An unimaginable situation

An estimated 5.4 million people dead since 1998

Around 1 million people made homeless

Rape used as a systematic weapon of war

Until recently, a fragile peace had seen some people begin to return to their homes, though many more continued to remain in camps.

But renewed violence has forced some 200,000 people to flee their homes since August 2008. Reports indicate that another 20,000 men, women and children have been displaced in recent weeks (October 2008).

The five-year conflict

The 1998-2003 conflict in the DR Congo saw huge loss of life. Four million people died, some as a direct result of the violence, but many more from starvation and disease.

The war was between government forces, backed by Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia, and rebel factions, supported by Rwanda and Uganda.

Fighting was fuelled by the DR Congo’s vast mineral resources and by the flow of small arms into the country.

Continued instability

Despite the signing of a peace deal in 2002, and democratic elections in 2006, there is still instability in the east of the country.

Since the end of August 2008, intense fighting has resumed between government forces (FARDC) and the rebel CNDP, leaving the peace process that began in Goma in January 2008 in tatters. This fresh wave of violence, culminating in an armed standoff outside the town on 29 October, has forced hundreds of thousands more people from their homes in a region where over a million were already displaced, and has hampered access to very many of those affected. in oxfam.org.uk