This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

The Conundrum of the Congo

There is rarely good news out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaïre, and sometimes known as Congo-Kinshasa, to distinguish it from its smaller neighbor, the Congo, whose capital is Brazzaville). It is a geographically large and very populous nation of nearly 70 million. It is probably the poorest country on earth, yet it is growing very rapidly because of its very high fertility (a TFR over 6) that more than makes up for what is still one of the highest levels of mortality in the world. Contributing to that is the high mortality from violence, and violence is what is in the news this past week:

Three groups of armed militia raped at least 303 civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo over four days, said a UN initial report on the atrocities whose "scale and viciousness... defy belief."
"At least 303 civilians were raped, in many cases multiple times," said a statement issued by the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the country in a preliminary report outlining the violations which took place between July 30 and August 2.
"While one group was looting and raping in a village... another would be setting ambushes to catch people fleeing through the forest, who were also then raped or taken away as forced labour," it added.
"The scale and viciousness of these mass rapes defy belief," said UN human rights chief Navi Pillay.
For the most part, the rest of the world has paid little attention to the Congo, but it is already in the top 20 in the world in terms of population size and it is projected to be in the top 10 by 2050. At some point, the international community is going to have to work out a plan to help the country improve life for its citizens.

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