Our shameful footnote to the Congo horror story

THE ongoing tragedy being enacted in the Congo has been described by the UN as a "slow motion holocaust".

And with good reason. Five million people - yes, five million - have lost their lives since 1998 as armies from neighbouring countries battle for the rich pickings of diamonds and cotton from the Congo's fertile fields.

As is increasingly the case with modern conflict, citizens bore the brunt of the violence and, according to a recent report, many thousands of women and girls, some as young as five, were raped or kept as sex slaves by soldiers from more than 20 armed militias and the armies of the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Even though the war is now officially over, its victims continue to suffer. The report, written by Amnesty International, says that more than 40,000 of these rape victims are in desperate need of medical treatment and are facing an HIV epidemic.

It is bad enough that the international community did little or nothing to bring an end to this bloodbath when it was happening, but to leave the innocent victims to suffer adds insult to injury.

The Irish Government must shoulder its share of the shame for this disgraceful situation as it gives millions in aid money each year to the government of Uganda, one of the chief participants in this dirty war.

There is nothing to suggest that Irish aid money has been used directly to further the illegal exploits of Ugandan forces in DRC, but there will always be the suspicion that the millions of euro a year which Uganda received from Ireland made it easier for them to continue their human rights abuses and other illegal activities in that most unfortunate of countries.

John O'Shea

GOAL

PO Box 19

Dún Laoghaire

Co Dublin

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