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November 21, 2008

Congo's crisis worsens

Eighteen days ago, I published an entry titled "Conflict in Congo, refugees on the move", which showed some of the initial chaos resulting from the war erupting once again in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). In the days since, the civilian population has endured more continued fighting amongst multiple factions, cholera outbreaks, separation from family members, hunger, and further losses (of life, property, safety and trust) as both rebel forces and government soldiers have committed many acts of theft, rape and murder while thinly-stretched UN forces have been unable to provide much help. The organization Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) has recently launched their own multimedia initiative to "bring global attention to the humanitarian consequences of the intensifying war in eastern DR Congo", called Condition:Critical, please take the time to visit and hear the voices that reflect what is seen in the photos below. (39 photos total)

A Congolese child carries two boxes of high nutrition cookies inside the courtyard of the Mercy Corps clinic where the UNICEF and the IMC (International Medical Corps) distributed the cookies, mostly to Internally Displaced People (IDPs) living in a camp in Kibati about 10 kilometers (6.21 miles) north of the provincial capital of Goma, on November 4, 2008. (WALTER ASTRADA/AFP/Getty Images)

Internally Displaced People walk south towards Goma escaping fighting near Kibati on November 7, 2008. Fresh fighting had erupted the Friday before, between rebels and government forces north of Goma, scattering thousands from a displaced people's camp. The UN Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) said it had deployed helicopters to try to contain the fighting, which broke out as regional leaders attended an emergency summit on the crisis in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. (WALTER ASTRADA/AFP/Getty Images) #

A young girl and her grandfather wait at a hospital in Mueso, North Kivu, in DR Congo, in this August 8, 2008 photo released today by Medecins Sans Frontieres. (REUTERS/Cedric Gerbehaye-Medecins Sans Frontiers/Handout) #

Children who have been abandoned or orphaned by war eat dinner at the Don Bosco center in Goma in eastern Congo, November 20, 2008. Fighting in eastern Congo has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians in recent weeks, with 1,519 people taking shelter in the Don Bosco school compound. There were 89 children with no parents among them. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #

In this Nov. 6, 2008 file photo, young Protegee carries her niece, Response, as she looks for her parents in the village Kiwanja, 90 kms north of Goma, eastern Congo. When photographed on Nov. 6, Protegee was in a crowd of thousands in the town of Kiwanja, having walked for three days by herself after being separated from her mother as they fled on foot from her town about 12 miles (20 kilometers) away. Protegee finally found her mother, Esperance Nirakagori, in Kiwanja at a makeshift refugee camp six days after they were separated. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File) #

A boy looks on at the Mugunga displaced people camp, November 12, 2008 in the outskirts of the town of Goma, DR Congo. The head of UN peacekeeping has asked the UN security Council for more than 3000 extra troops to be deployed to the eastern region of DR Congo. The request is an attempt to protect civillians from the violence of rebel forces and the Congolese Army. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

A boy stands at Kibati refugee camp for internally displaced people in North Kivu in DR Congo in this November 9, 2008 photo released today by Medecins Sans Frontieres. (REUTERS/Sven Torfinn/Medecins Sans Frontiers/Handout). #

People who have been displaced by violence tap into a supply of water in their camp for Internally Displaced People located near the Nyiragongo volcano in Kibati, DR Congo, on November 11, 2008. The international Red Cross said on November 10 it had distributed food aid to over 17,000 frightened and exhausted people forced to flee fighting in the North Kivu region. (WALTER ASTRADA/AFP/Getty Images) #

With Mount Nyiragongo - an active volcano - glowing in the background, displaced people prepare the evening meal in the Kibati refugee camp outside Goma, Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008. Around 60,000 people displaced by fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo were to be moved out of the camp because of safety fears, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #

Furah carries wood and her eighteen-month-old daughter Shukyru, on the road linking Rupango to Sake, eastern Congo, Wednesday Nov. 19, 2008. Furah walks the 16 kms every day, crossing from the CNDP rebel controlled area to the government held town of Sake to sell wood. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #

