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War/Conflict
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Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa
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Africa, Congo, DRC, Children, Refugees, Conflict, Militias
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The world's deadliest conflict today is unfolding in the western provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the last five years, it has claimed more than 2 million lives through violence, disease and starvation. As is often the case in conflict, children are the ones paying the highest price.
Roger LeMoyne

2004 — professional

The world's deadliest conflict today is unfolding in the western provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the last five years, it has claimed more than 2 million lives through violence, disease and starvation. As is often the case in conflict, children are the ones paying the highest price.

War is not what it used to be. Since WWII, conflicts have shifted away from organized armies fighting conventional warfare to civil wars and inter-ethnic conflict. These conflicts are often long-term, low-intensity, and involve untrained and undisciplined irregular armies or militia.
In the wars of the last decade, the greatest number of casualties was among non-combatants. 

Civilian fatalities in wartime climbed from 15 per cent during World War I, to 65 per cent by the end of World War II, to more than 90 per cent in the wars of the 1990s. There has been an increasing use of civilian populations as cover, bargaining chips, targets of psychological warfare or as another resource for soldiers to exploit. The most vulnerable civilians of all are children. In the last decade 2,000,000 children have been killed and another 4,000,000 disabled in conflicts. At least half of the estimated 57.4 million people displaced by war around the world are children, many of whom have been orphaned. The cyclical nature of many long-term conflicts means that children grow up with war as a state of normalcy. The most obstinate wars are the ones in which combatants have been educated in conflict while still children.

I did not set out to cover conflicts in this light. The theme of war's civilian victims seemed to be thrust upon me as I traveled to areas of conflict. The fate of civilians was inescapable and drew the camera to it, while the geography and hardware of conflict seemed less real than the suffering it left behind, particularly among the young.

This project first materialized when I exhibited some of the work that I had been doing at the International Conference on War-Affected Children in Winnipeg in the fall of 2000. To date, this project covers events in Israel/Palestine, Rwanda and the Congo, Afghanistan, Kosovo and the former Yugoslavia, Southern Sudan and other countries.

The immediate goal of the work this grant would support is to draw attention back to the neglected conflict in the Congo and others in the Great Lakes Region.

The overall aim of this project on war-affected children is to raise awareness of the nature of conflict in our time and of the international community's obligation to intervene whenever and wherever human rights are violated. After WWII, the international community created global structures to mediate between nations and governments, but not between ethnic groups or within borders. But as war changes, the international community must also change its ways of dealing with war.

The subjects I would cover with the help of this grant are in the Great Lakes region in Africa:

•    The situation in Ituri province in Eastern Congo where I worked briefly in 2003 photographing child soldiers, displaced populations and the international relief effort.

•    Northern Uganda where the Lord's Resistance Army uses children as it's main sources of "manpower" through kidnappings and slavery.

•    If budget allows I would also include Burundi, where circumstances similar to those of Rwanda in the early 90's remain in place.

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Bunia, August 2003. 3 youths ranging from a boy to adolescent to young man all bear arms in the same Lendu militia unit on the road between Bunia and Marabou where killings occurred regularly. Roger LeMoyne/Alexia Foundation
Fataki, DR Congo August 2003. The body of a villager lies in the main road on the outskirts of Fataki, a Hema village that had been overrun and completely destroyed by Lendu militiamen in August 2003. The man had been bound and appeared to have been shot execution-style along with another villager nearby. Roger LeMoyne/Alexia Foundation
Mongbwalu, democratic Republic of Congo, October 2004. Congolese men prospect in ruins of the abandoned mine. 

Eastern Congo has been destabilized by war for the last five years. One of the reasons for the conflict  has been the struggle to control the regions mineral wealth. The conflict has often taken the form of ethnic strife, but many feel that these are tribal struggles formented by outsiders that want to keep moving the mineral wealth across their borders. Large international mining companies have pulled out, leaving the work to be done by barefoot Congolese, some of them children, with shovels and buckets. Roger LeMoyne/Alexia Foundation
Durba, Democratic Republic of Congo, October 2004. Congolese men & boys prospect for gold, all work being done by hand. Roger LeMoyne/Alexia Foundation
Mongbwalu, democratic Republic of Congo, October 2004. A mother holds her child who recently died of malaria.  The father of the child is a gold miner in Mongbwalu. Roger LeMoyne/Alexia Foundation
Mongbwalu, democratic Republic of Congo, October 2004. The funeral of an infant,the child of a miner, who died of Malaria. There is a hospital in Mongbwalu, but virtually no drugs and little staff. Roger LeMoyne/Alexia Foundation
Congolese in Bunia sell items to UN troops. Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo, August 25th,2003. Congolese,some of them refugees from the fighting in Ituri province, sell items to Uruguayan troops stationed in Bunia as UN peacekeepers. The razor wire is the perimeter of the Uruguayans camp. Roger LeMoyne/Alexia Foundation
Militia men and child soldiers must receive iris scans in order to prevent them from receiving more than one monetary settlement in the demobilization program. Roger LeMoyne/Alexia Foundation
Boys under 18 years of age are separated from adult fighters at the Mushaki Congolese National Army military camp on March 22, 2005.  The young boys will go to a child soldier demobilization program run by UNICEF in Goma. Roger LeMoyne/Alexia Foundation
Fishermen on Lake Kivu near Goma set their nets at dusk. March 26, 2005. Lake Kivu lies between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Albert making up the Great Lakes Region within the borders of Rwanda, Burundi, the Congo, and Uganda.  The Great Lakes Region's beautiful geography has been the back drop 1994 genocide in Rwanda and ongoing conflict in the Congo and Uganda.Roger Lemoyne/Alexia Foundation