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By danielifearn - Posted on 13 August 2010

Human Toll of Violence in Central African Republic Documented

ScienceDaily (Aug. 4, 2010) — Using a combination of scientific methodology and old-fashioned legwork, human rights researchers based at the University of California, Berkeley, have systematically canvassed nearly 2,000 households in the Central African Republic, carefully documenting the devastating human impact of violence in the country, as well as detailing the opinions of how the country should move forward.

Their findings are detailed in a study to appear in the Aug. 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and in a complementary report to be released the same day by the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center. The researchers present a stark picture of a population traumatized by decades of political strife, military coups and poverty.

The health and mortality data are reported in the JAMA study, while the results of the survey on attitudes about accountability and social reconstruction are laid out in the report, "Building Peace, Seeking Justice."

Both papers stem from the Initiative for Vulnerable Populations, a project based at the Human Rights Center. The initiative was established to document the consequences of international humanitarian law violations and to give a voice to victims of serious crimes. Patrick Vinck and Phuong Pham, who have joint research appointments at the Human Rights Center and at Tulane University's Payson Center for International Development, authored both the JAMA study and the report.

Trained interviewers spent an hour or more each with 1,879 adults, gathering information about their exposure to violence, sense of security, physical well-being and mental health. The numbers are striking:

Mortality rates averaged 4.9 deaths per 1,000 people per month, a level 3 to 5 times higher than the average for sub-Saharan Africa, and among the highest in the region

● 81 percent said they had to flee their homes since 2002
● 67 percent said they had been threatened with death
● 11 percent reported having been abducted
● 16 percent said they had been coerced to work with armed groups and sometimes forced to commit violence

Moreover, a high percentage of survey respondents reported witnessing or experiencing traumatic events, and more than half of the respondents reported symptoms consistent with depression and anxiety.

"What we found in the Central African Republic is one of the worst cases of a humanitarian crisis," said Vinck. "Violence has played a role in destroying the country's infrastructure, but there have also been decades of failure to provide services to the population. Roads are lacking, schools are lacking, health centers are lacking. Even in areas that are not undergoing conflict, the schools are just stables with four poles, a roof and benches made from logs of wood."

The Central African Republic is one of the world's most impoverished countries, ranked 179th out of 182 countries on the United Nation's human development index, which reflects a country's health, education and income status. The republic's current head of state, Francois Bozize, rose to power in 2003 through a military coup.

The researchers behind the Central African Republic survey seek to inform aid programs, security sector reforms to protect civilians, and accountability processes, including proceedings at the International Criminal Court, an independent organization governed by the Rome Statute, a treaty ratified by 111 countries.

One of the most high-profile cases currently before the court is the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former vice president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a second runner-up in Congo's 2006 presidential election. Bemba led fighters from the Movement for the Liberation in 2002 in a failed attempt to put down Bozize's coup in the Central African Republic. Bemba stands accused of murdering and raping civilians in that process.

"Human rights investigations typically include victim narratives, which are extremely important in providing in-depth and compelling stories that illustrate abuses, but the narratives do not necessarily tell you about the scope or intensity of violence within a population," said Pham, an epidemiologist by training who helped apply the rigors of survey methodology to the field of human rights. "What we are bringing to the table are numbers that convey prevalence and incidence. Once you have numbers, you can't deny that there's a problem, and that it's widespread."

"Our work explores systematic and widespread patterns of violence, as well as the views of the population on how to address and resolve such violence," Vinck added. "Unaddressed, these issues could further undermine Central African Republic's development and slow its progress toward social reconstruction."

In the Central African Republic survey, the researchers targeted five administrative regions: two in the north where violence continues, and three in the south, which has not experienced the same level of violence for several years. The five regions, including the capital, Bangui, account for half the country's population. Villages and neighborhoods were randomly selected, and households were chosen with the spin of a pen.

While the mortality rates were higher in the more violence-plagued northern regions, the researchers noted that the death rates were still exceedingly high in the relatively violence-free south.

"That pattern suggests a chronic, endemic situation," said Pham. "And while it is hard to rank poverty and insecurity, it's clear that this country is more neglected than its neighbors when it comes to humanitarian aid."

Yet in the midst of this devastation, the researchers found reason to be hopeful.

