The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is Africa’s third largest country and is home to over 75 million people.
Since 1998, violent conflict and poverty in the DRC have killed over 5 million men, women, and children—more than any war since World War II. More than 1.3 million people who have been forced from their homes live in crowded camps across the country.
The humanitarian crisis is especially severe in eastern Congo where in some areas two out of three women are survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence. Tens of thousands of children are recruited to become soldiers, and millions of people are denied the chance to earn a living due to continuing instability.
Eastern Congo Initiative was founded by Ben Affleck and other leading philanthropists to bring to light these atrocities, while advocating for action that will allow the people of Congo to forge their own path to stability and peace.
Despite overwhelming odds, there is hope across eastern Congo today. Communities are working together to create economic opportunities, and leaders from around the world are working in partnership with the people of the DRC for a new future for the region.
Did You Know?
With an estimated population of 75 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the fourth most populous country in Africa, and the 19th most populous country in the world. At 2,3 million square kilometers (slightly less than one-fourth the size of the U.S.), Congo is the second largest country in the African continent (after Algeria) and covers a land area larger than the Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway combined.
History of the Conflict
In the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed, millions of Rwandan refugees flooded into the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. As a new Tutsi government was established in Rwanda after the genocide, more than two million Hutus sought refuge in eastern Congo. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that only 7% of these refugees were perpetrators of the genocide — often referred to as Interhamwe or FDLR (the Federation for the Liberation of Rwanda).