History of the Conflict: The Democratic Republic of the Congo
BBC: Country Profile: Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, or the Congo) is rich in resources, but the war that crippled it took 3 million lives and has been called the worst emergency to hit Africa in decades. Explore a detailed timeline and links to related stories in this profile, such as the deployment of child soldiers in the conflict.
International Crisis Group: Conflict History: The Congo
In the late 19th century, King Leopold II of Belgium pillaged what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo using indigenous forced labor. He turned the destroyed country over to Belgium in 1908, and it became independent in 1960. But the Congo was immediately fraught with conflict that has continued to this day, according to this history of the DRC by the International Crisis Group.
Columbia University Libraries: African Studies: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Find information not only on the DRC’s history but also on its environment, politics and culture at this Columbia University site that lists both popular and scholarly sources.
GlobalSecurity.org: Military: Congo Civil War
In 1996, war and genocide from Rwanda spilled over into the what was then known as Zaire and is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to GlobalSecurity.org, the war has directly affected the lives of 50 million Congolese. Learn more about the various combatant groups involved in “the widest interstate war in modern African history.”
Stop Violence Against Women: Organizations
Founded in 1992, New York-based Equality Now is a human rights organization dedicated to action for the civil, political, economic and social rights of girls and women. The organization works with individual activists and human rights organizations to document violence and discrimination against women and to mobilize international action in support of efforts to stop such human rights abuses.
United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
As the women’s fund of the United Nations, UNIFEM provides financial and technical assistance for innovative programs and strategies to foster women’s empowerment and gender equality. One of its core efforts is to end violence against women. With close partnerships, UNIFEM helps establish protective laws and national action plans and put in place mechanisms for the prevention of violence against women. WomenWarPeace: Democratic Republic of the Congo is a section of the UNIFEM website that features detailed information about the impact the conflict in the DRC has had on women.
Amnesty International: Stop Violence Against Women
Around the world, Amnesty International condemns and works to prevent violence against women, including those assaulted as a method of warfare. At the Stop Violence Against Women website, learn what Amnesty International is doing to protect women and how you can help.
As a global movement to stop violence against women and girls, V-Day works as a catalyst by promoting creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. It generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery. V-Day was founded by Eve Ensler, award-winning author of The Vagina Monologues and works in partnership with UNICEF. The website has detailed information about sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Center for Women Policy Studies
Founded in 1972, the Center for Women Policy Studies was the first feminist policy analysis and research institution in the United States. Its mission is to shape public policy around improving women’s lives and preserving women’s human rights. Stopping violence against women and girls is just one of the many issues on its agenda.
Current Situation in DRC (Articles and Watch Organizations)
CNN Inside Africa: “Lumo” filmmakers Nelson Walker III and Louis Abelman
Watch this video interview with two of the filmmakers from “Lumo.” Walker and Abelman talk about the making of the film and rape as a tool of war in the Congo. (November 6, 2007)
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN): Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Unrest continues in the DRC, and U.N. peacekeepers are still attacked in certain parts of the country; notwithstanding the violence, some displaced villagers are starting to return home. Keep up with what’s going on in the DRC with regular news from the IRIN, the United Nations’ media outlet.
Human Rights Watch: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Founded in 1978, Human Rights Watch is a human rights organization composed of researchers who conduct fact-finding investigations into human rights abuses around the world. At this section of the organization’s website, find the latest reports on progress and setbacks in human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as yearly reports, at this section of HRW’s site.
International Crisis Group (IGC): Democratic Republic of the Congo
According to the ICG, even five years after the official end of the war up to 1,000 people in the DRC die each day from conflict-related causes. This section of the ICG website includes a list of all of the organization’s recent reports and briefings on the situation in the DRC.
