Armed conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II, with over 5.4 million people dead and more than three million displaced since violence broke out in the mid-1990s. Civilians have suffered the most, victim to both direct violence and secondary effects of the conflict, such as disease and hunger.
Armed groups and the Congolese army use rape and other forms of sexual violence as a weapon of war, instilling widespread fear among civilians and fracturing communities. Natural resources such as minerals, many of which are found in our electronic devices and jewelry, have fueled and continue to sustain violence in Congo. These resources are known as conflict minerals.
Mass atrocities in the form of direct attacks against civilian populations, mass rape of women and girls, forced labor, and forced recruitment of children into armed forces, have been committed and continue to be committed today. All sides of the conflict—the DRC’s army, neighboring government’s armies, rebel groups, and United Nations peacekeepers—have committed atrocities against the population.
Currently, the major challenge facing the DRC is the Presidential election crisis. According to the Congolese constitution, presidents may serve only two terms in office. The current President, Joseph Kabila, has already served two terms, and as such is constitutionally barred from a third term. However, Kabila refuses to relinquish power and shows no signs of stepping down. Elections are scheduled for November 2016, but Kabila has and continues to do everything he can to ensure that elections do not happen. Check our Blog and follow us on social media for the latest information on the situation in the DRC.
Watch this video from the Council on Foreign Relations for an overview of the DRC’s history and current challenges.