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Untangling the Complexities: Background to the Congo


The Democratic Republic of the Congo has suffered two wars since 1996. At its height, the second war involved the armies from seven African nations and multiple rebel groups. According to the International Rescue Committee, an estimated 5.4 million people died between 1998 and 2008, most from preventable diseases as a result of the collapse of infrastructure, lack of food security, displacement, and destroyed health-care systems. The formal conclusion of the war in 2003 did not bring an end to conflict in the region.

The dense jungles of eastern Congo remain home to numerous rebel organizations, which have complex histories and agendas. Responsible for perpetrating mass atrocities against civilians, including massacres, rapes, and abductions, three rebel groups stand out as having caused the greatest destruction and suffering in recent years. These are the FDLR, CNDP, and LRA. At times, each organization has received government support from different countries in the region, and many of the rebels have profited generously from the continued exploitation of the DRC’s abundant natural resources. All prey on the civilian population.

Spread thinly across northeastern Congo, the largest UN peacekeeping force in the world (MONUC) is largely unable to halt attacks. The Congolese Armed Forces, themselves responsible for committing widespread atrocities in 2009, is increasingly an impediment to achieving peace and security in the region.

We have recently published background summaries for the FDLR, CNDP, and LRA. We hope they will help extend an understanding of what can appear to be, at first glance, a hopelessly complicated situation. Please follow the links to learn more.

Tags:   dr congorwanda

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