For 30 years, conflict has plagued the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as rival armed groups fight for control of key mineral resources. The remote region has become off-limits to most foreign journalists – but a young generation of Congolese photographers is emerging to bear witness to not only the atrocities of war, but the population’s fierce desire to live.
According to the United Nations, the Democratic Republic of Congo has Africa’s highest number of internally displaced people – around 6.3 million.
Particularly hard-hit, the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri have long been plagued by armed groups, a legacy of regional wars and the fallout of the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda in 1994.
The Tutsi-led rebel group M23, allegedly backed by Rwanda, has captured swathes of territory since launching an offensive in late 2021, and driven over a million people from their homes.
The Norwegian Refugee Council has described the country as having one of the world's most neglected humanitarian crises.
Eastern towns like Goma are difficult to access due to lack of infrastructure. Journalists gather information as best they can but often have to rely on civilians’ WhatsApp messages and statements from armed groups, difficult to verify.
Other side of paradise
French journalist Maria Malagardis, author of the book Sur la piste des tueurs rwandais, (“On the trail of Rwandan killers”), knows the region well.
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