Saturday, January 25, 2014

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Explosion at Arms Depot in Mbuji-Mayi Kills 20, Injures 50

According to Reutersthe number of people known to have been killed by an explosion at an arms depot in the DRC has risen to more than 20, the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, MONUSCO, said on Saturday (January 25).

The blast occurred on Friday (January 24) when a lightning strike sparked a fire at the depot near the diamond mining hub of Mbuji-Mayi, the country's third largest city.
"Over 20 people were killed and more than 50 were injured and many houses destroyed by the blast," said a statement released by the MONUSCO.
COMMENT: The DRC, a country the size of Western Europe, is home to an estimated 65 million people. 
The majority of people in the DRC live in poverty, despite its wealth of natural resources such as copper, cobalt, gold and diamonds, much of which is stolen by rebels and corrupt government officials.
According to http://www.transparency.org, in the 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index, the DRC placed in 154th place out of 177 countries, suggesting that there level of transparency is very, very low.
To make matters worse, the threat level for crime in the DRC is "Critical" and the threat level for political violence is "High" on the US Department of State's descending four-tier threat categorization system of "Critical, High, Medium and Low." 

Considering that police response in a security emergency is described as "slow to non-existent," I strongly urge that ONLY essential travel to the DRC be undertaken and only with "maximum security support."