(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) As the media — and the governments central to mainstream narratives — flow in and out of a number of humanitarian-related stories, from Syria to North Korea to Venezuela, one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world right now continues to be ignored.
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According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHR), the number of internally displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has risen to 3.8 million – the highest number of displaced people in Africa.
This has hardly received a headline. The U.N. published the statistic about the DRC on July 7, 2017, but one would be hard-pressed to find a mainstream media outlet that has covered it. The top Google searches bring up Al Jazeera and the Times of India, two non-Western outlets that published their stories on August 27, 2017, and August 29, 2017, respectively — well over a month after the U.N. report was published. At the time, the Washington Post made a passing mention of the statistic in its “World Digest” report for July 12, 2017, but that was essentially the only mainstream coverage this topic received, with few exceptions. Either way, this devastating tragedy has hardly been headline news.
This underreporting is suspicious given the drastic rise in the number of displaced people in the region. According to a U.N. official, this figure of 3.8 million displaced people means the number of those displaced in the DRC has effectively doubled in a mere six month period.
The latest violence is estimated to have killed over 3,000 people whose deaths were instigated over the killing of a tribal chieftain known as the Kamwina Nsapu, who rebelled against the country’s president.
The Times of India also notes that at the same time, 500,000 refugees are arriving in the country amid further fighting in Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.
This conflict, widely regarded to be related to a struggle for control of DRC’s vast mineral supplies (used in our cell phones, for example), has resulted in the deaths of close to 6 million people since 1998. Think of it as the current Syrian conflict death toll occurring every year for almost twenty years straight.
There are few surprises here, however, considering that in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Belgian King Leopold reportedly killed as many as 10 million people in the same region — “one of the greatest acts of mass murder in human history,” as the Guardian put it. Yet no one seems to bat an eye as a similar people continue to suffer and lose their lives.