DR Congo - Understanding the Conflict
DR Congo - Understanding the ConflictFighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to kill thousands after an official declaration of peace.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s conflict is the worst in Africa’s history and the deadliest since World War II.
Since it began in 1998, the war claimed more than five million lives and displaced hundreds of thousands. Officially, the war ended in 2003 with a peace agreement between President Joseph Kabila and rebel groups. However, violence continues as parties compete for Congo’s vast mineral wealth.
During the height of fighting, systematic rape by all parties victimized an average 1,000 women per day. In the year 2006 alone, more than 400,000 women and girls were reportedly raped. Underfunded medical clinics are flooded with women suffering from sexually transmitted diseases.
Conflict in the DR Congo involves dozens of rebels groups, armies from many countries and ethnic disputes all competing for the country’s vast natural resources.
Though unsuccessful, numerous attempts have been made to reduce violence, including a 1999 peace accord with six warring countries, a 2007 militia demobilization, and a 2008 ceasefire between armed groups.
The DR Congo’s history is filled with violent political turmoil beginning with their colonisation by Belgian King Leopold II in 1885. Millions are said to have died during this period, which lasted until Congo’s independence in 1960.
Political instability has not helped either. Two government leaders were assassinated and one was sent into exile after a series of coups and mutinies.
Because the story of the DR Congo is under-reported in mainstream global media, activists have taken to social media to highlight the suffering.
Today, we devote an entire episode to understanding the impact from years of fighting in DR Congo. Joining us on the couch is Robin Wright, a DR Congo activist and actress and Fidel Bafilemba, a DRC field researcher for the Enough Project. Connecting with us via Skype is Sharanjeet Parmar, head of the DR Congo office of the International Center for Transitional Justice.
These are some of the social media elements featured in this episode of The Stream.