Millions of Congolese Citizens Displaced in Conflict

Lucy Sheldon ’27

Staff Writer

The conflict within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recently peaked with a record number of citizens being displaced. The International Organization for Migration estimates that some seven million individuals have relocated due to the increase in violence between government-sanctioned forces and groups not affiliated with the state. The eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri of the DRC have most acutely felt the effects of this conflict with their residents being forced to migrate westwards or seek asylum in other African nations.

The conflict currently raging throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the reason so many have been forced to leave their homes, is the result of years of political repression and instability as well as conflicts over ethnic disputes, natural resources, the Congolese security forces, UN troops and the interests of foreign adversaries like the Kigali government of Rwanda. The abundance of resources present within the DRC includes diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, 3Ts (tin, tungsten and tantalum), oil and water. Many of these can be found within Apple cell phones, causing these resources to be in high demand and a primary source of conflict. In addition to the numerous civil conflicts within the DRC, there has been an onslaught of natural disasters as well as a depletion of available food. In spring 2023, cataclysmic flooding destroyed communities in South Kivu resulting in the destruction of at least 3,000 homes and the death of hundreds.

Over a decade ago, to subdue the conflict within the DRC, the United Nations placed peace-keeping forces on the ground. However, recently the Congolese government has expressed a desire for the United Nations to withdraw their forces, as they found UN’s forces have failed “to cope with the rebellions and armed conflicts.” The groups involved in this conflict include the rebel group Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) which is supported by the Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF), the Liberation Rwanda militia group and the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO). Additionally, Congolese officials have requested for the East African Community, an intergovernmental alliance of seven African states, to withdraw as a means of facilitating diplomacy and resolving this conflict between the M23 and DRC’s armed forces.

There are competing issues at large that have prevented any resolution from taking place to this ongoing conflict. The President of the Congolese government Felix Tshisekedi has ambitions of being re-elected, so to reform his image he has deflected blame for the current state of the DRC. Instead of handling it as a domestic national security issue, he attributes the devastation to the involvement of outside forces such as the UN Peacekeepers. Despite President Tshisekedi’s ambitions, it is unlikely an election will take place in the near future given the current conflict and displacement occurring throughout the country.

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