Democratic Republic of Congo

  1. Green energy 'profiting on back of Congo miners'

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A cobalt miner in Kolwezi, DR Congo - 2022
    Image caption: More than 70% of the world’s cobalt is extracted in Kolwezi

    Human rights campaigners are calling on companies to increase the pay for impoverished miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are digging up cobalt - an essential commodity in the production of electric cars.

    Huge mining companies engaged in the switch to greener energy are making multi-billion dollar profits, while the Congolese workers digging for cobalt are falling further into poverty.

    That is the warning from two human rights groups - the UK’s Raid, and Cajj, which is based in southern DR Congo near Kolwezi where most of the world's cobalt is mined.

    Food prices there have been soaring and the campaign groups say most miners are being paid much less than the $480 (£390) a month they need to support their families.

    They want the mining giants, including those from Europe and China that operate DR Congo’s industrial mines, to pay more, and electric vehicle companies to end contracts with cobalt suppliers exploiting miners.

    “The switch to clean energy must be a just transition, not one that leaves Congolese workers in increasingly desperate living conditions,” Cajj’s Josué Kashal said in a statement.

  2. Militia execute 17 hostages in DR Congo hotspot

    Djugu territory
    Image caption: Djugu territory in Ituri Province has been the scene of clashes between armed groups

    The Codeco militia group on Sunday executed 17 people it had captured in the Djugu territory, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The victims were passengers aboard four vehicles heading to Mungwalu, in Ituri province, UN-sponsored Radio Okapi reported.

    They were taken hostage after three Codeco members were killed in a clash with a rival militia, the radio added.

    Among those taken hostage was a pregnant woman, AFP news agency reported.

    Local authorities are yet to comment on the attack.

    The Codeco, a militia that claims to protect the Lendu farming community in Ituri, is one of a myriad of armed groups operating in the restive, mineral-rich region.

  3. Ex-DR Congo militia leader appointed minister

    The Newsroom

    BBC World Service

    Former Vice President Bemba spent ten years in the International Criminal Court (ICC) prison for crimes committed by his troops in Central African Republic.
    Image caption: Jean Pierre Bemba, a former Congolese vice-president, was once convicted of war crimes before being cleared on appeal

    The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, has appointed a former militia leader, once convicted of war crimes, as his new defence minister.

    Jean Pierre Bemba, a former Congolese vice-president, was cleared on appeal by the International Criminal Court in 2018.

    He was convicted of failing to prevent his militia from committing crimes.

    His appointment comes as the Congolese army battles the M23 rebels in the east of the country. Rwanda is accused of backing the M23 rebels but denies it.

    Mr Tshisekedi also appointed his former chief of staff, Vital Kamerhe, as minister of economy. Mr Kamerhe was convicted of embezzlement but freed on appeal last year.

    The changes comes as the country is due to go to the polls in December in which Mr Tshisekedi is expected to run for re-election.

  4. Thousands flee from Islamist rebels in DR Congo

    BBC World Service


    Deogratias Kasereka, the chief of the village of Mukondi, searches the remains of a house burned down during an attack attributed to the ADF in Mukondi, about 30km from the town of Beni, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo - 30 March 2023
    Image caption: Homes were burned down by the rebels in the attacks last week - this is Mukondi village, 30km (18 miles) from Beni

    Aid workers in Ituri province in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo say thousands of displaced people have been arriving in the town of Beni.

    They are fleeing a series of attacks by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) Islamist rebels in the province.

    More than 90 people have been killed over the past week in attacks on at least 18 villages.

    Attempts by the armies of DR Congo and Uganda to crush the rebels have made little progress.

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  5. Congolese guitar supremo Lokassa ya Mbongo dies

    Jacobs Odongo Seaman

    Music journalist

    Lokassa ya Mbongo
    Image caption: Lokassa is reputed for hits such as Bonne Annee, Monica, and Marie-Josse, as well as medleys Lagos Night and Nairobi Night

    Congolese rhythm guitarist Lokassa ya Mbongo has died, his long-time friend and fellow guitarist Ngouma Lokito has said.

