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An LRA for Everyone: How Different Actors Frame the Lord’s Resistance Army

January 5, 2015 Comments off

An LRA for Everyone: How Different Actors Frame the Lord’s Resistance Army
Source: African Affairs

During the last decade, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) became a regional problem in the border area of the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic, involving multiple national and international actors. This article explains why these actors often present diametrically opposed images of the LRA instead of developing a unified vision. More specifically, the article discusses how the Ugandan and Congolese governments and armies, and the US government and advocacy groups, each frame the LRA differently. These various frames are influenced by the actors’ interests and by the specific historical development of political relations between them. Politically influential constituencies played a significant role in this endeavour. In the US, lobby groups such as Invisible Children, Enough, and Resolve had an important impact on the way in which the American government framed the LRA. Conversely, the lack of such a powerful constituency in the LRA-affected countries gave these governments ample space to frame the LRA in a variety of ways. The lack of reliable information about the current capacities of the LRA, combined with the LRA’s lack of a strong and coherent image, further contributed to this situation. In short, the ways in which the LRA is framed enabled these key actors to pursue goals that may remain distant from the reality of the LRA.

CRS — Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and U.S. Policy

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Conflict, poor governance, and a long-running humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) present a range of challenges for international policy makers, including Members of Congress. Chronic instability in the mineral-rich and densely populated east of the country has caused widespread human suffering and inhibited private sector investment throughout the wider Great Lakes region of central Africa. Congolese political actors have displayed limited capacity and will to improve security and governance, while neighboring states have reportedly periodically provided support to rebel groups in DRC.

Country Analysis Brief: Congo (Brazzaville)

January 30, 2014 Comments off

Congo (Brazzaville)
Source: Energy Information Administration

Congo (Brazzaville), formerly known as the Republic of the Congo, is a mature oil producer with declining output at most of its fields. Congo’s economy is heavily dependent on its oil production as it accounted for almost 87% of the country’s export revenues and almost 80% of the government’s total revenue in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A vast majority of oil and natural gas exploration and production activities in Congo are conducted offshore.

Congo holds sizable proved natural gas reserves, but only small amounts are commercialized because of the lack of infrastructure. Congo also may hold large oil sands deposits (petroleum deposits of bitumen also known as tar sands) and Eni, an Italian oil company, recently launched a feasibility study. If the project is undertaken, it would be the first tar sands project in Africa.

Congo also has extensive hydropower potential, but most of it remains untapped. Despite Congo’s rich energy resources, the electrification rate is low, especially in rural areas, mainly because of a lack of electricity infrastructure. According to the latest (2010) estimate from the World Bank, 37% of the country has access to electricity, leaving more than 2.5 million people without access.

Controlled Trial of Psychotherapy for Congolese Survivors of Sexual Violence

June 7, 2013 Comments off

Controlled Trial of Psychotherapy for Congolese Survivors of Sexual Violence
Source: New England Journal of Medicine

Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common in survivors of sexual violence. In high-income countries, there are effective treatments for trauma related to sexual violence, but these treatments have not been adequately tested in low-income, conflict-affected countries with few mental health professionals and low literacy rates. The few studies of effectiveness have had methodologic limitations, including a lack of controls and high attrition rates.

Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is a low-income, conflict-affected region in which political and economic instability are ongoing problems and nearly 40% of women have experienced sexual violence. The development of effective mental health services has important implications for the recovery of sexual-violence survivors in the Democratic Republic of Congo and similar countries.

We evaluated an adaptation of group cognitive processing therapy provided by community-based paraprofessionals (psychosocial assistants), supervised by psychosocial staff at a nongovernmental organization (NGO) and by clinical experts based in the United States. Cognitive processing therapy has shown efficacy in high-income countries, with effects lasting for 5 or more years. We evaluated the benefits of adding this therapy to services offered by workers trained only in case management and individual supportive counseling.

Mineral resources and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

July 22, 2012 Comments off

Mineral resources and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute

Civil wars inflict considerable costs on countries which may be trapped in vicious cycles of violence. To avoid these adverse events, scholars have attempted to identify the roots of civil wars. Valuable minerals have been listed among the main drivers of civil conflicts. Yet, despite the large body of literature, the evidence remains mixed. This paper provides a spatially nuanced view of the role of mineral resources in civil wars in the particular case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We estimate the impact of geolocated new mining concessions on the number of conflict events between January 1997 and December 2007. Instrumenting the variable of interest with historical concessions interacted with changes in mineral international prices, we unveil an ecological fallacy: Whereas concessions have no effect on the number of conflicts at the territory level (lowest administrative unit), they do foster violence at the district level (higher administrative unit). We develop a theoretical model wherein the incentives of armed groups to exploit and protect mineral resources explain our empirical findings. A spatial analysis of the effect of mining concessions on conflict backs our proposed theoretical explanation.

Country Analysis Brief: Congo (Brazzaville)

December 15, 2011 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Congo (Brazzaville)
Source: Energy Information Administration

Congo is a mature oil province with declining production; however, new offshore oil fields have recently reversed this trend and boosted production over the past three years. Congo has benefited from oil resources off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, which also feeds much of the production of neighboring countries.

Congo is the fourth-largest oil producer in Africa that is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), after Egypt, Sudan, and Equatorial Guinea. Although Congo is among the largest oil producers in Africa, Congo’s production has little impact on world oil supply relative to larger African producers, since oil production in the region is heavily concentrated in the African OPEC countries (Nigeria, Algeria, Angola and Libya).

Categories: Congo, energy

Resource Wars and Conflict Ivory: The Impact of Civil Conflict on Elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo – The Case of the Okapi Reserve

November 11, 2011 Comments off

Resource Wars and Conflict Ivory: The Impact of Civil Conflict on Elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo – The Case of the Okapi Reserve
Source: PLoS ONE

Human conflict generally has substantial negative impacts on wildlife and conservation. The recent civil war (1995-2006) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) resulted in a significant loss of wildlife, including elephants, due to institutional collapse, lawlessness and unbridled exploitation of natural resources such as minerals, wood, ivory and bushmeat. We used data from distance sampling surveys conducted before and after the war in a protected forest, the Okapi Faunal Reserve, to document changes in elephant abundance and distribution. We employed Generalized Additive Models to relate changes in elephant distribution to human and environmental factors. Populations declined by nearly fifty percent coinciding with a major increase in elephant poaching as indicated by reports of ivory trade during the war. Our results suggest that humans influenced elephant distribution far more than habitat, both before and after the war, but post-war models explained more of the variation. Elephant abundance declined more, closer to the park boundary and to areas of intense human activity. After the war, elephant densities were relatively higher in the centre of the park where they were better protected, suggesting that this area may have acted as a refuge. In other sites in Eastern DRC, where no protection was provided, elephants were even more decimated. Post-war dynamics, such as weakened institutions, human movements and availability of weapons, continue to affect elephants. Survival of remaining populations and recovery will be determined by these persistent factors and by new threats associated with growing human populations and exploitation of natural resources. Prioritizing wildlife protection, curbing illegal trade in ivory and bushmeat, and strengthening national institutions and organizations in charge of conservation will be crucial to counter these threats.

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