Conflict and consequences in Democratic Republic of Congo


map Democratic Republic of Congo Duration of the conflict
1996 - present

Nature of the conflict
Regional and internal war till 2003. Neighbouring countries involved, including: Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia. Endemic conflict in the Eastern part of Congo between different local and foreign fighting militia, some of them still supported by neighbouring countries, and government forces (FARDC).

Humanitarian aspects
Human Development Index 20071: 139 (2006: 167) An estimated2 5,4 million deaths, mostly as an indirect consequence of the conflict (uncertain food situation, no access to health care or relief organisations, etc.). Approximately 1,1 million3 displaced persons (internally displaced persons, IDPs) and 400,0004 refugees in neighbouring countries.

Child soldiers
An estimated 7,000 soldiers5. Wide-spread sexual violence.

Country's current phase
In transition from war to peace / intensive endemic conflict in the Eastern part of Congo despite the 2003 peace agreement and the installation of a new, democratically elected president and parliament in 2006. Weak government institutions and legal system. Large parts of the Southern and Northern Kivu provinces are still particularly unsafe because of the presence of active armed factions, new armed factions and former militia members in the government army still loyal to other leaders. The building of a single, integrated government army is a slow and inefficient process.

Problems

Throughout the country, the war has led to a serious deterioration of the socio-economic situation. People scarcely have access to health care or education. 4,7 million children (nearly half of primary school age children) do not go to school. The unsafe situation in the countryside means there is little agriculture and therefore little food. This has led to exceptionally high mortality rates.



Children

According to UNICEF, 600 children die daily as an indirect consequence of the war. In addition, many children are directly affected by the conflict. They have lost family members, fallen victim of sexual violence, witnessed atrocities, were forced to flee or were recruited as child soldiers. In South Kivu, many people have fled the unsafe countryside and found refuge in the city of Bukavu. This has led to a further worsening of the situation in the city. Numerous children do not have enough care or protection and are victims of marginalisation and exploitation.

Children in armed groups
An estimated 12,000 children are members of armed factions or missing. Many child soldiers in DR Congo were kidnapped and forced to join an armed faction, mostly by local militias that roam the country plundering. Some children 'voluntarily' join armed factions as a result of the dire economic situation, in search of protection, or out of revenge for what was done to them. On some occasions, their families even encourage them to join an armed faction.


1 Human Development Index 2007: This United Nations index is a classification of countries based on their level of development (in terms of poverty, illiteracy, education, and life expectancy).
2 IRC Mortality Survey, January 2008.
3 Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, website  
4 UNHHCR 2007
5 UNICEF2006, Child Alert: Democratic Republic of the Congo, website  

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