According to an article by the Washington Post, the return of Kyungu “Gedeon” Mutanga, a warlord who broke out of jail last year, has spread fear in Southeastern Congo, which has led thousands to flee the area.
Aid workers say, as a result, so far, 12,500 people have been displace, 1,000 children are malnourished, 10 women have been raped by his Mai Mai militia and 25 people have died in the Katanga province.
In 2009, Mutanga was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity and rape. However, he escaped from jail in September 2011. Despite the $100,000 bounty on his head, he is still at large.
Aid workers are calling for humanitarian aid for the people who have been displaced. The minister of the interior of the province, Dikanga Kazadi, said they are evaluating the situation and they are in touch with aid partners in order to get assistance quickly. They are also planning a counterattack against Mutanga and his militia. However, they believe it is too early to call it a humanitarian crisis.
While I believe this could be true. I also believe that early warning signs need to be taken seriously. Too often has the international community ignored these signs- like with the famine in Somalia- only to see that in hind sight they should have acted sooner. Like I have said before, we must learn from our past mistakes. We must learn that acting sooner will not have negative ramifications. It will only resolve the conflict and/or crisis sooner with not as many lives lost.