    Lokassa, who was 77, died on Tuesday night at a hospital in Nashua in New Hampishire, US, where he had been living since 1996.

    Late last month, fellow guitarist Dally Kimoko told the BBC that Lokassa's health was fragile as he was battling diabetes and complications from a mild stroke he suffered in 2020.

    Born Denis Kasiya Lokassa in 1946, the rhythm guitarist, arranger and composer was one of the founders of Soukous Stars alongside fellow guitarists Ngouma Lokito (bass) and Dally Kimoko (lead), and vocalists Yondo Sister, Ballou Canta, Neil Zitany and Shimita.

    The band, formed in Paris in 1989, battled for attention during the Soukous explosion of the 1990s with Aurlus Mabele’s Loketo.

    Lokassa is reputed for hits such as Bonne Annee, Monica, and Marie-Josse as well as medleys Lagos Night and Nairobi Night – songs that he punctuated with his layered rhythm textures around which Dally Kimoko’s lead hits the octane.

    Lokassa, who did not sing, started playing professionally rather late compared to most Congolese musicians of the time. His family refused to let him play music, which was then considered a basement undertaking.

    He was 22 in 1968 when he joined Tabu Ley Rochereau’s then African Fiesta Nationale, where he spent 10 years in near obscurity alongside more prominent guitarists such as Attel Mbumba, Mavatiku Visi, and Dino Vangu.

    Growing frustrated with himself, Lokassa lost patience and in 1978 broke loose from Tabu Ley during a tour of West Africa.

    Alongside guitarist Dizzy Mandjeku and drummer Ringo Moya, he teamed up with singer Sam Mangwana in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to form the African All Stars.

    The group’s hit, Suzana Coulibaly, brought out the best in Lokassa with his guitar eruptions coming to full effect in the faster tempo.

    West Africa was the getaway to Paris. Having already worked with prominent producers such as Ibrahim Sylla, Lokassa found his way to Paris in 1984 – as a "sans-papiers" (someone with no proper travel documents).

    With no residence card, Lokassa was unable to tour or make recording dates outside France.

    “I was stuck in Paris. It was really very, very difficult. People needed for me to come to the United States, other continents, even to other countries in Africa. But people couldn’t see me because I didn’t have papers,” Lokassa told James Winders, author of Paris Africain, Rhythms of the African Diaspora.

    But everything changed in 1989 when Ngouma Lokito rang him up and suggested his “big brother” put together a group to help them emerge from the status of session performers.

    Lokassa worked the phones and Soukous Stars was born later that year.

  6. Alert as threat of volcanic eruption looms in DR Congo

    Nyamulagira volcano
    Image caption: Nyamulagira volcano, seen here in 2011, is among Africa's most active volcanos

    Volcanologists say they have observed a glow at the top of the Nyamulagira volcano in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

    It's been caused by a movement of lava at shallow depths towards the central crater of the Nyamulagira volcano, according to the latest data.

    Nyamulagira's last major eruption was in 2011 - its biggest eruption in 100 years.

    It is located right in the middle of Virunga national park, which is also home to endangered mountain gorillas.

    If a fresh eruption happens, the lava would flow towards the park, the Goma Volcano Observatory warned on Monday evening.

    There are currently no threats to the city of Goma, where around 670,000 people live according to UN estimates.

    But volcanic ash and strands of cooled lava could be blown by wind into inhabited areas, the observatory added in a statement.

    "We recommend that the people of Goma keep calm and go about their business freely," it said.

    Residents have been urged to wash vegetables and use stored water, while airlines have also been told to consider the wind direction when flying over the Virunga region.

    In May 2021, tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the city of Goma after Mount Nyiragongo erupted.

  7. At least 17 killed by ADF rebels in east DR Congo

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    DR Congo army and UN forces escort civilian vehicles on the Beni-Komanda road near Walese Vonkutu on March 19, 2022.
    Image caption: The international response has been to send in more soldiers

    Suspected rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces have killed at least 17 people in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo - the second mass killings in less than a week.

    They also set fire to buildings during the dawn raid on Kirindera in North Kivu province.

    On Wednesday, 45 people were killed during a raid on two villages by the same rebels - who are said to have links to the Islamic State group.

