So, what’s happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo now?
The rebel forces in the DRC pose worthy opponents for the Congolese government and the UN peacekeeping force. The DRC faces the threat of rebel groups and misguided militias, who are determined to fight the government and local enemies. These rebel groups are stationed in three primary areas: North Kivu, South Kivu, and Oreintale. All armed groups have contributed to violent attacks against civilians. Furthermore, there is compelling evidence that points to violence directed at specific ethnic groups, which is why the DRC is one of the Genocide Intervention Network’s areas of concern.
Laurent Nkunda’s rebel group called the National Congress for the Defense of People, or CNDP, already captured territories in the eastern DRC that the government and the UN have been unable to reclaim. Nkunda had been operating under the guise that he aimed to protect the Tutsi minority in Rwanda from the Rwandan Hutu militias; Rwanda, the DRC’s neighbour, even provided him with considerable support. However, his motivations extended beyond pure concern for his fellow man. Bosco Ntaganda is suspected to be the new leader of this group, following the arrest of Laurent Nkunda. On February 13, 2009, the UN relief officer stated that many displaced people may be able to return to their homes in the near future. This news was in light of the arrest of Laurent Nkunda, the former leader of a rebel group in the DRC and a new military campaign against another militia. With the expected deconstruction of this group, some displaced people may regain their homes, but the future remains uncertain.
Although the Congolese government, the CNDP, and over 20 other armed groups agreed to a peace agreement, this collaboration fell through in 2008, exacerbating the situation. Unless the roots of this problem are addressed, the conflict in the DRC will never end. The Congolese government needs greater autonomy over its territory and the manpower to protect its civilians. Moreover, something needs to be done to stop armed groups from benefiting from the illicit trade in natural resources and from unfounded alliances. If these areas of concern are not addressed, more lives will be lost and the social, political, and economic ramifications of the conflict may be irreversible. The mere fact that the mortality rate has elevated in the years following the formal end of war clearly indicates that it will take several years for the DRC to recover from its current fractured state.