How did it start?
The crisis began in earnest in mid-2016. A tribal chieftain, known as Kamwina Nsapu, called for an insurgency in the Kasai region after the Congolese government refused to recognize his authority in his province. Nsapu demanded that his followers expel all Congolese security forces from the region. After months of tensions, security forces killed Kamwina Nsapu in an August 2016 raid; his followers pledged to avenge his death and stepped up their attacks on government institutions.
Where is the crisis?
The crisis is centered in the Kasai Central province, one of the poorest areas of Congo, which is itself ranked 176 out of 188 countries in terms of human development by the U.N. Kasai Central is also an opposition stronghold in Congo; the longtime leader of the main opposition party, Etienne Tshisekedi—who died in February —was born in Kananga, the provincial capital. The impact of the crisis has also spread to four surrounding provinces of Kasai; Kasai Oriental; Lomami; and Sankuru.
How many people have been displaced? Where to?
More than 1.3 million people have been displaced by the violence, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council report. In May, some 8,000 people per day were forced to leave their homes. More than half the refugees remain in the Kasai Central province; many of them are children who have been recruited into armed groups. But 30,000 Congolese have also fled into Angola in the past two months. The U.N. expects that figure to rise to 50,000 people by the end of the year. Besides the displacement, the Council also found that more than one in 10 schools in Kasai Central had been closed due to the fighting.
The conflict is also growing increasingly bloody. The Catholic Church in Congo, one of the few national institutions which is viewed favorably by the Congolese people, said Tuesday that at least 3,383 people had been killed so far in the conflict. That figure is a huge escalation on previous U.N. estimates, which have put the death toll at around 400. The church said that government security forces had wiped out 10 villages, while Kamwina Nsapu militia fighters had destroyed four settlements.
What happened to the U.N. experts?
Michael Sharp, an American, and Zaida Catalan of Sweden went missing on March 12 in a remote village in Kasai Central. The pair were investigating alleged abuses committed by both sides in the conflict. More than two weeks later, their bodies were found in a shallow grave outside Kananga.
The Congolese government blamed their deaths on the militia and produced video evidence that purported to show their killings by followers of the Kamwina Nsapu. But Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has called for an independent inquiry by the U.N. after growing criticism of the Congolese government’s inquiry. Congo has opposed an international inquiry.
PLEASE SEE THE ARTICLE IN ITS ORIGINAL FORMAT: http://www.newsweek.com/refugees-africa-congo-war-joseph-kabila-627538