Our View: Some wars are still invisible

The work by diplomats and world leaders to head off open war between Ukraine and Russia is admirable. But the relentless media focus on Ukraine highlights one of the ways in which the major media do not always give us a complete picture of the world.

Dozens of people have been killed in Ukraine during the revolution and fighting between protestors and riot police in the main square of Kyiv.

Compare that to the 5.4 million victims claimed over a decade by the Second Congo War between 1998 and 2008.

Western media devoted a tiny fraction of TV coverage or newspaper space to the conflict, one which caused more deaths than any conflict since the Second World War.

We’re used to thinking of wars in Africa, Central America, or Southeast Asia as being unimportant, unless a European or North American power is involved.

This is a dangerous way to see the world.

The complexities of the Russian and Ukrainian political situation are many – the shared history of both regions involves multiple revolutions, invasions, ethnic cleansings, and one of the largest famines of the 20th century.

Yet many of these issues will be teased out by the media over the next few days and weeks. Both the media and the general public are perfectly capable of absorbing information.

However, we will not see many stories about the continuing conflicts in countries affected by the Congo Wars or the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide, or of the attacks of the Lord’s Resistance Army from Uganda.

The current major war in Africa, which has actually received more coverage than normal in Canadian media, is that in the Central African Republic. Like the situation in Ukraine, it is complicated, involving religious and regional tensions. It is already leading to the displacement of thousands of people.

As Canada offers aid to Ukraine, we should think of other nations where Canada’s soft powers of diplomacy, peacekeeping, and development can also help.

– M.C.

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