With U.N. Role in Question, D.R. Congo Once Again at Precipice of War

With U.N. Role in Question, D.R. Congo Once Again at Precipice of War

LONDON -- From the air, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo looks like paradise on earth, a palette of rich, red earth, rolling green hills and crystal-blue lakes under a panoramic sky that seems to stretch on forever.

But on the ground, the grim reality of one of the world's most volatile and perennially ignored regions shocks, with its morass of frightened civilians, bellicose and well-armed fighters and an intractable conflict that threatens to boil over again into war. If that occurs, it will boost an already tragically bloody decade's death toll, estimated at more than four million people, vastly higher.

This is the Great Lakes region in east Africa, where in 1994 ethnic hatred spurred a genocide in Rwanda that claimed the lives of more than 800,000 people, slaughtered at the knife-blades and hands of their neighbors.

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