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2003 chronology of events

Country Map - DRC
Democratic Republic of the Congo (IRIN)

A selected chronology of events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during 2003.

6 January: Rwandan-backed Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) rebel movement forms alliance with the Bunia-based Union des patriotes congolais pour la reconciliation et la paix (UPC-RP) of Thomas Lubanga in Ituri District, northeastern DRC. The agreement commits the two parties to "cooperate and support each other mutually in the domains of politics, military, and economy".

7 January: Monsignor Melchisedec Sikulu Paluku, the bishop of Beni-Butembo in northeastern DRC, accuses the Mouvement pour la liberation du Congo (MLC), headed by Jean-Pierre Bemba, and the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-National (RCD-N), led by Roger Lumbala, of cannibalism.

7 January: Government launches its national diamond certification programme as part of its participation in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which took effect on 1 January 2003.

8 January: The UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, announces that it has opened investigations into reports of cannibalism and human rights violations by rebels near the northeastern town of Beni, North Kivu Province.

15 January: MONUC confirms that rebel groups in the northeast of the country have engaged in acts of cannibalism.

15 January: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello demands that sanctions be imposed on members of rebel groups that have engaged in cannibalism in northeastern DRC.

16 January: Government asks UN Security Council to establish a UN criminal court to try rebel groups accused of committing atrocities, including genocide, in the northeast of the country.

17 January: One killed, five wounded as Red Cross vehicle is ambushed by unidentified assailants near Uvira, eastern DRC.

21 January: DRC Health Minister Mashako Mamba reports that "more than" 2,000 people have died as the result of an influenza epidemic that has been sweeping across parts of the country for one-and-a-half months. Affected areas are Thuapa, in the south of Equateur Province, and Inongo, near Lake Mai-Ndombe, in the north of Bandundu Province.

23 January: The first round of a massive measles vaccination campaign is launched in Ituri, following reports in December 2002 of more than 300 measles cases, resulting in the deaths of 16 children.

24 January: In adopting resolution 1457, UN Security Council unanimously approves a new six-month mandate for the panel of experts investigating the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth in the DRC.

25 January: Indigenous people - commonly referred to as pygmies - from the Ituri District of Province Orientale in northeastern DRC demand that the Kinshasa government create a criminal tribunal to hold accountable those who have committed crimes against them, including murder and cannibalism.

27 January: Authorities in Kinshasa open a judicial inquiry into massacres and cannibalism alleged to have been perpetrated by the MLC and its ally, RCD-N, in Orientale Province.

27 January: A commercial cargo barge with 550 mt of goods arrives in Kisangani in northeastern DRC from the capital, Kinshasa, the first to do so after four years of suspended river traffic due to war.

30 January: EU parliament calls for concrete measures to punish persons found guilty of pillaging the resources of the DRC, including an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into "acts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Africa and elsewhere, where such acts were perpetrated to illegally secure natural resources, such as conflict diamonds and timber".

31 January: UN World Food Programme (WFP) begins an emergency operation to airlift food to some 115,000 people in the town of Bunia, northeastern DRC, who have been displaced by fighting.

2 February: Tornado sweeps through town of Yumbi, northwestern Bandundu Province in western DRC. About 17 dead, 4,000 injured, and at least 1,700 families rendered homeless.

4 February: RCD-Goma announces a general amnesty for Mayi-Mayi militias. "They will not be charged with any crime whatsoever. Rather, it is out of our hope for reconciliation and an end to hostilities that we are offering this amnesty," says RCD-Goma spokesman, Jean-Pierre Lola Kisanga.

10 February: DRC President Joseph Kabila and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni reaffirm their commitment to the Luanda accord of 6 September 2002 following a two-day summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The accord provides for the total withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the DRC and the normalisation of relations between Kinshasa and Kampala.

7 February: An estimated 8,000 Mayi-Mayi militiamen, accused of cannibalism, are disarmed in the Haut Lomami District of southern Katanga Province.

15 February: Kampala and Kinshasa agree in the Angolan capital, Luanda, on modalities for the implementation of the Ituri Pacification Commission and for the withdrawal of Ugandan military forces remaining in northeastern DRC.

17 February: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appoints Behrooz Sadry as Deputy Special Representative for the DRC, in charge of operations and management of MONUC. He joins Deputy Special Representative Lena Sundh of Sweden, who is in charge of the political, humanitarian, human rights, and gender aspects of the mission.

