Democratic Republic of Congo

  1. DR Congo rebel sentenced to life in prison

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A rebel leader in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Chance Mihonya, an army deserter, set up a rebel group in 2017 in the Kahuzi Biega National Park. He was arrested last year.

    A mobile military court set up near the city of Bukavu found him guilty of kidnapping and torturing dozens of people from several villages in the park.

    He was also convicted of recruiting child soldiers and exploiting the country's mineral reserves.

    Rights groups say more than a hundred different armed groups operate in eastern DR Congo, where the UN says more than a million people have been forced from their homes this year by violence.

  2. Jordanian arrested in DR Congo over alleged IS links

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    The government in the Democratic Republic of Congo says it has arrested a Jordanian national for alleged ties to an Islamist militia in the east of the country.

    This comes amid concern that the Islamic State group has been trying to strengthen ties with the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) - an Islamist armed group originally from Uganda.

    The ADF has been blamed for frequent attacks against civilians.

    The Reuters news agency says it has seen documents which confirm the arrested man was in charge of the ADF's drones, although they suggested he was from Saudi Arabia.

    Although the rebel group has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, UN experts say they have not found conclusive evidence of close links between them.

    Read more about the ADF: The Ugandan rebels working with IS in DR Congo

  3. French police ban DR Congo star's Paris concert

    Werrason performing on stage
    Image caption: The arena where Werrason was supposed to perform tweeted that the tickets are refundable

    Authorities in France have banned a Congolese musician’s Paris concert scheduled for 25 September because of security concerns, warning it poses a threat to public order.

    In a statement the Paris police chief said Werrason’s Zénith Arena gig could ignite tensions between different political factions of the Congolese diaspora in France.

    "The concert is taking place in a particularly tense and violent political context between supporters and opponents of the current regime," Didier Lallement is quoted as saying by French radio station RFI.

    The statement goes on to say that Werrason – whose real name is Noël Ngiama Makanda – is viewed as close to Congo’s President FélixTshisekedi, as well as his predecessor Joseph Kabila.

    Werrason has tried his hand at a political career before. In the 2018 elections he was an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate for Mr Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC).

    In 2011 Werrason had to cancel two concerts due to threats of disturbances, according to the police statement.

    Werrason is not the only artist opponents of the Congolese regime have targeted in France. There was violence on the sidelines of Latin singer Fally Ipupa’s February 2020 concert, according to RFI.

    Werrason has not yet commented on the cancellation, but just a week ago he assured fans that security services would be present at the event.

  4. Mass rape of Congo prisoners during riots - activists

    Emery Makumeno

    BBC News, Kinshasa

    A woman walks past a placard saying 'End Rape Culture'

    Campaign group Human Rights Watch says the authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo repeatedly ignored security warnings which preceded a prison riot last year in which inmates raped dozens of female detainees, including a teenage girl.

    About 2,000 detainees of Kasapa prison in the city of Lubumbashi rioted in September 2020, setting fire to buildings and attacking female inmates for three days.

    Several of the victims became pregnant and some contracted HIV.

    Security forces reportedly shot dead at least 20 people during the riot.

    A year on, Human Rights Watch has called for an investigation so that those responsible for the abuses are prosecuted.

    It says survivors must be given medical care and mental health support.

  5. Police raid DR Congo opposition media house

    A private television station owned by a Democratic Republic of Congo opposition politician has been raided by police.

    The Radio Television Satellitaire (RTVS1), is owned by the co-ordinator of the Lamuka opposition coalition, Adolphe Muzito.

    It was raided on Wednesday after a demonstration organised by the coalition.

    The secretary of the television station, Patrick Kanga Kutu, said the police wanted to arrest journalists who covered the protests.

    Two cameras and motorcycles were reportedly impounded by the police.

    Mr Kutu has demanded the return of the equipment seized by the police.

    Actualité.cd and RFI journalist Patient Ligodi was also arrested while covering the protests, local media report.

  6. The CIA in post-colonial Africa

    Video content

    Video caption: How African independence was stifled by America’s interference.

    How African independence was stifled by America’s interference.

  7. DR Congo martial law fails to stop killings

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Military police escort General Constant Ndima after he took office as military governor of North Kivu province,
    Image caption: Analysts say the military has not increased its operations to improve civilian protection

    Human Rights Watch says the imposition of martial law in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has failed to stop rebel attacks and that hundreds of civilians have been killed in recent months.

