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THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
The situation in the Congo is, in the words of President Obama, a “humanitarian catastrophe.” Indeed, by any measure, the Congo is one of the world’s least developed countries. The Congo is listed as one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, with 1,152 women and girls raped daily. The life expectancy of the average Congolese person is a little over 55 years due to the lack of sanitary water, medication, and health care. The Congo continues to be haunted by the presence of countless rebel groups, and is inhabited by the internally displaced people and refugees from neighboring countries. As a result, war, hunger, and poverty deter the DRC’s innate natural resources and talented young population.
Since 1960, when the Democratic Republic of the Congo (also known for a period as Zaire) achieved independence from Belgium, citizens have suffered without the guidance of a leader who had the interests of the Congolese people as a top priority. Dictator Mobutu Sese Seko’s reign consisted of corruption, human rights atrocities, embezzlement, and political oppression. Laurent-Desire Kabila, the rebel leader who claimed the Presidency from Mobuto, was also unable to provide sound solutions for the country. As a result, the people of the DRC still suffered thanks to war, poverty, and disease. When Kabila was assassinated in 2001, his son Joseph took over as president. The current situation has not improved, as evidenced by ambiguity and violence surrounding recent elections (won once again by Mr. Kabila). The young people in the Congo, ripe with potential to change the situation, are stifled by these political and economic conditions before they reach their potential.
The myriad of problems facing the Congo truly demonstrates need in almost every sector. We all have an interest in a peaceful, prosperous Congo because all of us are connected to one of the symptoms of the Congo’s lack of leadership.