Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, and, oil and natural gas

On January 22, 2008, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) reported that the "Democratic Republic of Congo's 1998-2003 war and its aftermath had caused more deaths than any other conflict since World War Two," and that "war, disease and malnutrition are killing 45,000 Congolese every month in a conflict-driven humanitarian crisis."  And, they said that there had been no change in the war-driven casualty rate since 2004.

The IRC's statement is both bleak and oblique.  Oblique, as in the second definition in Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary:\

"2 a : not straightforward : indirect; also : obscure b : devious, underhanded"
The IRC declined to identify the aggressors in the Congo War, making only vague reference first to "rebel groups, local militia, and Congo's own army," and then, to "Tutsi rebels and Mai Mai militias."
Like all the big multinational corporations in the relief-in-the-Global-South industries, the IRC would jeopardize its contracts with Western governments, and, corporate contributions, by identifying the real, foreign powers arming African proxy armies to fight for Congo's vast natural resources, including:

1)  An estimated $30 billion worth of oil reserves in Lake Albert, which forms much of the border of Western Uganda and Northeastern Congo.

Fishermen near an oil rig on the edge of Lake Albert, which forms part of the Western Ugandan and Eastern Congolese border. 

2)  And, $20 billion worth of methane gas, a.k.a., natural gas, in Lake Kivu, which forms much of the  Western Rwanda and Southeastern Congo border.

An off-duty soldier washes his clothes next to Lake Kivu, which forms part of the Western Rwandan and Eastern Congolese border.

Although these oil and gas reserves exist beneath and around lakes that form the borders of Uganda/ Congo and Rwanda/Congo borders, press and other organizations almost always characterize them as Uganda's oil and Rwanda's natural gas.

The boundaries on this map do not represent official borders recognized by the United Nations, but they illustrate that Lake Albert, with an estimated $30 billion worth of oil, forms part of the Uganda/Congo border, with the border running through its center.  And, that Lake Kivu, site of an estimated $20 billion worth of natural gas, forms part of the Western Rwanda/Eastern Congo border, again, with the border running through its center.


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