Newsweek: Congo’s Wounds of War: More Vicious than Rape
Although widespread systematic rape among civilian populations was no secret in the DRC’s civil war, it was only after the conflict was officially over that health and human rights experts began to understand just how prevalent rape and the resulting fistulas were. This report from Newsweek indicates that, unfortunately, attacks on civilian women — and fistulas — are not a thing of the past. (June 1, 2007)
Doctors Without Borders: International Activity Report: Democratic Republic of the Congo
As one of the most highly respected medical-aid NGOs in the world, Doctors Without Borders has access to health statistics that reflect on the overall situation in war-torn countries. The organization’s 2006 report covers its activities, including the opening of health-care clinics and treatment of cholera patients, in regions around the DRC. (2006)
BBC: Breathing Life into the Congo’s Sick Hospital
After years of gross mismanagement and minimal equipment due to looting, one hospital in the DRC is making a remarkable turnaround. But its new leader says, “It is still presumptuous to call this place a hospital.” (August 8, 2006)
The Guardian: “Fear of Fresh Conflict in Congo As Renegade General Turns Guns on Government Forces”
A powerful renegade Tutsi general has declared war on the DRC’s government, jeopardizing recent peace accords. The United Nations is responding by airlifting government troops into the eastern parts of the country. (September 3, 2007)
The Guardian: “Sliding Back into the Abyss”
This opinion piece states that thanks to recent conflicts between Congolese Tutsis and government forces in the eastern part of the DRC, “Within the blink of an eye, many of the elements of what was once called Africa’s world war were back with a vengeance.” (September 3, 2007)
Time Magazine: “The Deadliest War in the World”
The article points out that humanitarian aid for the Congo totalled approximately $9.40 per person last year, as compared with the tsunami relief fund, which totalled approximately $550 per person. The Congo is referred to as “among the worst places on earth.” (May 28, 2006)
Der Spiegel: “Strife-Torn Congo: Hunger, Rape and Violence”
One of Germany’s leading news magazines covers victims of violence in the eastern Congo in this slideshow. (May 11, 2006)
Ms. magazine: “Not Women Anymore …”: The Congo’s Rape Survivors Face Pain, Shame and AIDS”
Reporter Stephanie Nolan writes about the impact of rape upon communities in the Congo, delving in detail into how each armed rebel group has its trademark way of violating women. The article explains the diversity of rape perpetrators in the Congo and the difficulties encountered in treating rape victims due to medical barriers and the social stigma associated with rape. (Spring 2005)
Also on PBS & NPR
Wide Angle: “Democracy in the Rough”
This coverage of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC, or the Congo) first democratic elections in more than 40 years includes streaming video, an interactive map, and a photo essay on the troubled history of the DRC. In the October 2006 elections, the stakes were incredibly high given that the DRC is one of the most resource-rich countries in Africa yet its per capita income is about $100 per year.
NewsHour: “Democratic Republic of Congo Prepares for First Free Elections”
The DRC is preparing for its first free elections since independence in 1960. On Sunday, thirty-three candidates will be vying for the presidency, and another 9,000 for the 500 seats in the parliament. Watch the NewsHour‘s coverage in streaming video. (July 25, 2006)
FRONTLINE/World: Rough Cut: “Congo: On the Trail of an AK-47”
Reporter Benjamin Pauker follows the trail of an AK-47, which takes him from militia strongholds in the eastern Congo to the cloistered world of China’s arms manufacturers in Beijing. The report includes streaming video. (August 30, 2007)
FRONTLINE/World: Rough Cut: “Congo: Hope on the Ballot”
Independent journalist George Lerner covers the 2006 elections in the DRC. “Leaving for Congo, I wasn’t sure whether the Congolese would view the election with celebration or skepticism. After all, they have been let down by the promise of peace before,” he writes. The report includes streaming video. (November 15, 2006)
News & Notes: “Film Depicts Rape as Weapon of War”
Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt is the director of “Lumo,” a new documentary which shows how rape has traumatized women in Central Africa. The film follows Lumo, a woman who is brutally gang raped in the wake of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. But, despite many obstacles, she is determined to regain her health and her life. (September 18, 2007)
Morning Edition: “Women in Congo Face Violence, Desperation”
Fighting in the Eastern Congo has made life particularly hard for women, who must feed, clean and shelter their families despite being forced from their homes. Humanitarian agencies say many women also face a high risk of rape by rebel soldiers. And some girls turn to prostitution to escape poverty brought on by the civil war. Hear NPR’s Jason Beaubien. (July 7, 2003)
All Things Considered: “Systematic Rapes Reported in Congo”
A recent report from Human Rights Watch says “virtually all” of the armed groups operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s east, including the Congolese Army, have sexually abused civilians. The systematic rape of females is among war crimes allegations being investigated by the International Criminal Court in the Hague. (April 20, 2005)
All Things Considered: “Rape Used as Weapon in Congo’s Civil War”
There are reports that mutinous soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo raped women in Bukavu after seizing the city earlier this month. Rape has been a part of earlier conflicts as well. During the Congo’s civil war, which officially ended in 2002, rape and the fear of rape often kept women from working in the fields. Crops failed as a result, and many children died of malnutrition. NPR’s Jason Beaubien reports. (June 25, 2004)