Global Background - RAW Refugees
The Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a large country located in the center of Africa. Its population is about seventy million, and the main languages spoken are French, Lingala, Kiswahili, Kikongo, and Tshiluba. The Congo is known for its exports in diamonds, which has created much of the political unrest and fighting in the country.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, European merchants engaged in slave trade though the kind og the Kongo empire. It was not until 1960 that the Congo became an independent country. Since then, the country has broken ties with Belgium and faced multiple attempts at succession, which has created chronic instability. The Rwandan Genocide, which occurred just across the border in 1997, turned the Congo into a battlefield.
For further information, read National Geographic's article "The Price of Precious" by Jeffery Gettleman at: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/conflict-minerals/gettleman-text
Central African Republic
Central African Republic is a small country located in the heart of Africa. Most of the land is savanna plateau with some rain forests in the south. Most of the population is involved in subsistence farming making the Central African Republic one of the world’s least developed countries.
In 1960, Central African Republic gained independence from France sparking several periods of unrest related to political and military crises. Michael Djotadia, leader of the Seleka rebel group, has been behind much of the country’s instability. Djotadia was a trained civil servant who eventually turned into a rebel leader attempting to overthrow President Francois Bozize, president of Central African Republic. In the early 2000s, Djotadia was appointed by President Bozize to a diplomatic post in Sudan, but the two had a falling out, and Djotadia launched a rebellion in 2005. Within the next year, Bozize arrested Djotadia and put him into exile. Djotadia, however, was released from exile after promising to make peace with Bozize. Following his release, Djotadia took revenge on Bozize and re-launched his rebellion. Currently, rebel groups are in control of the presidential palace and President Bozize is officially overthrown.
Central African Republic is presently suffering from severe poverty; the human rights violations that are occurring concern many. Thousands of people are victims of fighting between rebel groups who are armed with mortars and illegal weapons. Since 2005, at least 295,000 people have been forced out of their homes by the Seleka Rebels. As of mid 2012, 65,000 people were internationally displaced and 150,000 found refuge in Chad and Cameroon.
Rwanda is a small, land-locked country about the size of Maryland located near the center of Africa. It is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi. The country’s population is mainly made up of three ethnic groups: Hutu (85%), Tutsi (14%), and Twa (1%).
In 1990, Hutu extremists blamed the Tutsi for the country’s increasing social, economical, and political problems. The Tutsis were also blamed for supporting a Tutsi dominated rebel group called the Rwandan Patriotic Front. In 1992, Rwanda’s president, President Habyarima, used propaganda and other political resources to increase the divisions between the Hutus and the Tustsis. Two years later, a plane carrying President Habyarima, a Hutu, was shot down. Violence began immediately between the Hutu and the Tutsi in effort to destroy the entire Tutsi population. Any political leader who was capable of controlling the situation was murdered without delay. People who were Tutsi or suspected of being Tutsi were killed in their homes. Roadblocks were also set up in order to prevent anyone from fleeing.
About 200,000 people were involved in the perpetration of the genocide and about ¾ of the Tutsi population, 800,000 people, died. There were thousands of Hutus who opposed the genocide, and they were killed as well. The genocide finally ended approximately 100 days later when the Rwandan Patriotic Front defeated the Hutu and a new president, President Kagame, took control.
Despite the devastating genocide that occurred, Rwanda has made great progress in terms of its developmental and economic growth. Recent surveys suggest that the poverty rate has dropped by 12% from 57% in 2006 to 45% in 2011. By 2020, Rwanda hopes to combat poverty by altering its economy’s focus from agriculture to a “modern, economic engine” dealing with investors and creating more employment opportunities.
Land of the Thunder Dragon, is landlocked by China and India in South Asia. Bhutanese refugees are descendants of Nepalese who immigrated to Southern Bhutan in the late 1800s. A "One Nation One People' policy was introduced in 1987. With the loss of rights and citizenship in 1990, many Nepali speaking people fled to Bhutan, where they lived in camps until the 2007 United Nations International Organization for Migration resettlement programs began.
Nepal is slightly larger than Arkansas. Landlocked, it is surrounded by India on three sides and China to the north. Kathmandu is the capital. Nepal, known for its scenic beauty, is home to eight of the worlds 10 highest peaks, including the tallest, Mount Everest (8848m). Rhododendron is the national flower.
In 1989, Burma changed its name to Myanmar. It is bordered by Thailand, Bangladesh, India, China, and Laos. Buddhism is the major religion.
There are more than 140 ethnic groups and seven states within the country. Most minority groups live along the borders and mountainous areas and suffer human rights violations. RAW members speak Karen and Karenni languages.
Myanmar has fertile delta valleys near the Irrawaddy River and densely forested mountains. There are over 100 species of bamboo. Flood and landslides are common during rainy season. Natural resources include timber, jade, zinc, natural gas and marble.
Other Countries Represented by Our Refugees