Acts of Violence
Civilians in Congo, particularly in the volatile east, have been wounded, forcibly displaced, conscripted into militias, raped, and killed. In January 2008, the International Rescue Committee reported that an estimated 5.4 million people had died between 1998 and 2008 as a result of the conflict. Nearly half of these deaths were children under five years of age. Most of the deaths were due to easily preventable and treatable illnesses, such as fever, malaria, diarrhea, respiratory infections, and malnutrition -- a consequence of the war's destruction of infrastructure and economy. The problem of rape, often perpetrated with extreme violence, is endemic. It is estimated that at least 40,000 women and girls have been raped. In 2008 alone, at least 1 million people were displaced by violence.
Ethnicity has continued to play a central role in the perpetration of violence against civilians in eastern Congo, even though no single group has proved capable of totally overwhelming another. Divisions have occurred along multiple fault lines: between Banyamulenge and so-called indigenous groups; Hutu and Tutsi; and Lendu and Hema. Including both Hutu and Tutsi, some Banyamulenge have lived in the Congo for over a century, while others emigrated from Rwanda or Burundi over the past few decades.
Some of the most dangerous areas for civilians include the provinces: North Kivu, Ituri, Katanga, Orientale, and Bas-Congo.