The Democratic Republic of Congo is almost as large as Eastern Europe and the third biggest country in Africa. The four Eastern provinces – South Kivu, North Kivu, Ituri, and Maniema – and the countries they border (Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi) have been the scene of multiple conflicts at local, national and regional levels for at least a decade.
East DR Congo’s enormous mineral wealth has largely failed to transfer better living conditions to the local population; whilst corruption, state weakness and the sheer size of the territory all present opportunities for various armed groups, both state and non-state, to engage in human rights abuses against civilians and plunder of natural resources. Since the outbreak of violence in DR Congo, at least 4 million people are estimated to have been killed and 2.5 million forced to flee their homes. East DR Congo also hosts the largest and most expensive UN peacekeeping mission in history, MONUC (United Nations Mission DR Congo).