The country had its first democratic election in 40 years in 2006. Even though the election was carried out under orderly conditions, there are major failings in democracy and respect for human rights. Democratization in DR Congo has only just begun.
War rages on in the eastern part of DR Congo, where various armed groups and government forces battle against each other. As long as the war continues, most Congolese will remain poor. Income from the illegal extraction of raw materials is being used to finance the war. More than 1 million people are displaced in their own country and many also flee to other countries.
The conflict in the east and the post-conflict situation that exists in the rest of the country is strengthening the unequal relationship of power between men and women. Many women and girls in the country have been subjected to sexually-related violence and violations.
The fight against sexual violence is an important part in the work for equality in Congolese society. The society is traditionally unequal and there are dowries, forced marriages and polygamy. Female representation in politics and within public institutions is very low. At the same time, women account for 75 per cent of food production in the country.
Dependent on exports
The global financial crisis has hit the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country that depends on the export of raw materials, hard. A lot of effort is needed to build up the country’s economy. The strategy for poverty stakes out important goals along the way.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was called Zaire between 1971 and 1997. The country’s capital is Kinshasa and the country is also sometimes referred to as Congo-Kinshasa.
In April 2009, the Swedish government decided on a new strategy for Sweden’s cooperation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Here are the three focus areas:
- peace, reconciliation and democratic governance
- poverty-oriented economic development, with a focus on agriculture and forestry
- health, with a focus on preventing, handling and combating sexual violence, as well as promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Sweden also supplies large-scale humanitarian development aid through Sida.
Many remember the outbreak of war in Rwanda in 1994. The conflict between the Tutsi and the Hutu rages on in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This Channel 4 feature contains a summary of the conflict’s history.
The humanitarian efforts in DR Congo are extensive. On the portal RDC-Humanitaire (in French) you can follow the work, co-ordinated by OCHA. United Nations large mission in DR Congo MONUSCO summarizes all activities. International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.. Follow their reports.