Most see internal solutions for bringing peace
NAIROBI -- Congo's border with Rwanda remains one of the deadliest conflict zones in Africa. Millions have perished in more than a decade of conflict, with more than 1,400 Congolese dying daily from disease and malnutrition and countless others as a consequence of rape and physical assault. Despite this grim reality, Congolese surveyed late last year were optimistic about the future of the region; a majority (63%) agree there can be peace in eastern Congo within the next 12 months.
Eastern Congo, unfortunately, has been the battleground for other countries' wars. Following the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda, militia flooded the border and attacked their Tutsi enemies from bases inside eastern Congo. Over the years, numerous militias have also plundered vast mineral reserves in the region, while the local population lives in squalor.
While Gallup could not interview people in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) because of security constraints, media reports document concern among people in the region about what will happen once U.N. peacekeepers leave as DRC President Joseph Kabila has requested. U.N. peacekeepers arrived in DRC in 1999 to help protect civilians and disarm and demobilize combatants, but the vast territory and lack of resources have hindered their role.
Congolese surveyed believe there can be an internal solution to the problems in eastern Congo, with residents most likely to spontaneously mention the government (51%) and the president (33%) when asked to name the party responsible for bringing peace. Despite its presence in the region for more than 10 years, relatively few Congolese view the United Nations as responsible for peace.
Many see Rwanda as the catalyst for unrest in eastern Congo. Few Congolese (11%) express confidence that the Rwandan government is actually working to bring peace in that region.
Despite the relative optimism that Congolese express about the possibility of peace in general, a vast majority of Congolese (73%) stated that they do not believe life will ever be the same in the eastern part of their country. Congolese living in rural areas are slightly more likely (75%) than urban Congolese (66%) to share this view, which could be a sign that life is still harder in rural areas.
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Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted Nov. 1-24, 2009, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, excluding the eastern regions of North and South Kivu, Ituri, and Haut-Uele because of insecurity. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.9 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.