The Democratic Republic of the Congo, a.k.a. the DRC, or more commonly “the Congo”, has experienced an endless nightmare of violence, poverty, famine, sickness, and murder for the past 16 years. The constant bloodshed between the national and armed forces has led to countless civilian deaths, or the genocide in the Congo. Before I go on any further, I must explain what a genocide is. A genocide is the attempted destruction of an entire group of people. The most famous example is the Holocaust in which 6 million Jews were murdered during World War II. It is tragic to say that history has repeated itself and over 5 to 7 million Congolese civilians have lost their lives since 1996. In order to truly understand the events that are transpiring at this very moment, we must look back in the past to the root of this problem, see what is going on at this moment, and try to do something to help stop these atrocities.
According to BBC News, The Congo’s troubles started back in the early 19th century, when Belgium colonized the Congo and enslaved its citizens. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when the Congo finally gained its independence, however Joseph Mobutu came to power in 1965 and let the nation (renamed Zaire) fall apart due to his exploitation of the land’s abundance of natural resources (BBC News). In 1994, the Genocide in Rwanda occurred, were the dominant Hutu extremists slaughtered 800,000 ethnic Tutsis in Rwanda (ECI). According to the ICRtoP, the exiled Hutu extremists found refuge in Zaire and allied themselves with Mobutu. Rwanda and Uganda later invaded Zaire that year in what was known as the “First Congo War”, resulting in the overthrow of Mobutu, the installment of Laurent-Desire Kabila (who renamed the country to the DRC), and the Rwandan and Ugandan occupation of Zaire.
The Eastern Congo Initiative states that in 1998, Kabila demanded that the Rwandan and Ugandan forces leave the Congo for fear of the annexation of mineral rich territories. This led to led to another war in which the Congo and its neighbors helped drive out the occupying forces. This war involved 9 different countries, resulting in it being called “Africa’s First world War” (ECI). The war lasted for 5 years and took place entirely in the Congo, resulting in the deaths of 5 million Congolese civilians, most to to starvation or sickness (BBC News). The Congo never recovered, and to this day, Eastern Congo is unstable (BBC News).
In 2001, Kabila was assassinated, leading to him being replaced by his son Joseph Kabila (ECI). According to the Eastern Congo Initiative, the Congo held its first democratic elections in 2006, with Kabila being elected. At the same time, however, multiple armed groups gained power and began fighting over control of mineral resources in the Eastern Congo, resulting in more civilian lives. To this day they still continue to fight, and despite multiple peace treaties, the violence does not end (ECI).
At these moments, life in the Congo is a living...