The UN estimates that 3 million to 4 million Congolese have been killed, compared with the estimated 200,000 civilian deaths in Darfur. A peace deal agreed in December 2002 has never been adhered to, and atrocities have been particularly well documented in the province of Kivu - carried out by paramilitary organisations with strong governmental links. In the last month alone, thousands of civilians have been killed in heavy fighting between rebel and government forces vying for control of an area north of Goma, and the UN reckons that another 50,000 have been made refugees.And the key difference?
How curious, then, that so much more attention has been focused on Darfur than Congo. There are no pressure groups of any note that draw attention to the Congolese situation. In the media there is barely a word.
lies in the racial and ethnic composition of the perceived victims and perpetrators. In Congo, black Africans are killing other black Africans in a way that is difficult for outsiders to identify with. The turmoil there can in that sense be regarded as a narrowly African affair.But that's terrible. How could the media be so racist and in whose interest is this racist perception?
In Darfur the fighting is portrayed as a war between black Africans, rightly or wrongly regarded as the victims, and "Arabs", widely regarded as the perpetrators of the killings. In practice these neat racial categories are highly indistinct, but it is through such a prism that the conflict is generally viewed.
In the United States and elsewhere those who have spearheaded the case for foreign intervention in Darfur are largely the people who regard the Arabs as the root cause of the Israel-Palestine dispute.Ah! Now I get it.
Roger Howard is the author of What's Wrong with Liberal Interventionism.