    Peace talks have been tried, but the international response to the crisis in eastern DR Congo is to send in more soldiers.

    The Ugandan army has been in North Kivu to fight the ADF rebels for over a year but without success.

    Last week alone the ADF killed dozens of civilians in three villages.

    There has also been a lot of attention on the M23 rebels who are widely reported to be backed by Rwanda. Kigali has always denied the accusations.

    Angola is now sending troops to North Kivu. Kenyan and Burundian soldiers are also there.

    The hope is these countries are united against all the rebel groups and don't turn on each other to exploit DR Congo's minerals - as has happened before.

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  8. Clashes in DR Congo days after ceasefire

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    The first aid plane has arrived in the city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the EU's new operation to help hundreds of thousands of people displaced by conflict there.

    It comes after clashes in the region between the army and M23 rebels - three days after a ceasefire was supposed to have begun.

    The fighting is around the village of Murambi which is less than 30km (18 miles) from Goma, the capital city of North Kivu province.

    The M23 rebels are widely reported to be backed by Rwanda which has long accused the Congolese authorities of failing to defeat Hutu rebels - some of whom are linked to the Rwandan genocide.

    Rwanda denies backing the group.

    Map of DR Congo
  9. Dozens killed in ADF militant attack in DR Congo

    The Newsroom

    BBC World Service

    A convoy of FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo) soldiers
    Image caption: The governor of North Kivu has called for deployment of more troops

    The governor of North Kivu province in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo says at least 36 villagers have been killed in an attack by a rebel group.

    Carly Nzanzu Kasivita posted on social media that the village of Mukondi had been burnt to the ground by the ADF, which allies itself with Islamists but seems more intent on exploiting the region's mineral riches.

    He called for more troops to be deployed to neighbouring villages south of the city of Beni to prevent further attacks.

  10. Italian diplomat's killing: 'Call for death sentence'

    The prosecution in the trial of six men charged with the murder of Italy's ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2021 has asked for the death penalty to be imposed on them, AFP news agency has reported.

    Luca Attanasio was killed in conflict-hit eastern DR Congo when gunmen ambushed a UN convoy in which he was travelling. A local driver and an Italian police officer were also killed.

    Prosecutor Bamusamba Kabamba said the victims had been kidnapped and "dragged deep into the forest before being killed", AFP reports, adding that the accused had been portrayed at a previous hearing as kidnappers who wanted a ransom of $1m (£845,000).

    The accused are being tried by a military court. Five of them are in detention and have denied the charges. The sixth is on the run, and is being tried in absentia, AFP reports.

    DR Congo has not executed anyone since 2023, though courts still hand down death sentences.

  11. DR Congo hit by fighting despite ceasfire

    The Newsroom

    BBC World Service

    Fighting is continuing between the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo and M23 rebels in violation of Tuesday's ceasefire.

    Local media said there were clashes on several fronts in the eastern province of North Kivu.

    The rebels are reported to have seized a number of villages, including Karuba which is around 30km (19 miles) from the regional capital Goma.

    The army has accused M23 of shelling UN peacekeepers and Burundian soldiers from an East African force recently deployed in an effort to stop the violence.

    The rebels say they want a peaceful solution but have the right to defend themselves if attacked.

  12. DR Congo 'attempt' to delay polls angers opposition

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    French President Emmanuel Macron and President of Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo attend Kinshasa Economic Forum in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo on March 04, 2023.
    Image caption: DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi (R) told the French president that the conflict in the east may delay the elections

    The opposition in the Democratic Republic of Congo has expressed outrage over President Felix Tshisekedi's "attempt" to postpone the 20 December general elections over persistent insecurity in the east.

    "The situation in the east of the country should not constitute an excuse for the president to postpone the elections," Cherubin Okende, the spokesperson for opposition politician Moise Katumbi is quoted by the French broadcaster RFI as saying

    Mr Okende reminded Mr Tshisekedi of the promise he made in the early days of his presidency to set up the army headquarters in the east in an effort to effectively deal with armed groups.

    "Four years later, the regime is still unable to restore peace in this part of the country," he said.