18 February: Second round of a massive measles vaccination campaign is launched in Ituri.

20 February: After 18 months of work and 71 hearings, the Belgian Senate commission on the exploitation of natural resources in DRC concludes that no illegal acts were committed by the people and companies investigated. Opposition senators refuse to endorse the text, saying that the recommendations "without any content" are aimed at protecting "Belgian political and economic interests in the region".

22 February: RCD-Goma renews its call for an independent inquiry into the November 2002 killings in Ankoro, a village in the southeastern Katanga Province of the DRC. The killings were allegedly perpetrated by the Forces armees congolaises (FAC), the government army. Figures on dead and displaced vary greatly.

22 February: The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) launches a campaign to provide supplemental Vitamin A to some 12 million children aged six to 59 months nationwide. The Vitamin A the children will receive during this campaign will supplement an earlier dose received in July 2002 during National Immunisation Days (NIDs).

23 February: UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) launches a massive seeds and tools distribution programme aimed at 266,500 vulnerable households in 17 of the country's provinces.

24 February: All MONUC flights to Bunia are suspended after one of MONUC's helicopters is fired on.

27 February: A commission of inquiry consisting of members of human rights NGOs and the DRC Human Rights Ministry convenes in the city of Mbuji-Mayi, Kasai Oriental Province, to investigate the deaths of miners who died on 21 February under suspicious circumstances in the mines of the Miniere de Bakwanga (Miba), the national mining company.

2 March: In an effort to defuse rising tensions between them, the UPC rebel movement based in Bunia signs an accord with the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF).

5 March: A commission of inquiry comprising members of human rights NGOs and the DRC Human Rights Ministry report that nine illegal miners - not 25, as had been claimed by mining colleagues and human rights activists - died on 21 February in mines in the city of Mbuji-Mayi.

5 March: A 13-ship convoy carrying 626 mt of food aid from WFP arrives in Ankoro, Katanga Province, to benefit some 67,000 people who had been "in urgent need" of food aid since December 2002, according to World Vision International, the NGO responsible for distribution of the goods.

6 March: The UPDF and allied Lendu and Ngiti militiamen oust the UPC from Bunia.

6 March: Parties to the inter-Congolese dialogue agree to a programme for the drafting of a constitution and for a future unified army for a period of a national transitional government eventually leading to national democratic elections in the DRC, following 11 days of discussions held in Pretoria, South Africa.

18 March: Delegates of the Ugandan and DRC governments, different rebel groups, and ethnic militias operating in Ituri sign the Ituri Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in Bunia, under which the UPDF is to withdraw from the DRC on 24 April. The UPC, however, does not sign.

20 March: UN Security Council asks Secretary-General Kofi Annan to increase the presence of MONUC, especially in Ituri, where violence has escalated in the recent past. It also asks Annan to increase the number of personnel in MONUC’s human rights component "to enhance the capacity of the Congolese parties to investigate all the serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights perpetrated on the territory of the country since the beginning of the conflict in 1998".

20 March: A preparatory technical committee for the establishment of the long-awaited Ituri Pacification Commission convenes its first meeting in Bunia as a result of the Ituri Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. Formation of the commission has been delayed several times by fighting between various rebel factions and militias.

29 March: RCD-Goma appoints to its ranks four former army officers who had been condemned to death the assassination of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, including Bora Uzima Kamwanya, Georges Mirindi, John Bahati and Amuri Chap Chap. DRC State Prosecutor Luhonge Kabinda Ngoy calls the nominations "an act of provocation".

1 April: In Sun City, South Africa, DRC government and rebel groups unanimously endorse a transitional constitution to govern DRC for two years. They also endorse the global agreement signed in Pretoria on 17 December 2002.

2 April: In Sun City, South Africa, DRC government, rebel movements, political opposition parties and representatives of civil society agree to set up a transitional government to oversee democratic elections after two years. DRC President Joseph Kabila to retain his post, supported by four vice-presidents from rebel groups and the civilian opposition.

3 April: Hundreds killed in Drodro massacre, Ituri District.

4 April: Ituri Pacification Commission is inaugurated in Bunia. The 177-member commission includes representatives of the DRC, Uganda and Angola governments, MONUC, civil society bodies, a business people's association, political and military parties to the conflict in Ituri, and 90 grassroots communities that form the largest block of the commission.

5 April: Kabila promulgates the new transitional constitution agreed at Sun City.

7 April: Kabila is sworn in as the interim head of state of the DRC, to preside over a transitional government to be formed for a two-year period, leading to democratic elections.

