Victims of war

For many years, although never enough, we have been hearing about war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A war apparently caused by ethnic reasons, when in fact the true reasons are purely economic. DR Congo is one of the richest countries in the world; under its soil it hides many different minerals, from gold to diamonds, cassiterite and coltan, just to mention some. They are mainly concentrated in the Eastern part of the country and this explains why all the different militia are based in that area. Minerals are the main cause of the Congolese war and women and children are its victims. “This is the worst place to be a child”, is what Congolese people say: and it is true. The militia hiding in the forests use them as their main weapon. They kidnap them from schools and from their houses leaving them no other choice than to become soldiers. Six, seven, eight years old soldiers. They are cracking fighters. They have no fear, war is a game. They are pushed to the front line because they are brave, they do not understand yet what death is. Many of them kill, many die. The few that manage to go back to a normal life, thanks to rehabilitation programs recently instituted under pressure of the UN, often fail to reintegrate with the civilians. They are dissociated, what they have experienced has made them callous and coldhearted. Victims of this war are women too: victims of the militias that loot villages, of the governmental soldiers who have no money and are predators themselves. But above all they are victims of brutal rapes daily perpetrated by groups of soldiers from all factions. Often, after committing the violence, the soldiers drag the women with them in the forest. Here the women are abused repeatedly for years, by tens of people. The luckiest ones are left in their houses half dead, rejected by their husbands and by society. Only in South Kivu, from January to September 2008, the UN agency Unfpa censed 11.600 women who required treatment following violence: 95% of them had been raped by militias. It is estimated that since 1998 victims of rape in North Kivu have been more than 30.000, but those who don’t’ speak out of shame are many more. And the majority of them have contracted Hiv.