The civilian population in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has witnessed consecutive civil wars between 1996 and 2003 that have claimed an estimated five million lives, making it the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II. Despite repeated peace deals and strong United Nations presence, crimes are being perpetrated by armed groups operating in the eastern and north-eastern regions.
When the genocide in neighboring Rwanda ended in 1994, Hutu perpetrators fled from justice into the eastern provinces of the DRC, where they formed the Forces Democratique de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR).
The presence of genocidaires in eastern provinces prompted an invasion by Rwanda and Uganda which led to the overthrow of long-standing dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Laurant Desire Kabila, who led the rebellion to overthrow Mobutu, became President.
Kabila declared war on his former allies Rwanda and Uganda and the ensuing conflict from 1998 to 2002, which has been nicknamed “Africa’s World War,” drew in several neighboring countries as well as several other regional militias.
Despite various peace agreements, violence in DRC is ongoing and civilians continue to be targeted, particularly in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Orientale. Both government and rebel forces have been implicated in attacks on civilians. The ongoing violence takes many forms including mass killings, rape, and torture.