The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has struggled with political and social instability since independence from Belgium in 1960. From 1998 onward it was the epicenter of a conflict dubbed Africa’s World War, which involved nine countries, killed an estimated 5.4 million people and left hundreds of thousands of missing.
By June 2012 UNICEF estimated that 2.2 million people had been internally displaced in the eastern DRC as a result of the conflict.
In addition to a sizable population of internally displaced citizens the DRC has large numbers of refugees from the Central African Republic, Rwanda, and Burundi. At the same time, as many as 450,000 DRC citizens are believed to be refugees in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Accusations of genocide and war crimes have been leveled against many of the 20 or so armed groups involved in the fighting.
The UN is helping to train forensic experts in the DRC to examine mass graves. In one area alone, it is alleged that mass graves containing 49,000 bodies have been found.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has sought to help families restore contact with loved ones and has maintained a register of missing children.
The UNHCR works with the Government’s National Refugee Commission (Commission Nationale pour les Réfugiés) to register refugees and help them reconnect with their families.