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Sudan, Congo Conflicts Spotlighted in Saturday Papers

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Sudan, Congo Conflicts Spotlighted in Saturday Papers

Posted by Laura Heaton on December 12, 2009

The conflicts in Sudan and Congo received great exposure today in top U.S. newspapers, hopefully inspiring new audiences to look further into two of the world’s most devastating conflicts.

Don’t miss the excellent front page story, “Violence Grips South Sudan as Vote Nears,” and narrated slideshow by the New York Times’ Jeffrey Gettleman and photographer Jehad Nga, reporting from the scene of a recent bloody attack. Importantly, as Gettleman notes as he narrates the photo collection, “most likely, we’re going to have a new country created in Africa.” It’s a point that often seems to get overlooked among international leaders, despite the major challenges that an independent South would face. With preparations for the landmark 2011 referendum underway, tensions are mounting even within the South, prompting questions about both the South’s internal issues and about clandestine involvement by the government in Khartoum to fan the flames of local tensions. As Gettleman explained in the slideshow:

“It’s at this very interesting point where it could go either way, the South could go back to the cycles of violence that have plagued it in the past, or it could emerge as its own independent strong country where the people could finally have the ability to rule themselves, which is what they’ve been fighting for all these decades."

Today’s Washington Post includes a very moving op-ed about the conflict in eastern Congo and the horror of rape: "The evil in Congo." The author, filmmaker Mary Lou Hartman, effectively traces the connection between sexual violence in Congo and the mineral trade that helps to perpetuate the violence, but Hartman is particularly compelling in her poignant discussion of her own experience as a survivor of rape:

I struggle to understand how the word "rape" can describe what happened to me and be used to describe what is happening to them. My mind skitters in a thousand directions when I try to force myself to think about it. Is it shameful to think that I share something with these women? Is it wrong to think that I don’t?