Q&A: DR Congo's M23 rebels


The M23 rebels have brought havoc to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since April 2012 but have now ended their insurgency after the government said they had been defeated.

At least 800,000 people have fled their homes and at one point, there were fears a new regional war could break out, with accusations that Rwanda and Uganda were backing the rebels - charges both countries denied.

The advances by the Congolese army follow changes in the military structures and the intervention of a brigade of UN troops with a tough mandate.

Understanding DR Congo

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Eastern DR Congo is awash with a variety of different rebel groups. This is a snapshot of their locations in late 2012. Some have come from neighbouring countries, while others have formed as self-defence groups. Many are taking advantage of the lack of a strong state to seize control of the area's mineral riches.
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The Democratic Republic of Congo covers 2,344,858 square km of land in the centre of Africa, making it the 12th largest country in the world.
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With an estimated population of 75.5 million, DR Congo is the fourth most populous country in Africa. Some 35% of the population live in cities and the capital Kinshasa is by far the largest, with more than 8 million inhabitants. DR Congo has around 200 ethnic identities with the majority of people belonging to the Kongo, Luba and Mongo groups.
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DR Congo has abundant mineral wealth. It has more than 70% of the world's coltan, used to make vital components of mobile phones, 30% of the planet's diamond reserves and vast deposits of cobalt, copper and bauxite. This wealth however has attracted looters and fuelled the country's civil war.

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