Civilians in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo remain victims of mass killings, severe torture and widespread rape at the hands of numerous armed groups operating in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Orientale.  Conflict in the DR Congo has resulted in an estimated 5.4 million civilian deaths since 1996, making it the deadliest conflict since WWII.

While the two Congo wars (1996-1997, 1998-2003) officially ended in 2003, peace remains elusive to this day. The largest and most expensive United Nations peacekeeping mission in the world, with more than 20,000 personnel and an annual budget of US$1.4 billion, has not been able to end the conflict. The Eastern part of the country, in particular, remains beset by instability, as militias, like the LRA, M23 and FDLR rebel groups, continue to wreak havoc on the population.

Armed groups earn hundreds of millions of dollars every year by trading conflict minerals. These minerals are in all our electronics devices.  Government troops and militias fight to control the mines, murdering and raping civilians to fracture the structure of society.

Armies and police should exist to protect civilians, but in eastern Congo they are among the primary perpetrators of murder, rape, torture, and extortion. The Congolese National Army, or FARDC, and the Congolese National Police, or PNC, are corrupt and ineffective, preying on the communities they're supposed to protect.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, 160 women are raped every week in North and South Kivu, eastern Congo. A report by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative showed that 60% of rape victims in South Kivu were gang raped by armed men, more than half of the assaults took place in the victims' homes, and an increasing number of attacks were being carried out by civilians. Eastern Congo is known as the most dangerous place on Earth to be a woman as rape is a often used as a weapon of war.

After months of intense fighting in North Kivu, the M23 occupied Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, on November 20, 2012. On December 1, 2012, the M23 withdrew from Goma and agreed to peace talks with the Government of the Congo. The negotiations, which lack transparency and international involvement, have stalled due to political differences and failed communication between all parties involved.

Information provided by our partners at the Enough Project.

Reports on Democratic Republic of the Congo