Congo: The

The divided nation continues to experience conflict-related deaths each day.

The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, but, even during this crucial period of elections, the conflict remains unknown and disregarded by many.

The conflict began when Rwanda and Uganda invaded the country in 1998, after some 800,000 refugees – many thought to have been responsible for the genocide in Rwanda – fled into the country. The conflict has since claimed 4 million lives. Although the conflict officially ended in 2002 after international pressure on Rwanda and Uganda, the divided nation continues to experience conflict-related deaths each day. It means nothing to have powerful individuals sign a peace agreement when people continue to live in tragic situations.

For a country so large in population, U.N. forces not only came too late after declaring the conflict “too big to handle” in diplomatic circles, but they came in small numbers with inadequate funds. And despite the fact that fighting, raping and looting continue to exist, the conflict in Congo remains low on humanitarian donor lists and in news headlines. This is a direct result underexposure to the conflict.

Congo is neglected in academic and diplomatic circles, as well as in the echoing media, which feel the need to report only on what powerful entities are discussing – not necessarily what appears most grave.

Another theory on why Congo appears unnoticed is the claim that people are exhausted after the Asian tsunami and overwhelmed with the conflict in Darfur. What if the Holocaust were ignored simply because it was “too big to handle”? Moreover, would it ever be acceptable to argue that the conflict in Somalia exhausted the world, and therefore the genocide in Rwanda was justifiably ignored?

The world is a smaller place, and a conflict in one area of the world has a tendency to create larger global issues. For the first time since 1960, Congo is holding free elections. Even with the fear of violence, the United Nations refers to this moment as a crucial one for the stability of the country – and perhaps the world.