8 April: International Rescue Committee (IRC) reports that conflict in the DRC has cost more lives than any other since World War II: IRC estimates that at least 3.3 million Congolese died between August 1998, when the war began, and November 2002. Most deaths are attributed to easily treatable diseases and malnutrition, and were often linked to displacement and the collapse of the country's health services and economy.

13 April: Ituri Pacification Commission adopts a series of interim measures to end hostilities and provide a provisional administration in Ituri District.

16 April: At least 70 people were killed during fighting in November 2002 between government forces and Mayi-Mayi militia in Ankoro, in northern Katanga province, MONUC says in its report.

25 April: Government announces abolition of the Cour d'ordre militaire (COM - Military Order Court), which has been widely criticised by national and international human rights organisations as failing to meet international fair trial standards or allow appeals to a higher or independent jurisdiction.

3 May: Longtime opposition politician Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma is elected by a segment of the political opposition to serve as one of four vice-presidents of a two-year transitional government under President Joseph Kabila.

6 May: Azarias Ruberwa Manywa, RCD-Goma secretary-general, is named as his movement's candidate for the fourth and final vice-presidential post for a two-year national transition government, joining the three vice-presidential candidates already named: MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba; Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi, a close ally of DRC President Joseph Kabila; and Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma, a representative of the unarmed political opposition.

8 May: An aircraft carrying a government delegation sent to ease hostilities between ethnic militias in Ituri is hit by gunfire as it approaches Bunia airstrip, but manages to land safely in Entebbe, in neighbouring Uganda.

8 May: Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni hold talks in London - the fourth since tension between Rwanda and Uganda mounted after fighting two years earlier in Kisangani - aimed at easing tension between the two countries.

8 May: Air disaster when the rear doors of a cargo plane open shortly after takeoff from Kinshasa, sucking passengers to their death. The death toll is put somewhere between 60 and 170, but government spokesman Kikaya Bin Karubi says the toll "will never be known" because the passenger list was incomplete and survivors say the plane was overloaded.

10 May: Oxfam calls on UN to deploy a rapid reaction force to enforce peace in Bunia.

11 May: Two Red Cross volunteers - both wearing vests that clearly identified them as Red Cross personnel - are killed while carrying out humanitarian duties during fighting in Bunia. In April 2001, six International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) employees were murdered in the same region.

12 May: UPC takes control of Bunia after six days of fighting between rival ethnic militias.

14 May: Two UN military observers are confirmed to have been "savagely killed" in Mongbwalu, north of Bunia.

14 May: Ugandan government vows to take legal action against all individuals identified by the Ugandan Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) as having been involved in the plunder of DRC's natural resources. However, it said it would ignore all other allegations made by a UN expert panel.

16 May: Following a week of heavy fighting, five armed groups that have been involved in battles around the town of Bunia signed an agreement in Dar es Salaam to cease hostilities and re-launch the beleaguered Ituri peace process.

21 May: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International appeal to UN to authorise the deployment of a rapid reaction force to protect civilians in Ituri District, saying MONUC has been unable to protect civilians adequately.

22 May: RCD-Goma withdraws from discussions of the follow-up committee of the inter-Congolese dialogue, accusing the government of trying to keep the post of head of army for itself, and of wanting to control the majority of military regions.

25 May: Visiting Bunia, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, calls for firm and urgent UN intervention to stop further massacres.

29 May: Swearing-in of a transitional government is postponed because of an argument over the composition of the national army.

30 May: RCD-Goma announces it will rejoin negotiations leading to the formation of national transitional institutions in the DRC.

30 May: UN Security Council Resolution 1484 authorises deployment of an interim emergency multinational force in Bunia, until 1 September. France offers to lead the force, and will contribute 750 troops, with the remainder to come from other EU countries. Belgium, Britain, Portugal and Sweden indicate they will contribute to the EU component of the force.

31 May: Dozens of ethnic Hema civilians are killed and dozens others are reportedly abducted by ethnic Lendu militias in Tchomia, 45 km east of Bunia.

2 June: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommends a one-year extension of MONUC's mandate, and calls for an increase in MONUC's authorised military strength from 8,700 to 10,800.

4 June: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appoints two special envoys to help with the formation of a unified national army: Moustapha Niasse, who had served as Annan's special envoy for the DRC peace process, and Gen Maurice Baril of Canada, who had served as a military advisor to the UN.

6 June: An advance unit of French soldiers arrives in Bunia to prepare for the arrival of an estimated 1,400 multinational peace enforcement troops.

