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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 9-Dec-2017
9-Dec-17 World View -- United Nations stunned as peacekeepers are massacred in DR Congo

Web Log - December, 2017

9-Dec-17 World View -- United Nations stunned as peacekeepers are massacred in DR Congo

Violence continues to spread in countries across Africa

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

United Nations stunned as peacekeepers are massacred in DR Congo

Graph showing that the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II (IDMC)
Graph showing that the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II (IDMC)

The worst attack on United Nations peacekeepers in recent history killed 15 people and wounded 54 on Thursday evening in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Kivu state, near the border with Rwanda and Uganda.

UN secretary-general António Guterres made a standard statement expressing outrage:

"These deliberate attacks against UN peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime. I condemn this attack unequivocally. There must be no impunity for such assaults, here or anywhere else. ...

These brave women and men are putting their lives on the line every day across the world to serve peace and to protect civilians."

Officials in Tanzania expressed shock as well, since 14 of the deaths were of peacekeepers from Tanzania.

There are 15 UN peacekeeping missions, and the largest of them, with 15,000 personnel, is the DRC mission Monusco (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo), with 1,000 troops from Tanzania.

It's estimated that there are some 120 armed groups in eastern DRC, described as mostly ragtag groups of 60-70 people each.

In this case the suspected attackers are the Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF), a group of Islamists formed in the late 1990s in western Uganda to fight the government of Uganda. However, a number of analysts say other militia and elements of Congo’s own army have also been involved.

DRC's president Joseph Kabila is following the standard pattern of African nation leaders of refusing to step down, benefiting from massive corruption, and using massive violence against the opposition to stay in power.

Kabila has stated that he does not want any UN forces in his country, and so it's entirely plausible, though unproven, that Kabila ordered his army to cooperate with the ADF in Thursday's massacre of the UN peacekeepers.

Kabila's bloodiest violence is in the opposition stronghold, the central province of Kasai, where more than 3,000 people have been killed in escalating violence blamed on a government-sponsored militia. The UN has identified more than 80 mass graves and said it had found toddlers with limbs chopped off and pregnant women with their bellies sliced open, their unborn babies mutilated.

The violence has resulted in 3.9 million people forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Zambia, Angola and other neighboring countries as refugees, creating a humanitarian disaster in those countries, and threatening to destabilize the entire region. United Nations and Reuters and Global Security and MONUSCO

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Violence continues to spread in countries across Africa

The violence in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the worst of any country in the world, but similar violence occurs in many African countries, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC).

The IDMC report measures the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in each country. These are people who are forced to flee from their homes either because of violence or because of a natural disaster (usually meaning a drought). In this article, we're focusing on people fleeing violence.

The countries in Africa with the most IDPs are Sudan (3.3m), DRC (2.2m), Nigeria (2.0m), South Sudan (1.9m), and Somalia (1.1m). People who are forced to flee violence often experience further violence again in their place of displacement, including murder and rape. People in displacement camps are vulnerable to human trafficking and slavery.

DRC is the worst affected in the last year. In just January through June of this year, there were 997,000 more displacements in DRC, more than the 922,000 that were displaced in the entire year 2016.

Africa is disproportionately affected by conflict. Africa has 16% of the world's population, but over 33% of the world's conflicts. As the graph at the beginning of this article shows, the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II.

However, the IDMC found an apparent contradiction that they have to explain: Although the number of armed conflicts has been rising, the intensity of these conflicts has been falling, and yet the number of IDPs has been rising. They explain this as follows:

"Why then the consistently high rates of conflict displacement seen in our figures? Other forms of violence are on the rise, in some instances involving higher death tolls. ACLED, which monitors armed conflict and political violence, indicates that riots, protests and bombings are increasing in Africa.

Importantly, violence against civilians is on the rise. Forty-two per cent of incidents of political violence targeted civilians in 2014, and 45 per cent in 2016."

According to the report, there were 2.7 million people newly displaced people in Africa between January and June of this year, the equivalent of 15,000 people forced from their homes every day. 75% of of new displacement is attributed to conflict and violence. Internal displacement monitoring center (IDMC) and Institute for Security Studies and EyeWitnessNews (South Africa)

Generational analysis of the rise in armed conflicts in Africa

The DRC alone is being described as a "mega-crisis" because of the huge numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs), but it's far from unique, as illustrated by the numbers above. Outside of Africa, Syria also has millions of IDPs.

I've written articles about numerous countries that are currently in generational Awakening or Unraveling eras, with leaders that refuse to step down and are using violence and atrocities against civilians to stay in power. These include Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hun Sen in Cambodia.

There's a reason why so many African countries are in generational Awakening eras. The Awakening era is one generation past the end of the preceding generational crisis war, and for most countries of the world, the last crisis war was World War II, so the generational Awakening era occurred in the 1960s and 1970s.

However, African countries have been on a different timeline. Most African countries were largely unaffected by World War II, but had generational crisis wars in the 1960s-80s. These wars were usually wars of "liberation" from colonial powers.

The graph at the beginning of this article shows that the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II. In many cases, the colonial powers drafted men from their African countries to fight in WW II, but the countries themselves were not always involved. After WW II ended, the number of demands for liberation from colonial powers led to liberation wars, which explains the sharp increase in armed conflicts in the next three decades.

However, the armed conflicts that lead to independence for these African nations did not resolve the ethnic and tribal differences occurring within the nations. In country after country, a leader from one tribe or another took control of the country, became right through corruption, often channeling international aid into their own bank accounts or into weapons to be used against political enemies, and continued using violence for decades to stay in power.

So the "apparent contradiction" that the IDMC found as described earlier in this article, is explained by the fact that the tribal, ethnic and anti-colonial wars have been ending, but the violence has been replaced by leaders staying in power by using genocide, murders, rapes, torture, jailings, and massacres.

One thing that's pretty clear is that there's no end in sight for this kind of violence. To the contrary, new post-war generations of young men and women are coming of age, and these leaders who are doing everything they to stay in power are going to have to commit more murders, rapes, torture and jailings to keep these new generations under control.

This leads to a grim choice for the United Nations and its peacekeeping forces. These peacekeeping forces have been failing to accomplish anything of value, and they will fail even more in the future. These forces are hugely expensive, and really accomplish little or nothing. On the other hand, nobody wants to leave Africa in distress without doing everything possible to help, even if the help is futile. This is one of those problems that have no solution. BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Dec-17 World View -- United Nations stunned as peacekeepers are massacred in DR Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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