Resurgence of Violence in the DRC: 12-Month Outlook

Summary

In mid-March of 2022 violence reignited along the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. The DRC is home to the worst internal refugee crisis in Africa and a variety of violent factions. Both the DRC and Rwanda are keen to blame each other for the violence. Additionally, the UN does not have the money to help 84% of the refugees. As a result, it is highly likely that the situation will only get worse over the next six months. Additionally, it is a realistic possibility that Rwanda will deploy troops in the DRC without authorization. The Rwandan president has stated that he is considering this avenue. Lastly, there is a realistic possibility that China will intervene in some manner if fighting threatens its investments. In 2008 China invested US$9 billion in the DRC through their Belt and Road initiative.

Refugee camp in Lusenda, South Kivu, DR Congo. (Credit: MONUSCO Photos)

KJ-1. It is highly likely that the DRC’s refugee situation will only get worse over the next 12 months.

  • The DRC is currently home to 5.6 million internally displaced people. Since November of 2021, 170,000 civilians have been displaced due to fighting in the east. (Source)
  • The UNHCR, the branch of the UN responsible for refugees has only 16% of the required US$225 million needed. As a result, there is little to no support for most refugees. (Source)
  • A lack of support for the refugees has led to exposure to cholera, malaria and other diseases. Additionally, many buildings are being repurposed to house refugees including schools which is halting the education of children. (Source)
  • The Rwandan and the DRC’s governments have done little to solve the refugee crisis. As a result, the two governments have been pointing fingers at each other for responsibility. Initially, the DRC claimed that M23 is a Rwandan back rebel group. Conversely, Rwanda claims that the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) is backed by the DRC. While the governments argue both groups continue to incite violence along the border region. (Source)

FADCR soldiers on patrol. (Credit: MONUSCO Photos)

KJ-2. There is a realistic probability that Rwanda will deploy troops in the DRC without permission in the next 12 months.

  • The Rwandan president has stated that there is an increased threat coming from the DRC in the form of militant groups. As a result, Rwanda’s president has stated that he is considering deploying troops in the eastern DRC without the DRC’s president’s approval. (Source)
  • The DRC is host to several foreign militaries combating rebel factions along its borders. Also, the US has sent a contingency of special operations troops to hunt down rebels in the DRC’s nature preserves. Uganda purportedly strongarmed president Tshisekedi into letting their forces cross the border into the DRC. (Source)
  • Burundi has allegedly deployed troops across the border without permission already. Subsequently, residents of the Congolese city of Uvira reporting seeing about 400 Burundian soldiers cross the river into DRC. (Source)

KJ-3. If the conflict begins to move south in the next 12 months, there is a realistic possibility that China will intervene to protect its mining interests.

  • The DRC is home to 70% of the world’s cobalt resources. Cobalt is a critical element in the production of both consumer and defense technologies. (Source)
  • The DRC is home to 17 cobalt mining operations. As a result of decades of buying out other international firms, China owns 15 out of the 17 mining operations. (Source, Source)
  • In 2008 China made a US$9 billion deal with the country to build infrastructure in exchange for mineral rights in the Katanga province. The province is in the southeast, just south of where the rebels are located. (Source)

Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 20th of June 2022

Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan is currently working on his undergraduate degree at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He is majoring in International Politics with a concentration in Security Studies and a minor in Russian language.

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