SEATTLE, Washington — For years, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has received U.S. foreign aid that supported humanitarian issues, stabilized local and national economies and aided peace efforts with neighboring countries. While crime, internal conflict and government corruption rages in the DRC, U.S. foreign aid is more crucial now than ever in preserving peace and stability in DRC.
The Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The DRC is located in the heart of central Sub Saharan Africa. Filled with repletive natural resources, including copper, gold and diamonds, the DRC is one of the world’s largest untapped economic ventures. Despite being one of the largest copper and cobalt excavators globally, the DRC is one of the least developed countries, with 63% of the population living under the global poverty line. Moreover, the DRC experiences high rates of crime and corruption.
The government and opposing militias committed some of the most destructive and counterproductive crimes in DRC. Militia-led violence is largely in response to recent issues with the government. In 2016, President of DRC Joseph Kabila ignored a two-term limit explicit in the Congolese constitution. Violent protests erupted when Kabila failed to organize elections later that year. State Security Forces killed 48 citizens protesting Kabila’s actions.
The Congolese government also commits serious humans rights violations. According to UNWatch, the Congolese government neglects due process and free, fair elections, freedom of expression, fairness toward women and minorities, and perpetuates and institutionalizes corrupt politics. Corruption within government institutions has spurred on violence, which in turn, created economic problems.
Militia Violence and Economic Stability
Militia violence also impacts local jobs and industries in the DRC. In 2017, the conflict between militias and Congolese troops prompted a suspension of gold mine operations in Namoya, where Banro Corp., a large gold mining corporation, resides. The suspension hurt the DRC economy as Banro Corp. provides many Congolese with stable employment. According to Banro Corp., Congolese citizens occupy 95% of all management, professional, skilled and administrative jobs. The industry also accounts for about 44% of the Congo’s GDP. Because industries like Bonro Corp. play such an essential role in the Congolese economy, ending militia-led violence is an important key in maintaining a stable economy.
These recent conflicts have disrupted the DRC’s government and economic stability. Since 2016, internal conflicts have displaced nearly 4.5 million people in the DRC. The mass amount of displaced people in the DRC added an additional strain on the Congolese government.
Providing Aid to the DRC
The U.S. recognizes the struggles of the Congolese people and continues to support the DRC through U.S. foreign aid programs. In 2019 alone, the DRC spent more than $600 million of U.S. foreign aid. Humanitarian assistance makes up more than 50% of the DRC’s U.S. foreign aid. This sector provides protection and assistance for those in need and finds long-term solutions for displaced peoples.
In 2018, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), an organization that provides U.S. foreign aid, announced an increase in humanitarian assistance for the DRC. The increase in funding was upwards of $60 million and was specifically aimed at providing food, shelter, protection and healthcare for displaced Congolese. This announcement was in response to the recent conflicts in the DRC and the urgent need for humanitarian assistance. USAID estimates that approximately 13 million people in the DRC require critical humanitarian aid. Additionally, USAID hopes to support the Congolese financially, help the DRC see its first-ever peaceful democratic transfer of power and assist in promoting fair elections.
Increasing U.S. foreign aid for the DRC is essential for the country’s peace, stability and democracy. With the financial support of the U.S., the DRC can rid itself of the conflict that sickened its government and people, and enter an era of prosperity and democracy.