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NEW: How a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was made worse by Trump's "America First" policies and the world's neglect (Warning: Graphic images)
A VICE News investigation has found evidence of an ethnic cleansing campaign in the DRC, violence made worse by Trump’s “America First” policies and the world’s neglect
The mysterious campaign of violence that swept through Djugu territory in the DRC’s Ituri province, affecting hundreds of thousands of the area’s people, began last December
In all, about 120 communities were attacked, according to the United Nations. Hundreds were killed and thousands of homes were destroyed. @nickturse reports
@nickturse “This may be genocide,” Hadji Ruhingwa Bamaraki, president of the Hema community’s cultural association, said at the height of the violence
@nickturse “I met toddlers whose faces were split by machetes. There was the elderly woman with the shattered arm who had been shot in the face with an arrow. The little girl whose head the attackers tried to hack off.”
@nickturse It was as if the entire population of St. Louis, Pittsburgh, or Cincinnati were forced into exile
The violence in DRC shows what happens when the world averts its gaze from a humanitarian crisis
More than 2 million Congolese fled their homes last year alone, close to three times the number of Rohingya made homeless by an ethnic cleansing campaign in Myanmar
In 2018, there were 13 million Congolese in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, the same number as in Syria
On March 15, fed up by the silence of Congolese officials, Pierre Claver Bedidjo, a local MP and ethnic Alur, appealed to the local head of MONUSCO, the U.N. peacekeeping mission
A recent study found that MONUSCO bases in Congo dramatically lowered violence in nearby regions. But MONUSCO was hampered by funding cuts in the months before violence broke out.

The party most responsible for MONUSCO’s cost-cutting measures? The U.S.
In 2017, Nikki Haley, President Trump’s new ambassador to the U.N., pushed for and won major reductions in funding for peacekeeping troops, including MONUSCO
Afterward, Ambassador Haley hailed the cuts as a harbinger of what to expect from the new administration. “We have an obligation to the American people to show value in the use of their taxpayer dollars,” she said
The State Department repeatedly failed to answer questions about whether its cutbacks hampered MONUSCO’s response to the Ituri violence, and instead provided tepid talking points about U.S. support for the mission
When it comes to Africa, the MONUSCO budget cuts are part of a larger pattern of neglect by the administration. The president may dispute the report that he referred to African nations as "shithole" countries, but Trump’s policies speak for themselves
On President Trump’s watch, the U.S. has left 14 African nations without an ambassadorship, including the DRC
Ten years ago, when the Humanitarian Response Plan for Congo was funded at 83 percent of the request, the United States was, by far, the top donor.

As of April 2018, the U.S. was only the third most generous contributor
“If you look at last year’s totals, per person targeted, Democratic Republic of Congo received $62. If you look at Syria, it was $305 per person targeted.”
“The humanitarian situation in the DRC is at a breaking point, as is our capacity to respond.” - Jean-Philippe Chauzy, the head of the U.N. migration agency’s mission to the DRC
These are all of the attacks on villages we were able to independently verify in the DRC
“The number of people in need in Congo is the exact same as those in need in Syria. But people don’t care about Congo.”
In early February, refugees swamped the General Hospital compound in Bunia and spilled into a nearby field that became the town’s first IDP camp. Hundreds of exiles were soon living in makeshift hovels built on top of each other
"In April, as people were returning to villages just outside of Bunia, I traveled with FARDC troops down the Central-Largu Road, deep into rural Djugu"
The FARDC deployments and operations by MONUSCO seemingly halted the massacres, but the damage was done
The attackers had taken everything worth stealing from the Hema villages — animals and food, kitchen items and clothing. They tore the metal roofs off homes and schools and churches and carried them off
The pattern of the violence was stark and offered the clearest indication that ethnic cleansing had been the motive behind the massacres
These are the stories of those who survived the ethnic cleansing campaign
“I said, ‘Why are you cutting me? Forgive me! Have mercy!’ But they cut my arm. It’s broken. They cut off my finger."
“I knew them. They were my neighbors — Richa, Lekda, Tcheddya, Manoli...After I was cut, I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I found the dead body of my son next to me.”
“'Nightmare' was a word I heard more than one refugee use to describe the violence in Ituri or the privation that followed, but few people understood why either had come to pass"
"I had stumbled upon an ethnic cleansing campaign and I was watching it unfold in real-time."

This is how @nickturse reported on this story from the DRC
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