Central Africa: a spectre of widening war emerges

An embarrassment of mineral riches in central Africa is fueling conflict in the region.

Orphans in Central African Republic.

"There are consistent indications that evoke the specter of a war which still has hidden reasons". This was the warning given by the Catholic bishops of Bukavu, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in a message sent to the Congolese political authorities, according to the FIDES news service.

The bishops say it is necessary to prevent a global war on the horizon. The document lists the tensions and violence that may escalate into a larger war: the concurrent upsurge in different areas of vicious crimes attributed to gangs and armed individuals; wholesale massacres, the burning of homes and displaced mass populations; the awakening of the Mai-Mai movement of local self-defense militias, for reasons not well known; the mutinies of soldiers in Uvira; deserters in Bukavu and the defection of troops in the territory of Beni. Also, a May 14 attack in Bunyakiri (south Kivu) killed dozens of Congolese civilians and wounded several Pakistani "Blue Helmets" of the UN peacekeeping forces in Congo.

"The wars in the DRC have been and are often internal and external wars of predation, as amply highlighted by different study groups" conclude the bishops of Kivu, whose territory is rich in agricultural resources, forestry and above all mining, which are the real stakes of over 20 years of war.

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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