The Democratic Republic of the Congo, in French: République démocratique du Congo, R D C, also known as DR Congo, DRC, Congo, Congo-Kinshasa, DROC, Zaïre 1965–97, is a country located in Central Africa. It borders the Republic of the Congo-Brazzaville, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan to the north, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the East, Zambia and Angola to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world. The size of Congo, 2,345,408 square kilometres (905,567 sq mi), is slightly greater than the combined areas of Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. As a result of its equatorial location, the DRC experiences high precipitation and has the highest frequency of thunderstorms in the world, the second largest rain forest in the world (after the Amazon). This massive expanse of lush jungle covers most of the vast, low-lying central basin of the river, which slopes toward the Atlantic Ocean in the west. This area is surrounded by plateaus merging into savannas in the south and southwest, by mountainous terraces in the west, and dense grasslands extending beyond the Congo River in the north. High, glaciated mountains are found in the extreme eastern region (Rwenzori Mountains). The rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo contain great biodiversity, including many rare and endemic species, such as the common chimpanzee and the bonobo, the African forest elephant, mountain gorilla, okapi and white rhino. Five of the country’s national parks are listed as World Heritage Sites: the Garumba, Kahuzi-Biega, Salonga and Virunga National Parks, and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most biodiverse African country. Most park wardens were either killed or could not afford to continue their work. All sites are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage in Danger. With a population of over 75 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populous officially Francophone country, the fourth most populous nation in Africa and the nineteenth most populous country in the world; a beautiful country destroyed by Civil wars, civil wars resulting in poor economic conditions , wars that have endangered much of this biodiversity.
The Congolese Civil Wars, beginning in 1996, brought about the end of Mr.Mobutu’s 31 year reign, devastated the country, and ultimately involved nine African nations, multiple groups of UN soldiers and other armed groups.
The wars resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people since 1998, and still counting; nearly half of the victims were children under five. As of 2013, according to the Human Development Index (HDI), DR Congo has a low level of human development, ranking 186 out of 187 countries. Since 2009, people in the Congo may still be dying at a rate of an estimated 45,000 per month, and estimates of the number who have died from the long conflict range from 900,000 to 5,400,000.
There have been frequent reports of weapon bearers killing civilians, destroying property, widespread sexual violence, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes or otherwise breaching humanitarian and human rights law. A new study says more than 400,000 women are raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo every year, the war situation has made the life of women more precarious. Violence against women seems to be perceived by large sectors of society to be normal. In July 2007, the International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concern about the situation in eastern DRC. A phenomenon of displacement has developed, where people hasten at night to safety. According to Yakin Ertürk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women who toured eastern Congo in July 2007, violence against women in North and South Kivu included “unimaginable brutality”. "Armed groups attack local communities, loot, rape, kidnap women and children, and then, make them work as sexual slaves," Ertürk said.
Although the horrific levels of sexual violence and millions of people displaced from their homes and schools, it remains the world’s forgotten war and rarely makes the headlines of the world’s media.
It’s time to take action now if you are touched and would like to help, please feel free to contact us; we have survivors here in Colorado that are willing to share their experiences from the D R Congo.