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Congo Crisis Background

Posted by sarahnics on November 8, 2008

The Democratic Republic of Congo is trying to recover from its five year long war, dubbed “Africa’s World War,” which involved seven countries and devastated the entire region.

The war officialy ended in 2003, however peace  talks seems to have had no affect on the rebel forces continuing to kill thousands of people, resulting in one of the worst humanitarian crisis’ the world ever witnessed.

The war is directly connected to the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda in 1994, where nearly 800,000 Tutsi and some Hutu were slaughtered by the Hutu government.

Rwanda’s post war Tutsi government then invaded Congo in 1996 to pursue the Hutu militia. Rwanda then installed the rebel leader Laurent Kabilaas president, who then started stirring up hatred for the Tutsi in Congo.

This triggered off the war which raged from 1998 to 2003, and involved Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Uganda.   

Peace Talks

In 2001 Kabila was assassinated, his son Joseph gained power and soon began peace talks, which are still in place today, but are on very unstable with talks of outbreaks of violence across the Congo.

The largest UN peacekeeping force is stationed in Congo with 17,000 troops, and the International Criminal Court in The Hague launching inquiries into investigating war crimes.

The task of keeping control in country the size of western Europe,  lacking even the most basic infrastructure and troops having to use jungle paths and rivers as their paths.

Also with dozens of groups, heavily armed, and some reportedly being backed by the Rwandan or the Ugandan governments or powerful politicians, it seems almost impossible to keep the peace.

Humanitarian Crisis

According to the International Rescue Committee, since the start of Africa’s War, some 5.4 million people have died from violence or war related illness since 1998.

Militias regularly target civilian men, and women, children and thousands of families are in a constant battle for their lives.

Aid agencies say rape is endemic in regions where militias are a constant occurrence. They live to brutalise villagers and loot, and the very old an very young are the worst affected.

More than 340,000 Congolese are displaced from their homes and have taken refuge across the region, although some are beginning to make their way home.

Sarah Nicholas (

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