A child soldier (C), known as "Kadogo," meaning "small one" in Swahili, stands at the front line at Kanyabayonga in eastern Congo, November 17, 2008. Snatched from their homes by armed men who force them to carry ammunition, to fight and kill under threat of beatings, Congo's child soldiers are teenage victims of an unforgiving war. (FINBARR O'REILLY/Reuters) #

A government soldier walks past the burned corpse of an enemy traditional Mai Mai fighter in the looted village of Kirumba in eastern Congo November 19, 2008. The local pro-government militia fought the retreating soldiers at Kirumba and Kayna on Tuesday with machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Militia leaders said they had tried to force the army troops back into battle against the rebels. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #

Government soldiers transport looted goods on a wooden scooter after a day of fighting in the village of Kayna in eastern Congo, November 18, 2008. Demoralised Congolese government troops, retreating before eastern rebels, clashed on Tuesday with their own local militia allies who tried to make them stand and fight after the armed forces chief was replaced. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #

Two soldiers serving in the Congolese army sit handcuffed to to each other after a military court sentenced them to life in prison during a military trial in the North Kivu provincial capital city of Goma on November 17, 2008. A group of soldiers fleeeing from the front lines during an attack by rebel soldiers on October 27 rampaged through the city creating chaos. A military court sentenced several soldiers for rape, looting and dereliction of duty. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) #

A woman (center), raped by a soldier from the Armed Forces of the Republic of Congo looks at her attacker, Sargent Shumbo Chance (right) as a military court was sentencing him to life in prison during a military trial in the North Kivu provincial capital city of Goma on November 17, 2008. The woman, who was raped in front of her husband, was one of many who were violated by soldiers during an attack by rebel soldiers on October 27. Amnesty International said that the UN Human Rights Council should hold a special session on DR Congo where rebels and government troops have been accused of war crimes. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) #

Two boys displaced by violence in the North Kivu region of DR Congo stand on a hill in the Kibati IDP camp near the city of Goma on November 15, 2008. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) #

A toddler gets a drink of water from her mother as they and a dozen other residents of the North Kivu town of Nyanzale gather in front of a UN peacekeepers base in the town of Rwindi on November 19, 2008. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) #

A child runs in a downpour at the Don Bosco Ngangi center in Goma, eastern Congo, Thursday Nov 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #

People displaced by violence in the North Kivu region of DR Congo crowd a local leader to register their id cards and be counted as Internally Displaced People (IDPs) at the Kibati IDP camp, near the city of Goma, on November 15, 2008. Thousands of newly arrived IDP's from the towns of Kiwanya and Rutshuru registered on ledgers. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Congolese Army soldier holds a baby chimpanzee while manning a checkpoint in the entrance to the provincial capital of Goma, Congo on November 6, 2008. The soldier explained that he has had the baby since the soldier had killed the mother to feed himself. He explained that he intends to sell the baby chimp. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Captured pro-government militia fighters sit in the rain near Kiwanja in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, November 13, 2008. Weeks of violence have forced more than 250,000 people to flee their homes or ramshackle camps where they had taken shelter, bringing the number of internal refugees from years of fighting above 1 million. (REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun) #

A Congolese army soldier walks in the bush on the frontline on November 09, 2008 just outside the town of Goma, DR Congo. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

UN special envoy, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, (in purple), and CNDP rebel leader Laurent Nkunda (in suit) dance in Jomba, east Congo, near the Uganda border, Sunday Nov. 16, 2008. The UN 's special envoy on Congo met the Central African country's main rebel leader for the first time Sunday in a bid to end the crisis, as the U.N. reported more heavy fighting elsewhere in the east. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #

Women sit on the ground as they wait for their turn to receive food rations from the International Red Cross near a camp for displaced people in Kibati, near the North Kivu provincial capital of Goma, on November 13, 2008. Rebels in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo were on the outskirts of Kanyabayonga town, the scene of looting by government forces early this week, rebel and other sources said. (WALTER ASTRADA/AFP/Getty Images) #

