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November 9, 2008

How the World Must Act in Congo — Now

The genocide in Rwanda in 1994 is often seen as a cautionary tale, an example of how the world failed to react at a time when it could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Chastened by that experience, every time a humanitarian crisis erupts in Africa, a kind of collective cry goes up urging action — any action — to prevent a comparable atrocity from happening again. The current crisis and the fighting around it are apt to push more buttons than most. First, it is evocative. The Congolese town of Goma that is the center of the crisis was also where the world first had its clearest glimpse of the Rwanda atrocities. Secondly, a huge amount of the world's most important minerals, including one involved in the making of cellphones, emanate from the region and specifically from areas controlled by the combatants. (See pictures of the humanitarian disaster in Congo.) continue reading

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