In "Building Peace, Seeking Justice," they report that most respondents -- 61 percent -- consider the conflict to be predominantly political. "It's not a conflict among the people," said Vinck. "It's a conflict among political factions fighting for power, but that can be more straightforward to resolve. It's possible for the international community to put enough tension and pressure on the political groups to help to bring more security to the population. Once security is achieved, there is an urgent need to develop services outside of the capital city."

Ninety-four percent of the respondents said they plan to vote in the next presidential elections, and most felt confident that they would be able to vote freely. Presidential elections were scheduled for March 2010, but have been delayed several times.

When asked how those responsible for the violence should be prosecuted, 52 percent said they should be tried in the national courts while 27 percent said they should be tried in the Central African Republic by an international court. Only 14 percent preferred international trials outside of the country.

"These findings are in line with those from other post-conflict regions," said Vinck. "The people want trials to be conducted in their own country in order to witness and participate in the process. To build lasting peace, it is important to take the opinions of the war-affected communities into account. One of our recommendations to the International Criminal Court is to consider holding court proceedings in the Central African Republic, security permitting, because of the strong support for local trials."

The Central African Republic survey is the latest study in the Great Lake region of Africa conducted by Vinck and Pham. They have conducted previous human rights surveys among affected communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, among others.

"The voice of the people is rarely taken into account in decisions and policy making in these regions," said Vinck. The risk of not listening to what the people want is to develop policies that are not appropriate or that do not meet the people's needs, the authors said.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Humanity United helped support this project.

He's someone who's been highly dedicated to investigating, definitely including on the ground, in Africa and reporting on the types of problems in Africa the above article is about, but while it, the above article, doesn't provide the complete picture. Extremely people do. Keith Snow is a real exception and his work is exceptional.

His investigative work is evidently very extensive, for his reporting certainly is and it provides great detail about things that western imperialists certainly don't want to see published in the west, or anywhere else. Readers won't normally find short articles by him, for he is extensive, and provides a lot of detail the west's elites want us or everyone to be unaware of.

"Apocalypse in Central Africa:
The Pentagon, Genocide and the War on Terror"

by keith harmon snow, July 20, 2010

http://www.consciousbeingalliance.com/2010/07/apocalypse-in-central-afri...

His web site is www.allthingspass.com and it should be visited. Anyone capable of providing him donations so that he can continue the great work he's been doing for years should do so. I would, but don't even have $600 a month to live and over half pays for a room. The third world exists in the West, also; thanks to crony and racket capitalism.

Anyone seriously wanting to know what's going on in Africa in terms of human rights, repression, genocide, and so on definitely needs to include readings of at least some of his great work.

Remember the famous and really great Congolese Minister of Parliament Patrice Lumumba and who cold-bloodedly and savagely murdered him; murdering him and then dismembering him, after which they threw his body parts in a barrel to which (if I'm recalling correctly) they set fire? Forces from Canada and Belgium. And they aren't the leading western imperialists, aggressors, pillagers, robbers preying on Africa and its populations.

I'll excerpt a little from the start of Keith Snow's article and what this text says will surely "ring a bell" for most people who read here.

"As a key partner, we are very happy to be working with the Rwandan Defense Force as they seek to improve their capacity to do various peacekeeping missions as well as contribute in other ways to bringing peace to this region. And what we're doing as a part of this visit is demonstrating to our Rwandan friends that we indeed are a committed partner... And by so doing, that stability is felt around the world..."

General William E. Ward, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)

Press conference, Kigali, Rwanda, 22 April 2010

Wherever the US military is we can [know] it's definitely not for good purposes; it's always for hellish or hell's purposes.

Good information. It's so hard to keep up with the rising tide of bs. As you might recognize by the title I supplied for the article, I think the ordinary citizens of the world need to understand that civilians are the real target of warfare. You can call it collateral damage, but the survivors are just as much veterans as anyone who enlisted. Perhaps more so because civilians don't get any training or protective gear. So, it's not just the money that war costs that civilians should pay attention, as huge as that amount is; it's the fact that civilians are 3 times more likely to become casualties that needs to be advertised.