    President Félix Tshisekedi handed greater powers to the military in May in an effort to improve security in Ituri and North Kivu provinces.

    The rights group says that since then, over 600 civilians have been killed – with most attacks blamed on the ADF rebel group.

    The Congolese security forces killed 67 civilians.

    It says many people across eastern Congo still live in constant fear of the next massacre.

    Analysts say the military has not increased its operations to improve civilian protection.

    Across the two provinces the violence has forced 3.5 million people to flee their homes.

  8. Former DR Congo health minister freed on bail

    Emery Makumeno

    BBC News, Kinshasa

    Fomer Democratic Republic of the Congo's Health Minister Eteni Longondo
    Image caption: Dr Eteni Longondo has always denied embezzling Covid funds

    A former health minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr Eteni Longondo, has been freed after spending 17 nights in Kinshasa’s main prison.

    The former minister was released on bail on Tuesday, according to his lawyer, Hugues Pulusi Eta.

    He faces accusations of embezzling $6m (£3m) funds allocated for the fight against Covid pandemic while in office between 9 September 2019 and 28 April this year.

    He was sent to jail on 27 August after a five-hour hearing at the prosecutor's office.

    An ally of the current President Felix Tshisekedi, Dr Longondo has always rejected the accusation.

    It is not clear yet when his trial will begin.

    His predecessor, Dr Oly Ilunga, is currently serving a five-year sentence, after he was found guilty in March last year of misappropriating funds meant for fighting the deadliest Ebola outbreak in DR Congo.

  9. DR Congo president takes jab after rejecting AstraZeneca

    Emery Makumeno

    BBC News, Kinshasa

    President Félix Tshisekedi and First Lady Denise Nyakeru received the Moderna jab in a clinic at state house
    Image caption: Vaccine hesitancy in DR Congo is high

    The Democratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi has had a Moderna Covid-19 vaccine months after turning down an AstraZeneca jab over fears that it wasn’t safe.

    DR Congo politicians have been reluctant to promote the use of vaccines.

    Only about 1% of the population has been vaccinated.

    In July, President Tshisekedi said he did not want to take the AstraZeneca jab because of concerns about blood clots, but would take another one when it became available.

    He added that he had lost relatives to the disease, and vaccines were the best way forward.

    DR Congo last week received its first batch of about 250,000 doses of Moderna.

    Official data says just over 1,000 people in DR Congo have died as a result of the virus.

    The country faces many health challenges including a meningitis outbreak that has killed at least 120 people since July.

  10. Nobel winner wants international court for DR Congo

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Denis Mukwege
    Image caption: Denis Mukwege won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018

    A Nobel peace laureate from the Democratic Republic of Congo has called for the establishment of an international criminal court for his country following 25 years of conflict.

    The gynaecologist, Denis Mukwege, described the violence perpetrated by dozens of armed groups in the east of the country as intolerable, with people living in fear and horror.

    He said investigators should exhume mass graves and preserve evidence of what he said were likely to be war crimes.

    Dr Mukwege has treated hundreds of women who have been raped and sexually mutilated by militiamen.

    Aid groups say more than five million people have died as a result of the conflict.

    The UN says one million people have been displaced this year alone, and 25,000 human rights abuses recorded.

  11. Outbreak as meningitis kills 120 in DR Congo

    Rhoda Odhiambo

    BBC health reporter, Nairobi

    Testing for menengitis
    Image caption: Meningitis is a potentially fatal disease

    An outbreak of meningitis has been declared in the north-eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    So far, more than 120 people have died from the disease.

    The first cases in the DR Congo were reported in July. More than 100 people are receiving treatment at home and in health facilities.

    The outbreak has been difficult to contain because of the community's beliefs that it is linked to witchcraft, the World Health Organization (WHO) has told the BBC.

    Samples shipped to France for screening found out that the bacterium responsible for this outbreak had the potential to cause large epidemics.

    Many have died and the community's unresponsive nature is partly to blame for the high mortality rates being reported.

    Instead of seeking treatment, some people moved from one place to another hoping that the disease would not follow them.