A woman stricken with Cholera lies on a bed at the General Hospital of the provincial capital city of Goma on November 13, 2008. The World Health Organisation warned on November 11, 2008 that cholera poses a "serious risk" in conflict-hit eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where around 1,000 cases have been reported since October. (WALTER ASTRADA/AFP/Getty Images) #

The coffin of eight-month old Alexandrine Kabitsebangumi, who died from cholera, is lowered into a grave in a banana grove at Kibati, north of Goma in eastern Congo, November 12, 2008. Recent fighting has contributed to a heightened risk of cholera, with poor sanitation, lack of clean water, the constant movement of people into squalid and crowded camps. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #

Pregnant women are reflected in a puddle as they stand in line to receive birth kits from a local NGO at a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Kibati, on November 12, 2008. With a "schizophrenic" mandate and a lack of troops and logistics, UN peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo are being accused of being powerless and ineffective. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Congolese government soldier wearing a wig smokes by the roadside near the front line, north of Goma in eastern Congo, November 11, 2008. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #

Men stand near a Congolese Army tank on November 19, 2008 in the center of Kibumba. The town was the scene of an armed clash on November 18 in what a pro-government militia said was a "friendly fire" incident with government forces. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) #

Raindrops cling to the fingertips of a dead Congolese government soldier lying on the road at the frontline near Kibati, November 12, 2008. Two soldiers, both shot through the head, were killed in a sharp exchange of artillery, mortar, rocket and machine gun fire late on Tuesday a few kilometres from a refugee camp at Kibati sheltering 80,000 civilians displaced by violence. This is the tense frontline in the simmering war in Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province, where Tutsi rebels and government troops face each other just 200 meters apart from positions in the bush and fields. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #

An elderly woman displaced by fighting stands in a refugee camp in Kiwanja, 70km (50 miles) north of Goma in eastern Congo, November 11, 2008. Packed into squalid refugee camps or roaming in the bush, hundreds of thousands of Congolese children face hunger, disease, sexual abuse or recruitment by marauding armed factions, aid workers said on Tuesday. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #

Two-year-old Eliya lays on a bed in the hospital of Rutshuru in eastern DR Congo on November 10, 2008, after being treated for a gunshot wound to his arm. Eliya arrived last week from the neaby town of Kiwanja, 80 kms north of the North Kivu provincial capital of Goma with some 40 other civilians fleeing combat between renegade general Laurent Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) fighters and pro-governmentl Mai-Mai militias. Eliya, who does not know what happened to his parents, has not spoken since arriving at the hospital. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) #

Children who have been abandoned or orphaned by war sit at the Don Bosco center in Goma in eastern Congo, November 20, 2008. Fighting in eastern Congo has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians in recent weeks. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly) #

A girl looks on at refugee camp near a UN peacekeepers camp on November 07, 2008 in Kiwanja, DR Congo. Over 250,000 people have been displaced after fighting erupted between the rebel CNDP and the army in the last several weeks. According to reports, violence continues despite a ceasefire declared by (CNDP) rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

A child runs past a U.N. helicopter that had just landed near a makeshift displaced persons camp outside the MONUC base in Kiwanja, 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Goma, Friday, Nov. 7, 2008. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo) #

Marie Charlotte joins others for evening service at Kiwanja's catholic church in eastern Congo Sunday Nov. 16, 2008. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) #

People look at the body of a man in civilian clothes who was allegedely shot dead by rebels of Laurent Nkunda's CNDP force during clashes with pro-government Mai Mai militia, leaving scores dead and displacing thousands, on November 06, 2008 in Kiwanga. Rebels smashed a ceasefire and wrested control of another town in eastern DR Congo in clashes with government forces on the eve of a regional summit on the crisis, the UN said. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) #

Renegade army general Laurent Nkunda's pet goat "Betty" peeks from behind his master's boots moments after he arrived at his headquarters camp high up in the mountains of North Kivu in DR Congo on November 3, 2008. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) #

A boy holds his brother at the Kibati camp for displaced people on November 13, 2008 on the outskirts of the town of Goma. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #