Crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Camille Mukoso, SJ

 Camille Mukoso, SJ / Politics / 20 July 2021


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For almost 25 years, the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has continued to make headlines for the large number of civilian victims and refugees. Today, the province of North Kivu has become the powder keg of Central Africa, trapped by a regional system of conflicts that has made Congo “the rape capital of the world.”[1] The murders of human rights activists, journalists and opinion makers and, more recently, of Italian ambassador Luca Attanasio, are just some examples that clearly demonstrate how insecurity in the eastern part of the DRC is more problematic than ever.

Beyond the visceral reactions that this sad reality may provoke, it is time to reflect, with clarity and serenity, to understand why the solutions that have been proposed and implemented so far to get the DRC out of this crisis have not produced the desired results. We can therefore ask ourselves why armed conflict persists there. Is the humanitarian aid provided to this tormented country succeeding in protecting the most vulnerable and in meeting the needs of the population in danger? What can be done to restore peace and stability in eastern Congo after long years of war?

To answer these questions, we will first show how the particular conflicted and complex picture of the war in DR Congo must be seen as inseparable from the functioning of social and political structures in the country, as well as the consequences of the genocide in Rwanda and the two Congolese wars (1996-97 and 1998-2002). Then we will question as to the reasons why the humanitarian aid given to the Congolese to restore peace in their country has not produced the desired results. Finally, we will propose, as a solution to get Congo out of the quagmire into which it has sunk, an inclusive dialogue for peace, like that of the Sovereign National Conference of 1990-92.

History of a war with many faces

The DRC became independent on June 30, 1960, with the promise of a bright future because of the many favorable elements it enjoyed: an immense national territory, good quality arable land, a growing population and important natural resources. The Congolese  inhabit a country situated on the equator, with an area of 2,345,903 square kilometers.[2] This territory, crossed by the majestic Congo River,[3] offered, and still offers, many opportunities for agriculture, livestock farming, fishing. With more than 35 percent of the land arable and fertile, large fresh water reserves, considerable rainfall in a hot and humid climate, Lumumba’s[4] country was clearly in a better situation than many other newly independent states.

 

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