Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo
At least seventy armed groups are believed to be currently operating in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Despite the stabilizing presence of nineteen thousand UN peacekeepers, the stronger militant groups in the region, like the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), continue to terrorize communities and control weakly governed areas of the country, financing their activities by exploiting the country’s rich natural resources. Millions of civilians have been forced to flee the fighting: the United Nations estimates that currently there are at least 2.7 million internally displaced persons in the DRC, and approximately 450,000 DRC refugees in other nations.
In addition to the violence caused by armed groups, President Joseph Kabila has caused further political instability by indicating a possible desire to delay the upcoming 2016 election and to stay in power after his term ends. In December 2015, Kabila called for “political dialogue” with opposition parties, but the police have violently cracked down on internal dissent. This includes the November 2015 use of tear gas against student protesters and the breakup of a January 2015 protest, in which police fired shots and killed over forty people. In September 2016, forty-four people total were killed during protests and government security forces burned down the headquarters of the main opposition party.
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