Semper pacificus,

Daniel I. Fearn
Former Sergeant of Marine Infantry

His article is nothing less than great in terms of the comprehensiveness of it. It's not the most extensive piece by him that I've read, but he still provided a good overview that touches on [all] important aspects of the crisis. It includes the extreme human tragedy, the fact that the crimes include the horrific, and the criminals responsible for these crimes, which leads us to the govts of the US, Canada (a Canadian corporation anyway), Belgium, other European countries, Israel, and the US-NATO operation called AFRICOM; as well as the UN. And those criminals do this for the western elites and corporations; and Israeli corporations. This is why the horrifically brutal regimes in Rwanda and Uganda came to be in place. And the western elites will keep those horrifically brutal regimes in place.

But like I previously said, he's been investigating, including on the ground, and reporting on the crisis in the Congo, as well as about countries in that general region for a long time.

What you wrote is fine, but its also essential to point out who the criminals are; especially in the west where the news media produces only propaganda of deception that serves to cover up the crimes of western govts and corporations when the topic comes to the Congo (Zaire) and other African countries. And Keith Snow lets us know that these western news media cover-ups clearly are [deliberate]; not being due to mere ignorance.

They're definitely worse than US citizens who are fooled into enlisting in the military not realizing what they're really enlisting into. The news media know that they LIE about many US foreign policies. Now that's a great [evil]!

"It's so hard to keep up with the rising tide of bs."

You, and we all, can say that again.

"As you might recognize by the title I supplied for the article, I think the ordinary citizens of the world need to understand that civilians are the real target of warfare."

I agree that they're the targets and that it's so western imperialists can rob The People[s] of their natural resources.

Quote: "So, it's not just the money that war costs that civilians should pay attention, as huge as that amount is; it's the fact that civilians are 3 times more likely to become casualties that needs to be advertised."

Of course people shouldn't place money as more important than the lives and sovereignty of anyone. Money should never have even equal value to human life, much less greater value. Life is precious. Money is [not]. It's just a utility for being able to obtain things we need, and we should not want much more than what we only need, if we really care about this world. Material richness is poverty.

Keith Snow's article provides a graphic image, a map showing how much forest the "Hypolite Kanambe (alias Joseph Kabila) regime in Kinshasa," DRC has made basically the possession of "US, European and Canadian companies". It's a HUGE amount of forest and it's for lumber, but certainly not for charitably building houses for the plighted peoples there.

Western govts working for western corporations want all profitable natural resources; every piece and every last drop. Keith Snow names several important minerals the DRC richly has and which the western elites decide is theirs. I learned that from prior articles of his and now see that western corporations have been made basically owners of a huge amount of the DRC's forests.

That's why the Congolese you wrote about suffer.

But AT LEAST 3x more civilian casualties? It's surely MUCH more than that.

Take Iraq, f.e. How many US troops were killed in Iraq and how many died after having been transferred out of Iraq because of having been injured there? Take the total and compare it to the over one million Iraqis who were killed because of this war (of aggression) on their country. And there'll be many more Iraqi casualties from this and the prior US war of aggression on that country. The numbers will keep climbing for a long time to come. The cancer rate in Fallujah, f.e., is very HIGH. There'll be a high death rate there for as long as Iraqi families continue to bear children, but that might not last much longer. Many women have begun to not want to become pregnant because of the consequences of the D.U. the US used there and possibly also because of the white phosphorous the US used there. Too many children are born with extreme, extreme deformities and this has taken a hard toll on women's desire to bear children.

And there will continue to be more Iraqi deaths because safe drinking water services haven't been restored.

What about in the Congo, where the toll from genocide since 1996 is around 10 million. (See Keith Snow's web site about this topic, which he does briefly refer to in terms of the number in the article linked in my above post.) How many of their murderers have been killed due to resistance fighting? Hardly any at all; if there have been any at all. We can probably just say that there haven't been any, for if there have been some, then it's extremely few.

What about in the Vietnam War? 56,000 US soldiers killed in that war. Around 2 million Vietnamese were killed.

We will or probably will always find a lot more than only 3x more civilians or non-combatants killed in the kind of contexts we're talking about.

Mike,

I had trouble finding an usable source for civilian casualties. I couldn't do all the research myself and as you pointed out the figures are always in dispute. I finally decided to go with the figures provided by this site.

http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat2.htm

Semper pac,

Dan

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