    The DR Congo government and the WHO have now deployed a team to the north-eastern province of Tshopo to contain the situation.

    The province is part of the “African meningitis belt” that runs across the continent from Senegal to Ethiopia – covering 26 countries.

    Some of these regions are vulnerable to recurrent outbreaks especially during the dry season – from January to July.

    Meningitis, a potentially fatal disease, is transmitted among people through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions from infected people.

  12. DR Congo students banned from school over sex tape

    Six secondary school students from the Democratic Republic of Congo have been banned from attending any school in the country after a sex tape they filmed was shared widely, Actualite Congo website reports.

    The students were expelled following a directive by Education Minister Tony Mwaba.

    The video was filmed outside their school in the capital, Kinshasa, but shows them wearing their school uniforms.

    Fve school boys and one girl can be seen in the video.

    Human Rights Minister Albert-Fabrice Puela has however said the ban contravenes children's rights.

  13. DR Congo receives 250,000 Moderna vaccines

    Emery Makumeno

    BBC News, Kinshasa

    Health workers in the vaccination room during the COVID-19 vaccination campaign on May 5, 2021 in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.
    Image caption: Less than 0.1% of people in DR Congo have had a coronavirus jab

    The Democratic Republic of Congo has received 250,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine donated through the global Covax programme.

    It is the first time the country has received a vaccine other than the AstraZeneca jab.

    President Félix Tshisekedi himself was reluctant to take the AstraZeneca jab and promised to take a different one once they were available.

    This first Moderna batch of 250,000 doses, which arrived on Monday, is part of the six million different vaccines that the central African country has been waiting for since last July.

    Since the launch of the immunisation campaign against Covid-19 on 19 April, less than 100,000 people have received a jab.

    DR Congo is one of the countries where vaccine reluctance is high.

    More than 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines had to be disposed of when they expired last June and July.

  14. At least 30 killed in DR Congo attack - UN

    BBC World Service

    UN officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say it's now known that at least 30 people were killed in an attack in the north-east of the country last week.

    Earlier reports said 14 civilians had been killed in a village Luna-Samboko in Ituri province on Friday.

    Local officials say members of the Islamist militant group, the Allied Democratic Forces, are suspected of having carried out the attack.

  15. Twelve die in DR Congo from Angola toxic mine leak

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A leak from a reservoir last month caused a river to turn red
    Image caption: A river turned red last month after a leak

    Nearly 4,500 people have fallen sick in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo following a toxic leak from a diamond mine in neighbouring Angola, the environment minister says.

    Eve Bazaiba said 12 people had died.

    She said the DR Congo would ask for reparations for the damage caused but did not specify an amount.

    There has been no response so far from the mining company.

    Last month's leak from a reservoir containing heavy metal by-products caused a river to turn red, killing fish, hippos and other animals.

  16. Logging threatens Congo biodiversity - campaigners

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    This photograph, taken on September 28, 2019, shows the crops bordering Virunga National Park, northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo. - In North Kivu province, illegal logging is one of the main threats to the conservation of Virunga National Park and its trade is an important source of income for armed groups
    Image caption: DR Congo is known for its high levels of biodiversity

    Environmental groups have warned of a climate and biodiversity catastrophe if the Democratic Republic of Congo lifts a moratorium on new industrial logging permits.

    Last month, the DR Congo government said it planned to end the ban which was imposed 19 years ago.

    Campaigners said more than one-million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest growing on peat swamps could be handed over to loggers.

    If disturbed the swamps could release more than 10-billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, worsening global warming, they said.

    Endangered species including gorillas, forest elephants and okapi would be under threat.

  17. Eighty missing after DR Congo militia attack

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Officials in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo say about 80 people are missing after a militia ambushed a convoy, killing at least three people and setting fire to 16 vehicles.

    The attack in Ituri province has been blamed on the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

    The convoy was being escorted by the army and UN peacekeepers due to insecurity along the main highway linking Ituri with North Kivu province.

    The ADF is an Islamist group accused of killing thousands of people in recent years.

  18. Delayed national exams begin in DR Congo

    At least 600,000 students in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) are sitting for their final secondary school examinations.

    This is after a two-month delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    The four-day examination has kicked off across the country.

    DR Congo's school year has 220 days but it was heavily disrupted by the pandemic.