10 June: ICRC completes what it termed a "vast operation" to help some 35,000 civilians in Ankoro, northern Katanga Province, ravaged by fighting at the end of 2002.

11 June: EU Council agrees to deploy troops as part of the 1,500-strong multinational force, codenamed "Artemis", requested by UN Security Council Resolution 1484.

11 June: Rival opposition movements and the government assure a visiting UN Security Council delegation that they will form a transitional government by 30 June.

13 June: UN World Health Organisation (WHO) expresses concern over the spread of cholera in Kasai Oriental Province, central DRC, with a high risk of the epidemic spreading to the neighbouring province, Kasai Occidental. The most affected provinces are Sud Kivu, where 1,387 cases including 26 deaths had been reported; Katanga - 7,557 cases with 221 deaths, and Kasai Oriental, where 3,098 cases and 89 deaths had been reported.

16 June: Azarias Ruberwa is appointed leader of RCD-Goma, replacing Adolphe Onusumba Yemba, who had held the post since October 2000. Ruberwa, one of four vice president-designates of a national transitional government, had previously served as RCD-Goma secretary-general, also since October 2000. Ruberwa becomes the fourth head of the RCD-Goma movement after Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, Emile Ilunga Kalambo and Onusumba, who would be appointed to other functions within the movement.

16 June: President Joseph Kabila launches a nationwide campaign to promote the registration of births in the country, to coincide with the annual Day of the African Child.

19 June: RCD-Goma captures Lubero, North Kivu Province, as a ceasefire deal for the region is signed in Bujumbura among all parties to the conflict: RCD-Goma, the Kinshasa government and the RCD-Kisangani/Mouvement de liberation (RCD-K/ML) to which Kinshasa is allied.

19 June: Two UN military observers are abducted by unidentified assailants in Beni, North Kivu Province. They are released unharmed on 21 June.

25 June: Multinational force sets boundaries beyond which all armed militias must withdraw.

26 June: Former prime minister, Leon Kengo wa Dondo, is charged by a Brussels court with money laundering during the reign of late President Mobutu Sese Seko.

30 June: Kabila names his transitional government to lead the country out of nearly five years of war to democratic elections in 2005.

1 July: Amos Namanga Ngongi, Special Representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the DRC, completes his nearly two-year mandate, to be replaced by US diplomat William Lacy Swing.

6 July: MONUC announces that a 3,800-strong force will be deployed in Ituri District and other locations, to ensure the 1 September handover from the French-led multinational peace enforcement mission.

12 July: Uganda says it will reopen investigations into the murder of six employees of the ICRC that took place in April 2001 in Ituri District. At the time of the murders, Ituri was under the control of the Ugandan army.

15 July: EU high representative for the common foreign and security policy, Javier Solana, calls on UN Security Council to authorise a stronger mandate for MONUC similar to that of the EU-led multinational peace enforcement mission deployed to Bunia.

16 July: First elements of a planned 3,800-strong UN peacekeeping task force for Ituri District arrive in Bunia.

16 July: The ICC selects Ituri District as "the most urgent situation" under its jurisdiction to be addressed.

17 July: The four vice-presidents of the DRC's two-year transitional government take the oath of office in Kinshasa.

18 July: Transitional government officials designated by the DRC's two principal former rebel movements - RCD-Goma and the MLC - refuse to take the oath of office because it included swearing allegiance to President Joseph Kabila.

21 July: The mutilated bodies of 22 civilians, primarily women and children, are discovered by a patrol of the EU-led multinational force in Nizi, a village 22 km north of Bunia.

23 July: Rival ethnic militias in Ituri agree to disarm, withdraw to rear bases and to participate in joint verification exercises.

24 July: 11 Congolese civilians murdered near the town of Baraka in southeastern South Kivu Province, allegedly by fighters belonging to an alliance of the Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD), a rebel group from neighbouring Burundi; Rwandan former military (ex-FAR); and Congolese Mayi-Mayi militias in the area.

24 July: RCD-Goma and MLC transitional government officials take their oath of office in Kinshasa, after a modification is made in the pledge of allegiance.

25 July: During its first meeting, the newly-inaugurated ministers of the transitional government resolve to make resolution of the conflict in Ituri District a major priority, with a consultative committee to be sent to the area imminently.

25 July: An estimated 7.3 million children under five years old to be vaccinated against polio in some 200 health zones in the provinces of Bandundu, Bas-Congo, Equateur, Kasai Oriental and Occidental, Katanga, Maniema, North and South Kivu.

