Haiti: Congo joins Senegal in rare poor-help-poor diplomacy

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A row has ensued over the kind gesture of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the victims of Haiti’s earthquake devastation. While many have praised the DRC government, others have lashed out at it.

The DRC has offered $2.5m in emergency aid to Haiti, to help the devastated country cope with last week’s earthquake that has left over 50,000 dead, and many more homeless.

University of Kinshasa’s political scientist, Ntanda Nkere told reporters that: “It’s a contradiction to see a country [DR Congo] which is facing serious financial problems giving away $2.5m.”

Echoing the views of the Kinshasa political scientist, some Congolese have criticized the offer, stating that years of conflict, which is still raging in the east, has kept millions of people living in poverty.

Even though DR Congo depends on foreign aid and its civil servants seldom get paid, the country’s information Minister Lambert Mende, believes the country can donate to Haiti, within its means.

“Congo isn’t bankrupt, our own problems shouldn’t prevent us from helping a brother country,” Mr. Mende is quoted.

However, the political scientist Ntanda Nkere, believes that it is a political move. “It’s a purely diplomatic reaction; the Congolese government wants to appear like any other government,” Nkere added.

This Kind gesture from one poor country to another followed the example set by Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade on Sunday when he offered free land to Haitians who wish to return to Africa.

Responding to the Senegalese offer, DR Congo’s information minister said the government would certainly not reject any Haitians if they wanted to move to DR Congo.

The UN launched an appeal for $562m to help three million people for six months, while some two million people are thought to need emergency relief. The U.S, the U.K, and other donor nations have led the international relief supplies.

A UN official has said aid workers are dealing with a disaster “like no other” in UN memory because the country had been decapitated. The Pan American Health Organization put the death toll between fifty and one hundred thousand, while Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said 100,000 would seem a minimum.

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