Ancient roots of modern conflict.

Author:Ojulu, Epajjar
Position:Around Africa: DRC / Uganda

Eastern DRC has been a hot-bed of conflict for decades. The latest clashes in this unhappy region have led to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing to neighbouring Uganda and swelling the ranks of the displaced already in the country. This analysis by Epajjar Ojulu delves into the heart of the causes of the conflict.

The eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is once again in the spotlight. This time though, it is for the gravity of the violence and its effects on its neighbour, Uganda, which is shouldering the burden of having to take care of the thousands of refugees fleeing from the violence in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

They form an area unlike any other in DRC, Africa, or perhaps the world. While on the one hand it is blessed with enormous mineral wealth and other natural resources, on the other, it suffers from the curse of being a breeding ground for vicious conflicts. The causes range from ethnic animosity to insurgency, and from Islamic militants to sheer gangsterism. It is the only part of the country where the government in Kinshasa is unable to exert its authority.

The Interahamwe, blamed for the massacre of an estimated 800,000 Rwandans in 1994 fled there, as did the Ugandan Islamist militants, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). These groups joined other local warlords to fight for control of the vast wealth there.

For example, among the crimes warlord Bosco Ntaganda was found guilty of by the International Criminal Court in early July, were rape, sex slavery, killing innocent people and conscripting the young into his forces.

Prosecutors adduced evidence pinning Ntaganda, a Congolese of Rwandan origin and leader of a militia, the National Congress for the Defence of the People, to unleashing a reign of terror against a local population in his attempt to control the vast territory's mineral and natural resources.

As if man-made carnage was not enough, the outbreak of Ebola, currently the world's most dreaded and highly contagious disease, has caused more misery there. Estimates by the World Health Organisation show that the most recent Ebola epidemic, which began on 1 August 2018, had killed over 1,000 people by 3 May this year, with efforts to contain its spread being stymied by the insecurity. Some medical personnel have been killed.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kampala, the current conflict, which broke out in June this year, has killed at least 400 and displaced over...

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