The Neglected Problems of The Democratic Republic of Congo

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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has topped the charts for the country with the highest rates of crime in the world, according to the Global Crime Index.

The country has seen a substantial rise in young men joining armed gangs who have vast control over various parts of the nation.

Kidnapping, human trafficking and drug smuggling is among the major problems in DCR, leading to the country having the highest crime rate in the world in 2023.

A 2011 report also stated that up to 1000 women are raped everyday nationwide.

For over 60 years, the central African state has endured horrendous activities that seem to fly under the radar in the west.

This goes all the way back to the beginning of the ‘Congo Crisis’, where DRC gained independence from the colonization of Belgium.

The country had made little to no preparation for what was to come after independence, which sparked an internal conflict within the government and civilians, eventually leading to the dictatorship of Joseph Mobutu. Over 100,000 people died in the Congo Crisis from 1960 to 1965.

During his tenure, poverty became rife in DCR and Mobutu had amassed a personal fortune of over $5 billion by selling DCR’s natural resources for his own pockets.

He also officially changed the country’s name to Zaire in 1971. Eventually, the people of Zaire had enough, and this therefore sparked a civil war from 1996-1997.

In 1997 the government was overthrown, and the country was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2022, there was an uproar of conflict between M23 armed rebellion group and the government in the eastern region of the country, which resulted in a mass loss of lives and humanitarian displacement.

The conflict has escalated even further in the last few months, with the UN stating that a record high of 6.9 million people are internally displaced.

Detailed map from United Kingdom Foreign Office of safe and unsafe travel regions of DRC

It comes as no surprise that the whole east coast is marked as ‘advise against all travel’.

Last year, Congolese Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr Denis Mukwege, criticized the UN for not doing enough to prevent Rwanda’s supposed “support for M23”.

Boot stepping on blood-stained step beside flag of Democratic Republic of Congo. Image Credit- Shutterstock

Rwanda still denies any involvement with M23.

In October, the UN envoy to Great Lakes Region raised concerns over potential direct conflict between DCR and Rwanda, citing an increase in military personnel at the border between the two nations.

In May this year, the South African Development Community agreed to deploy military assistance to the east of DCR for the uproar of the December elections, however in June the UN announced a withdrawal of the peacekeeping mission.

 United States saw this decision as ‘premature’, however not one western nation seems to be willing to prioritise any type of support to DCR in their time of need.

With tensions in Gaza at its peak now, it is important that conflicts such as the one in DCR don’t go under the radar. There are thousands of people dying and millions of people affected in DCR who would benefit with western intervention against these armed militant groups such as M23.

Below is a link to the International Rescue Committees website, which supports Congolese families at this difficult time. They explain more in detail exactly what they do, and how donations can be made.

https://help.rescue-uk.org/drc-se-match-ye?utm_source=google&utm_medium=ppc&utm_campaign=fy24_yearend&utm_content=donatetocongo2x&gad_source=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-eDYnMT9ggMVjZNQBh1CIQqxEAAYAyAAEgKrOfD_BwE

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