Friday, May 15, 2009

Darfur vs. Congo

An excellent comparison article over at FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) over the level of coverage of crisis' in Africa. You've all heard about Darfur - but do you know what's happening in the Congo? The article is here. And an excerpt:

“… The most recent survey [by the International Red Cross] estimated that 45,000 [Congolese] people are dying each month from conflict-related causes (primarily hunger and disease), nearly the same shocking rate as during the war itself. And with the recent flare-up of violence in Congo’s volatile east, things don’t seem to be getting any better. To put the death rate in perspective, at the peak of the Darfur crisis, the conflict-related death rate there was less than a third of the Congo’s, and by 2005 it had dropped to less than 4,000 per month. The United Nations has estimated some 300,000 may have died in total as a result of the years of conflict in Darfur; the same number die from the Congo conflict every six and a half months. And yet, in the New York Times, which covers the Congo more than most U.S. outlets, Darfur has consistently received more coverage since it emerged as a media story in 2004 (Extra!, 1–2/08). The Times gave Darfur nearly four times the coverage it gave the Congo in 2006, while Congolese were dying of war-related causes at nearly 10 times the rate of those in Darfur.”

It's interesting to wonder at why some things get the coverage they do. I guess they just catch our attention and once they do the media wants to feed us what we know about. I remember thinking the same thing when the pirates in Somalia caught the world media attention. They've been hijacking boats for years and then all of a sudden, for some reason it became a big story that everyone was talking about. The media is a monster that we feed.

There's no reason to not know what's going on in the world around us. If you want to know more about what's happened in the Congo, an good book to check out is Howard French's A Continent for the Taking which focuses a fair bit on his experience in the Congo in the late 90s.


Gillian said...

Brian McLaren wrote a bit on his blog about the Congo about a month and a half ago - he named three worldwide "Crises of Peace" and number 1 was the Congo, 2 was Darfur, and 3 was Palestine. It is true, we hear a lot more about Darfur than the Congo.

Megan said...

Hey Eric,

I think that you might be interested in meeting/ having some great discussions with my neighbour Mark. He travels to the Congo and other parts of Africa working in partnerships with aid agencies helping them help those who need help (obviously this is my definition, not his!).
I know you guys are skipping town soon but if you have a few spare hours at all, you guys should come on over for coffee and I will introduce you to him.

Thanks for feeling so strongly about these issues. And for helping the rest of us stay tuned to their reality.