Intensified by the fall of the Berlin wall and the international
pressure to move towards democratisation, anti-
Mobutu sentiments began to boil from the end of the
1980s and eventually exploded into mass rioting and looting
in many cities in September 1991. In December 1992,
unpaid soldiers rioted again and pillaged the towns of
Kisangani, Goma and Kolwesi, subjecting the population
to heavy military harassment.
The subsequent economical decline and the withdrawal
of foreign support caused a near collapse of effective
health services in Zaire. Due to a crucial lack of drugs
and medical supplies, the poorer part of the population
was left with little, if any, access to health care services.
In the same year, ethnic tensions between the Hunde and
the Banyarwanda started to worsen in the Masisi plains
of North Kivu.
The Banyarwanda, both Hutus and Tutsis,
had migrated from Rwanda to North Kivu from the 1940s
until 1955 as labour force to work in the Masisi plantations.
Since then the new immigrants had been occupying
the lands traditionally used by the local Hunde, Nande
and Nyanga ethnic groups for hunting. In addition to the
rapid economic success of the Banyarwanda, competition
for control of the land provoked a strong resentment
among the local ethnic groups. Political conflicts, combined
with continuing clashes over land, created a highly
© Chris Keulen
Click on image for larger version.