The DR Congo is two thirds the size of Western Europe
It is surrounded by nine countries: Congo; Central African Republic; Sudan; Uganda; Rwanda; Burundi; Tanzania; Zambia; Angola
Ituri District is the size of the UK and there are few roads and no tarmac!
The DR Congo is victim to what is commonly referred to as ‘the resource curse’. The country is still recovering from the deadliest war since World War 11, which claimed over 4 million lives and neighbouring countries and the international community still compete to control its natural resources. With the biggest rainforest outside the Amazon, and abundant minerals, it has 70% of the world’s coltan, vital for use in computers and mobile phones.
Despite having the largest UN peace-keeping mission in the world, rebel groups from Rwanda and Uganda continue to perpetrate atrocities on civilians, leaving 1.5 million homeless. Bribery and corruption are rife among civil servants and army alike. According to recent UN statistics, the DRC has the highest levels of deprivation of any country in the world. Only 9% of the population has access to electricity, 1 in 5 children die before their 5th birthday. Malaria and lack of fresh water are the biggest killers.
Eastern DRC is described as ‘The World’s worst place to be a woman’. Sexual violence is rife. Most mothers give birth without any medical help, often resulting in fistula – the most devastating and serious of all childbirth injuries. Many are young girls. The baby is unlikely to survive. If she survives, a woman with fistula is likely to be rejected by her husband because of her inability to bear more children and her serious hygiene issues. IPASC arranges for women throughout the Ituri District to receive surgery, so they can return to the communities from which they have been ostracised.