    Opposition leader Martin Fayulu, said that according to article 70 of the constitution, the president is elected for a five-year term. "Come 23 January 2024, Tshisekedi must vacate his post," he said.

    The two opposition politicians were reacting to Mr Tshisekedi's remarks to French President Emmanuel Macron that the conflict in the east may delay the elections.

    However, critics believe various challenges could be used as an excuse by the ruling coalition to justify the postponement of the elections.

  13. Aid workers say ceasefire broken in DR Congo

    Aid workers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo say clashes are continuing between the army and M23 rebels despite a ceasefire agreement.

    They said there was fighting on at least two fronts.

    The M23 said it was committed to a peaceful solution but would continue to defend itself if attacked by the Congolese military or its allies.

    The M23 and the army have accused each other of launching attacks on Monday, which led to significant civilian displacement.

    Rwanda denies backing the M23 which has captured large swathes of territory over the past year and is threatening the regional capital, Goma.

  14. Ceasefire called in eastern DR Congo

    BBC World Service

    An M23 rebel in eastern DR Congo on 23 December 2022.
    Image caption: It is not clear whether it is being respected (archive photo)

    A ceasefire has taken effect in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, although it is not clear whether it is being respected.

    The UN Secretary General has urged the M23 rebel group to stop fighting and withdraw from captured territory.

    The rebels launched fresh attacks on Congolese army positions on Monday, seizing a town and several villages.

    Rwanda denies backing the M23 which has captured large swathes of territory over the past year and is threatening the regional capital Goma.

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  15. DR Congo rebels urged to abide by ceasefire pledge

    Richard Kagoe

    BBC News

    M23 rebels
    Image caption: M23 rebels have recently been withdrawing from areas they have captured

    The UN Secretary General has urged M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo to respect a ceasefire agreement set to come into effect on Tuesday.

    Antonio Guterres has welcomed regional and international efforts led by the Angolan president and the African Union to try to stop a conflict that has displaced hundreds of thousands already.

    Hours before the ceasefire brokered by Angola takes effect, heavy fighting between the Congolese army and the M23 group has continued in North Kivu province.

    The UN Secretary General has condemned all violence against civilians and urged all armed groups to lay down their weapons and disarm unconditionally.

    Mr Guterres has asked the M23 to honour a pledge to cease hostilities to facilitate full and effective withdrawal from areas it has occupied, some near Goma, the biggest city in the east of the country.

    The ongoing conflict has displaced hundreds of thousands in the past year and led to accusations that Rwanda is funding the rebels, which Kigali denies.

  16. Southern Africa's top brass assess DR Congo security

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    M23 rebels leaving Rumangabo camp in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in January.
    Image caption: It's widely known that the M23 rebels are backed by Rwanda

    Military officials from the southern African regional block, SADC, are in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to assess security at a time when there is increased international attention on the conflict there.

    The EU has just announced an operation to fly in aid to help the hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced since M23 rebels relaunched a rebellion several months ago.

    A decade ago a SADC military operation helped drive M23 rebels out of the country.

    We don't know if this latest inspection will lead to yet more boots on the ground, but it's a sign of a growing international dimension to the conflict.

    As well as more than 12,000 UN peacekeepers, Kenya and other east African countries have also sent in soldiers.

    A ceasefire is due to begin in a couple of days.

    But the key to stopping at least some of the violence will be improving the relations between DR Congo and Rwanda which is widely known to be backing the M23 rebel group. Rwanda, however, denies this.

    Related articles:

  17. Burundi sends troops in fight against DR Congo rebels

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A map showing Burundi, plus DR Congo and North Kivu province.

    Burundi says it is deploying about 100 soldiers to North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where dozens of armed groups are fighting.

    They are to join a regional East African force - which also includes soldiers from Kenya.

    It was deployed in November following the resurgence of the M23 rebel group which Rwanda is accused of backing but the Kigali government denies.

    The rebels are due to withdraw by the end of the month from areas they have captured.

    Previous deadlines have been missed and there have been recent demonstrations in eastern Congo by people who want the East African force to take a more aggressive stance against the rebels.