Hiding from an endless war

Mads Nissen


The on-going civil war in DR Congo has now claimed more than 5.4 million lives. Killing, rape, starvation and lack of health care are daily threats to a population that can’t expect to live beyond 48.

Though DR Congo has the second poorest population in the world, the country is also among the richest in terms of natural resources, a fact that might be the very source of the endless bloody civil war.

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  • The Congo River.

  • Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where women and girls of all ages arrive with considerable damage after violent rapes and assaults committed by, among others, the militias and national army FARDC.

    Congo is one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a woman, with catastrophically high rates of rape perpetrated by all sides. Over 200,000 women and girls in Eastern Congo thought to have been raped since 1998.

  • Victim of rape.This 32 year old anonymous woman was raped repeatedly by soldiers from the national army (Forces Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo (FARDC)). The assault was committed when she and two other women were on their way to a nearby market to sell some small pieces of gold that they had excavated from the ground themselves. The soldiers stole their gold and raped the three women, one of which was later killed.

  • A young anonymous girl, age 15, breastfeeds her baby. She lives with her mother and sister in a UN camp for internally displaced people in Kichanga. The three women have each been raped, even several times. As a result of the rapes the two daughters both became pregnant and are now raising their own babies. According to the women the rapes were committed by the CNDP militia and the national army FARDC. The rest of the family members, young and old, have all been killed in terrifying sadistic manners. At one point the grandmother was asked to drink the blood of one of her children that they just killed. She denied, saying that she would prefer death.

  • Public transportation in central Kinshasa.

  • Illegal and unpolished diamonds are sold in a small street market in central Kinshasa. These diamonds come from the eastern part of D.R. Congo - a region hardly effected by violent conflict. These diamonds are most certainly what are also described as 'blood diamonds'.

  • A woman in an up-scale night club in Bukavu with a clientele of local rich kids and prostitutes. The most troubled and violent region in the whole country is the eastern part. But here along the green hills surrounding the cities of Goma and Bukavu one will not only find extreme poverty but also extreme richness with fertile land filled with gold, diamonds and other valuable minerals.

  • Anonymous boy (age unknown to himself, but approximately 17 years old) who was forcibly recruited by FLDR, a Rwandan militia.

    After several years with the militia, he managed to escape only a few days ago. Now he is sheltered at a Red Cross sponsored children's home in the town of Bukavu.

  • Bukavu. Even though the country is extremely rich in natural resources , most cities like Bukavu are equally poor with bad or no infrastructure, makeshift houses and most people living below the poverty line.

  • 46 year old Banziziki Mabimana walks on his crutches in the early morning hours at a UN camp for Internally displaced people in Kichanga, near Goma in eastern D.R.Congo. His entire left leg is a large festering wound. The refugees in the camp has only access to very limited medical care.

    According to recent figures from the UN refugee organisation UNHCR, there are currently 1.7 million Internally displaced people in the country. UNHCR provides for 72,000 people in tent camps like this one. Many of these camps become permanent homes for many people since they are unable to return home. Several armed militias operates actively in the area, some of them within the camps.

  • This anonymous boy used to be enrolled in a militia operating in eastern D.R. Congo. More than twenty armed groups operate in this region and the use of children as porters, cooks, soldiers or sex-slaves is widespread.