Albert Schweitzer: “Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose.”
Amidst the appalling figures of the never-ending humanitarian crisis still brewing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it is paralleled with an increasingly lucrative, hungry, humanitarian industry, with a strategy to nurse its continued existence.
The above quote by Schweitzer sums up what any credible humanitarian effort should seek to achieve; ‘never sacrificing a human being to a purpose.’
The negative reaction by many of these groups or agencies both local and international to the joint Rwanda- DRC operation to uproot the FDLR rebels, who have caused untold human suffering to those they claim to be ‘humanitarianing’, exposes the sad posturing on their part.
They are willing to continue ‘sacrificing’ the people of the Congo to their ‘purpose’. A purpose I dwell on in this article.
A lot has been written on the good efforts of humanitarianism in crisis torn regions, however, almost nothing is mentioned of their double standards and misplaced motives for their presence - in this case DRC.
So often we are fed with pictures of desperate scrawny, dirty figures of displaced, women and children, receiving plates of food or blankets, and other handouts from these present day ‘Florence Nightingale’s, on a mission to save the world.
A noble mission indeed, but sadly in the eastern DRC, it has been riddled with its own contradictions which demand demystification.
To start with for the last 10 years, MONUC- UN peace-keepers have been acting as a buffer to the conflict in eastern DRC. With all this time spent trying to contain the DRC crisis and let alone the gigantic US$ one billion per year budget, no results have been produced.
The only thing that showed some UN presence was the December 10th, deeply flawed UN Group of Experts report, which made allegations that Rwanda was supporting the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) - a now disbanded rebel group whose ex-leader was arrested by the Rwandan authorities.
Consequently, one would hope that the humanitarians would be satisfied with the joint effort by Rwanda and DRC to deal not only with the problems of the FDLR. This has not been the case; someone’s job and purse have been threatened.
Due to the pressure and advancement of the Joint forces, today as we speak, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) – the Interahamwe militia responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi’s and root cause of the eastern DRC crisis, is quickly thinning in number.
What is even more interesting is that the one week long operation of the Joint forces has produced more results than 10 years of UN’s humanitarian presence in eastern DRC.
This only leaves one to wonder what exactly MONUC has been doing. Apart from MONUC we also have noises from other ‘humanitarian’ quarters, that Congolese President Joseph Kabila should have consulted parliament before agreeing to the joint agreement, in yet another ridiculous attempt to discredit this mission, they now question whether Kabila is ‘Congolese.’
How absurd can a situation get?
The case is not only true for DRC, recall Rwanda’s case where the French humanitarian force, Operation Turquoise, instead of helping victims during the genocide, only fuelled the slaughter by importing more sophisticated weaponry and artillery for the perpetrators (According to General Romeo Delaire’s book- Shaking Hands with the Devil).
In other words there was nothing humanitarian about this group.
Jean Bricmont, in his book- The Doctrines of Humanitarian Intervention, criticizes how Western powers have always deployed human rights rhetoric in a selective and self-serving manner, ignoring their own abuses and those of allies while using the ‘abuses’ of unfriendly regimes as an excuse to justify intervention.
Bricmont further goes on to describe how the failure of one form of Western intervention creates a humanitarian crisis. This in the end is taken as evidence for an even more extensive intervention.
What is frustrating about these humanitarian interventions is that, rarely do foreign policy analysts step back and learn from these crises. They do not observe that sometimesthe wisest solution would have been avoiding interference in the first place.
According to the international law, human rights violations annul national sovereignty. This has always been a basis for humanitarianism where superior powers come in, guided by the “right to protect” and “end inhumanity.”
It is against this background, that the “saintly glow” of humanitarianism is questioned. One can only ponder that a broad range of hidden agendas, some more obvious than others often betray the human rights argument of humanitarianism.
Since freedom implies war, in this context, the Joint Rwanda-DRC military operation will flush out all the genocidal negative forces in eastern DRC.
This is a clearly opposed to the rumblings by the International Crisis Group (ICG), that the above joint operation will cause more suffering to the Congolese populace.
The ICG analysts can only sit behind their desks and write ill informed reports, while the Rwandan’s and Congolese take their destiny into their hands, do what the world has failed them - free their people of the suffering brought about by rebel movements.