Source: Jessica Oakley, http://www.ksn.com

Wichitan speaks out about violence in the Congo


    By Jessica Oakley

    WICHITA, Kansas – Medical supplies have finally reached some clinics in the eastern part of the country for the first time since rebels took over the area. Members of a medial group say it's taken 10 days to reach the cut-off towns. While the fighting rages in that country, it barely gets a mention here in the U.S.

    Most Kansans know very little about the bloody rebellion going on in the Congo. But a Wichita man hopes fellow Kansas will care and get involved. He was born and raised in the Congo and still has family living near the war zone.

    The fighting that's forced as many as 250,000 people to flee their homes in Eastern Congo is just the latest round of violence in a civil war that's been raging for years.

    "About five million people from the Congo have been killed so far for the past 12 years," said Congo native Bosco Rutembesa.

    Bosco Rutembesa now lives in Wichita and works as a taxi driver, but he grew up in the Congolese capital of Goma. That is until violence became too much.

    "I got out of the country, and my family went to Rwanda," he said.

    Rwanda is just across the border and has its own history of violence. The genocide of 1994 was portrayed in the movie "Hotel Rwanda." Now, that same ethnic clash has re-ignited in Eastern Congo.

    "The Tutsis are claiming they are simply defending their own interests against a marauding band of Hutus," said WSU history professor John Dreifort.

    It's a feud so bitter that Dreifort says even a ceasefire agreement and 17,000 U.N. peacekeepers have had little effect, threatening the safety of all central Africa, including Bosco's family.

    "Yes, I do worry," he said. "There may be a war between both countries and my family may be affected."

    And he would like them to experience what he has for the last seven years in Kansas.

    "Seeing people from different races, different nationalities living in peace, there is a lot to learn from the U.S," he said.

    But with American troops already in the Middle East, military action in the Congo seems unlikely.

    "If we wanted to get involved in Africa, we would have gotten involved in Darfur a long time ago," he said.

    Still, Bosco hopes the more he talks about the Congo, the more Kansans will pressure the government to intervene and someday help will go beyond just the money and prayers he sends home.

    Because the ethnic battle in the Congo is so volatile, Bosco did not want KSN to reveal whether he is Hutu or Tutsi. He says he tries to stay neutral and above all, wants peace.

    Source: Jessica Oakley, http://www.ksn.com

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