28 July: UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution giving MONUC a stronger mandate and increasing its authorised strength from 8,700 to 10,800 troops. The council also extends the mission's mandate for another year, until 30 July 2004, and institutes a 12-month arms embargo against foreign and Congolese armed groups in the east of the country.

28 July: Under the IMF and World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, DRC's total external debt is due to be reduced by about 80 percent - approximately US $10 billion in nominal terms (or US $6.3 billion in net present value terms).

30 July: Six people - five men of Lendu ethnicity, and one woman of Nande ethnicity - are stoned to death by angry residents of Bunia.

1 August: RCD-Goma says it is willing to make concessions regarding the partition of responsibilities for newly-created military regions.

3 August: First commercial river convoy of eight barges reaches Kisangani from Kinshasa since the installation of a national transition government on 30 June.

6 August: Former belligerent parties reach agreement on the division of military zones, which will enable Kabila to name the chief of staff of the unified national army as well as other leaders of the military forces.

18 August: Controversy over military leader nominees resolved as RCD-Goma submits a revised list of candidates for top military posts; the previous list of candidates proposed by RCD-Goma provoked an outcry from Kabila and other members of the former Kinshasa government, as well as from the International Committee to Accompany the Transition (known by its French acronym CIAT) because of its inclusion of individuals suspected of involvement in the assassination of late president Laurent-Desire Kabila, Joseph's father, on 16 January 2001.

19 August: Kabila names officers to lead the nation's unified national military, incorporating elements from all former armed rebel groups signatory to a national power-sharing accord, as well as Mayi-Mayi militias.

22 August: In a memorandum of understanding signed at the end of talks in Kinshasa, Ituri militias agree to work with the newly-inaugurated transitional government in restoring state authority across the region.

22 August: The National Assembly and Senate of DRC's two-year transitional government are opened by President Joseph Kabila and his four vice-presidents.

24 August: Burundian rebels of the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) allegedly kill at least a dozen people - mainly women and children - in Rusabagi, 85 km south of Bukavu in South Kivu Province.

26 August: Human rights activists criticise the appointment of military officials alleged to have been involved in massacres in Kisangani during hostilities that erupted in May 2002, including Gabriel Amisi (alias "Tango Fort") and Laurent Nkunda, both from the RCD-Goma former rebel movement.

26 August: Under Resolution 1501, UN Security Council authorises the EU-led multinational peace enforcement mission in Bunia to provide assistance to MONUC, as the former withdraws and the latter is reinforced and deployed in and around Bunia.

28 August: Kabila submits a written declaration of his wealth to parliament, in accordance with the national transition constitution that came out of the inter-Congolese peace and reconciliation dialogue.

28 August: New WWF census finds a 95-percent decline in the hippopotamus population in Virunga National Park, on the eastern border of the DRC, once home to the world's largest hippo population.

31 August: A failed mutiny takes place in Kisangani, Orientale Province.

31 August: UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the DRC, Iulia Motoc, says there are indications that genocide may have occurred in Ituri.

1 September: The French-led multinational force in Bunia hands over security duties to MONUC.

1 September: Installation of leaders of DRC's unified national military is postponed. Although no official reason is given, military sources says that some officers from the RCD-Goma former rebel movement, now party to a power-sharing national transitional government, have not yet arrived in Kinshasa.

5 September: The leadership of a newly unified national military is inaugurated in Kinshasa, although some debate remains as to what the new force will be called.

9 September: DRC military chief of staff Lt-Gen Liwanga Mata Nyamunyobo summons three officers of the RCD-Goma - Brig-Gen Laurent Nkunda, colonels Elie Gichondo and Erick Ruhorimbere, who had been named commander and deputy commanders, respectively, of three of the country's 10 military regions - to appear before the Military High Court (Haute Cour Militaire) for having refused to take part in the inauguration of the newly-unified national army.

9 September: Mayi-Mayi militias and soldiers of RCD-Goma begin reconciliation efforts in Burale, 60 km southeast of Bukavu in South Kivu Province.

15 September: MONUC arrests about 100 people, including two major figures of the UPC, after fighting erupts during a protest of MONUC's "Bunia Without Arms" campaign.

17 September: Military officials and members of parliament of RCD-Goma demand a general amnesty and security guarantees before reporting to Kinshasa.

20 September: The national unity government announces it will be taking a number of measures to fight increased crime in Kinshasa and other cities across the country.

