We're not all sleeping
OK, blogging is hard and I haven't been able to keep up. But it looks like the press may be turning around on Congo coverage. The election coming up means the Congo will be a big story again, at least for a little while.Check out this week's Time...
Also, much respect to Black River Eagle over at Jewels in the Jungle for this beautiful post
. And thank you for your support, BRE
. We are working hard and should be done by September. Keep updated at gomafilmproject.org
It's been quite a while... I haven't disappeared...
Check out the new Goma Film Project website (sidebar link). You can watch a trailer of our film, LUMO, there.
There will also be a screening on May 1st at the IFC center in New York. Check gomafilmproject.org for details...
Rutshuru shelled; Nkunda on the loose
Back in November, we took a trip to Rutshuru
, a town 45 minutes north of Goma in North Kivu, to observe a disarmament ceremony in which the UN and the 5th integrated FARDC brigade accepted the surrender of about 250 Mayi-Mayi guerillas. This came after the first 'succesful' joint UN and Congolese operation in Virunga National Park, where armed groups had been sheltering in the wilderness and abusing the local population.
Since then, things have been grim: Rutshuru was shelled
and a renegade Tutsi general, Laurent Nkunda, is starting trouble again. It seems that the valorous 5th brigade, whose lack of training was apparent even to this inexperienced observer (though they had a great repertoire of martial hymns), collapsed under the assault of a much-smaller rebel force. It's possible many of them are still loyal to Nkunda. The fighting seems to threaten the Indian base there
-- I can only hope that the friendly officers who showed us around are keeping safe behind the wire.
When we were there I also met an interpid young journalist of Radio La Colombe-- a tiny station and the only one operating for miles. He was wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt and a Rasta hat of black nationalist colors... in the footage it's totally jarring when he pops up in front of the green-fatigued troops. It looks like he may have been in serious trouble
, as well.
I can't really get in touch with anyone. It's a bad feeling...
The Lancet's Congo Mortality Survey
Not a surprise, but from a notable source. The Lancet
, a British medical journal, has a recent article about mortality in the Congo. Available online here
(reg. required):Mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo: a nationwide surveyThe Lancet 2006; 367:44-51Summary
Commencing in 1998, the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been a humanitarian disaster, but has drawn little response from the international community. To document rates and trends in mortality and provide recommendations for political and humanitarian interventions, we did a nationwide mortality survey during April–July, 2004.
19,500 households were visited. The national crude mortality rate of 2·1 deaths per 1000 per month (95% CI 1·6–2·6) was 40% higher than the sub-Saharan regional level (1·5), corresponding to 600,000 more deaths than would be expected during the recall period and 38,000 excess deaths per month. Total death toll from the conflict (1998–2004) was estimated to be 3·9 million
. Mortality rate was higher in unstable eastern provinces,
showing the effect of insecurity. Most deaths were from easily preventable and treatable illnesses rather than violence. Regression analysis suggested that if the effects of violence were removed, all-cause mortality could fall to almost normal rates
The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo remains the world's deadliest humanitarian crisis. To save lives, improvements in security and increased humanitarian assistance are urgently needed.
At home for the holidays and travelling. I'll be blogging again in February and working on the project website... thanks for checking in and please check back.
Pics of the team... bye Goma
BJ on motortaxi
I do rep Providence hard here in Congo
Lynn with Horeb, a director to watch in east Congolese film
Nelson on a shoot
Nelson oblivious to military funeral, at his peril. I just liked the picture.