but also is influenced by a blend of Mysticism and traditional religion, and claims to be establishing a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments and Acholi tradition.

The LRA is accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, sexual enslavement of women and children, and forcing children to participate in hostilities. The LRA operates mainly in northern Uganda, but also in parts of Sudan, Central African Republic and DR Congo. The LRA is currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by the United States.

It is estimated that over 30,000 children have been abducted and forced to fight in Uganda by the LRA, and over one million people have been displaced into camps due to the war, according to the non-profit organization, Invisible Children.  The organization began to raise awareness of the situation there when three young Americans traveled to Africa in 2003 and made a documentary about children commuting daily to local shelters to protect themselves from being abducted.  What was shocking to the young Americans was the lack of attention to the situation. A lack that, though it has been seven years and things have improved in Uganda, is still affecting the education and economic systems in northern Uganda.

Also alarming, the LRA has spilled over like blood into surrounding countries, such as Congo and the Central African Republic. Some of the Ugandans affected by this war have become my friends, and others I may not ever meet, but still I am committed to working toward peace. We all should be committed, for those in conflict and for the world as a whole.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and I firmly believe that. We can’t accept the excuse of ignorance like many may have done while the Holocaust was going on.  Today, we are a world that is more than equipped to use our technologies to sound the alarm of any and all atrocities.

Let us please not forget that.

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About LindsayWhelchel

  • Lindsay,

    Great article that makes an important point.

    Some good news: Chilean Miners have just been rescued.

  • NOt only oil, but significant deposits of ores and other natural geological resources.

    Many African nations are, unfortunately, caught in a web of dictatorship and quasi- corporate colonialism.

  • Baronius

    Billions, Alan.

  • There’s no oil in Africa.

    Unfortunately, Arch Conservative (#1), you’re wrong as usual on the facts. Since 1990, the U.S. government and the worldwide petroleum industry have invested more than a billion dollars a year on the continent. According to John Ghazvinian’s book Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil (2007), “China and India are also looking to African crude oil, which is ‘lighter’ and ‘sweeter’ than its Arab counterpart and thus requires less costly refining, to fuel their booming economies.”

    Historically, Nigeria and Angola have been Africa’s major oil producers. But other countries also boast active oil production, including Gabon, Republic of Congo, and Cameroon.

    But then, I suppose you also believe there’s no oil in Saudi Arabia. Right?

  • Ms. Whelchel, I take it you are another of the many OU students who’ve lately been inundating Blogcritics with articles. So I’ll put this more kindly than the always gruff and consistently uninformed Arch Conservative (comment #1, to which I shall respond in a separate reply).

    I applaud your youthful idealism. However, when you write that “no one is talking about” the situation in Central Africa, you diminish your credibility by overstating the case.

    And how do you propose that we respond to the dire conditions there? “We can’t accept the excuse of ignorance,” you write, “like many may have done while the Holocaust was going on. Today, we are a world that is more than equipped to use our technologies to sound the alarm of any and all atrocities.”

    But Ms. Whelchel, sounding the alarm is not enough. The starving children of Africa cannot eat blogs. What should Americans do? You fail to tell us.

    Maybe that’s because we are helpless to do anything. With our economy in a shambles, as we wind down a war in Iraq that cost us $737 trillion and ramp up a war in Afghanistan that has so far cost $353 trillion (see here), not to mention 4,425 U.S. military fatalities in Iraq and 1,322 in Afghanistan (see here), and with our domestic politics sharply and evenly divided along ideological lines, Americans are in no position to ride to the rescue in Central Africa, which has truly massive problems.

    Nor can the UN, which is underfunded and overstretched. For their part, NGOs are notoriously wasteful and ineffective. Only Africans can fix the mess they’re in, and they show little interest in doing so.

    I therefore repeat, what would you have us do?

  • Arch Conservative

    Unfortunately Lindsay there’s no oil in Africa. If there were then maybe we’d see some of the stuff that’s going on there in the mainstream American news.

    It’s not as if no one in the Western world cares though. There’s Sally Struthers and that group that makes the annoying feed the children commercials. We give billions to combat the AIDS epidemic.

    I think it’s a matter of practicality though. Tell me Lindsay, how does a father of three in America whose just lost his job and is worried about making the mortgage payment and buying heating oil to keep his family warm this winter find time to worry about the tutsis and hutus in Africa killing one another?