Picture this: Congo without war

To paraphrase John Lennon, you may call me a dreamer but I can imagine the Democratic Republic of Congo without war.

Just. Shockingly, after a decade or more of continuous violence it’s actually now difficult to envisage a peaceful Congo. Never mind a country with a decent minimum standard of healthcare, education and housing for its long-suffering population.

See these new MSF photographs on the BBC website to get a glimpse of the reality of life for ordinary people trying to survive the chaos of twenty-first-century Congo.

With every fresh set of photos, piece of news footage or print report coming out of Congo you do now get a picture of a country teetering on the edge of some kind of humanitarian apocalypse. (For yet more evidence of this, listen again to Mike Thompson on the Today programme (7.43), speaking to Congolese rape survivor Zawadi Mongane).

Actually as I write this post half of the office is out at a demo outside Downing Street holding up clocks and watches saying to Gordon Brown that time is running out for the people of Congo. The call is for more peacekeepers urgently.

As the Guardian’s Simon Tisdall noted in the Guardian podcast yesterday, even a situation as critical as Congo can soon slip out of the media gaze (Somali pirates or some such story will grab the attention of foreign editors and Congo will be dropped).

What will help keep the media caravan parked in Congo is an unrelenting lobbying campaign from Amnesty and others, and also high-quality work from individual journalists capable of inspiring news editors and the public alike.

For a great example of this, if you’re in the London area come to our event tomorrow night to hear award-winning photojournalist Cédric Gerbehaye talk about how he got his brilliant photographs of the cruelty and stark beauty of Congo. 

If you can’t make that, look out for more pics from our Downing Street demo – coming soon – and please link to this blog encouraging people to take action on Congo. It’s not exactly a case of war is over if you want it, but we can at least try.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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