independence in the early 1960's, the countries in the Great Lakes
Region of Africa have been hit by recurring cycles of violence. The
only exception to this has been Tanzania which has had numerous free,
transparent elections and no military involvement in government. Kenya has had many incidences of ethnic violence, the most serious being in
1991-92 in the Rift Valley when the government turned a blind eye to attempts
to evict Kenyans from other areas of the country from that province.
This is the type of violence that tends to escalate unless
preventive measures are taken during the times between episodes of
problems in Burundi began in 1993 when the democratically elected Hutu
president was assassinated by members of the Tutsi military.
A low level civil war continued through 2003 with an estimated 300,000
deaths. While a new democratically elected government has been
installed, one rebel group still continues its violent campaign. After
numerous cycles of violence by the Rwandan Hutu government against the
minority Tutsi in the country, in April 1994, one hundred days of
genocide killed an estimated 850,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu. When those
responsible for the genocide fled to the Congo (then know as Zaire"),
they forced almost two million Hutu to accompany them.
Rwanda invaded the Congo to force the return of the refugees and
the disarming/death of those responsible for the genocide. This began
the first Congo War which quickly led to the overthrow of President
Mobutu, installed in the early sixties by the US Government and other
western powers and noted for stealing most of the money in the country.
When the new Congolese Government turned against their Rwandan allies
1998, Rwanda and Uganda again invaded the Congo (now officially the"
Democratic Republic of the Congo") beginning the second Congo War.
Burundi, Chad, Zimbabwe, and Angola were also involved. While the
various armies have since been withdrawn, proxy rebel groups have been
armed by the various factions. The central Congolese Government one
thousand miles away in Kinshasa has had little authority in the region.
While there is a UN peacekeeping force in the Congo (which is the size
the eastern United States), their number is inadequate to halt the
violence. An estimated 4,000,000 have perish during these conflicts in
eastern Congo, the largest number of deaths in any conflict since World
War II. The conflict continues.
Uganda, the Lord's Resistance Army has been attacking
civilians in the area for twenty years, abducting children to become
child soldier or domestic/sex slaves. Over a million people have been
internally displaced into IDP camps where conditions are atrocious.