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A brief history of Congo's wars

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Editor’s Note: This post is a brief history, intended to provide a contextual background for understanding the complex issues that the Enough Project works on. It is part of the series Enough 101.

Acronyms to Know:

  • RPF – Rwandan Patriotic Front
  • ALiR  – Army for the Liberation of Rwanda
  • AFDL  – Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire
  • MONUC – United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The First Congo War: October 1996- May 1997

The post-Mobutu phase of the Congo’s history cannot be understood without factoring in neighboring countries, and the 1994 Rwandan genocide was the spark that lit the regional fire. In the Rwandan genocide, Hutu-power groups (called the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi) led mass killings of Tutsis and pro-peace Hutus, murdering 800,000 people in approximately 100 days. 

In response, the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front, or RPF, overthrew the Rwandan Hutu government.

During and after the genocide, an estimated two million refugees, mostly Hutu, poured over Rwanda’s western border into the Congo.


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