23 September: Two rival militias in Bunia - the primarily Hema Union des patriotes congolais (UPC), and the primarily Lendu Front des Nationalistes Integrationnistes (FNI) - agree to allow the free circulation of people and goods in the region.

26 September: The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC says it will investigate the role of businesses operating in Europe, Asia and North America in fuelling crimes against humanity in the DRC.

28 September: Veteran opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi returns to Kinshasa after a self-imposed two-year exile spent largely in South Africa, but says he will not take part in the country's transitional government.

29 September: Former rebel groups now party to the two-year power-sharing government of national unity are authorised to function as political parties while awaiting such a law to be enacted by the National Assembly.

1 October: An agreement to cease hostilities between forces of Gen David Padiri Bulenda's Mayi-Mayi militia and the RCD-Goma former rebel movement - both now parties to the national power-sharing government - is signed in Shabunda, South Kivu Province. The accord calls for an immediate ceasefire, the free circulation of persons and goods, and the creation of a follow-up commission comprising three members from each of the two sides to monitor implementation of the agreement.

2 October: Citing an inadequate number of domestic latrines and poor access to potable water as primary causes, the International Federation of the Red Cross warns of recurring outbreaks of cholera in Kasai Oriental Province and the city of Mbuji-Mayi, in particular.

6 October: At least 55 people, most of them women and children, are killed in the Kashele area of Ituri District.

6 October: 16 civilians, primarily women, killed during an attack on the village of Ndunda, 30 km north of the town of Uvira, South Kivu Province. Witnesses tell MONUC that the killings were carried out by a group of 20 who spoke Kirundi, the national language of neighbouring Burundi.

8 October: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni declares that his country would not be drawn back into conflict in the DRC, regardless of whichever Ugandan rebels were using instability in the country's eastern provinces as a cloak for their activities.

9 October: Ituri militias agree to the cantonment of their forces, a promise they have made on previous occasions.

9 October: Eleven children are killed and 73 injured, 25 severely, when lightning strikes their school in the village of Bikoro, some 128 km south of the town of Mbandaka in northwestern DRC.

10 October: First permanent deployment of MONUC forces beyond the town of Bunia begins.

16 October: Government says it will no longer tolerate the presence on its national territory of elements of the Rwandan former army (ex-FAR) and Rwandan Hutu former militias (Interahamwe) who fled their country into neighbouring DRC after playing a major role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

20 October: Reporters Without Borders/Reporters sans frontieres (RSF), an international media watchdog NGO, ranks the DRC among the 50 countries "that respect press freedom least".

21 October: The International Committee to Accompany the Transition (known by its French acronym, CIAT) overseeing the two-year transitional process in the DRC chides the national unity government for a wide range of delays which, it said, "risked jeopardising the holding of nationwide elections within the next 24 months".

22 October: Rwandan foreign minister Charles Muligande announces that his government will set up a commission of inquiry to investigate two cases of alleged illegal exploitation of the DRC's natural resources by Rwandan companies and individuals.

23 October: Mbusa Nyamwisi, DRC minister for regional cooperation, confirms reports of the presence of Ugandan rebel training camps in his country's northeastern North Kivu Province, in the region between Beni and Kasindi.

28 October: UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other forms of Wealth of the DRC releases its final report, listing names of individuals, companies and governments involved in the plunder of gems and minerals, and recommending measures to be taken to curb the exploitation.

29 October: Following several weeks of being denied access to RCD-Goma-controlled military camps in North Kivu, which it hoped would enable verification of the alleged presence of Rwandan troops on DRC territory, MONUC is granted access by North Kivu Governor Eugene Serufuli.

30 October: Magistrates begin an indefinite nationwide strike, demanding better pay and working conditions, as well as greater independence of action.

3 November: DRC's national programme against AIDS (Programme national de lutte contre le sida) says the prevalence of HIV/AIDS may have reached 20 percent in certain regions of the country.

5 November: MONUC accuses government of blocking an inquiry into the crash landing of a cargo plane believed to have been transporting illegal arms to groups in South Kivu Province. The plane was reported to have crashed the previous week at the Kamina military base, in central Katanga Province.

7 November: UK announces what it terms a "major increase" in financial aid to the DRC over the period 2003-06, "so long as the transition process remains on track".

7 November: The International Court of Justice postpones hearings scheduled to open on 10 November in the case concerning "Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)", at the request of the DRC government. Uganda said it supported the DRC's proposal.

15 November: Voluntary return to neighbouring Rwanda of 103 members of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR - Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda), including FDLR leader Paul Rwarakabije, after almost a decade in the DRC.

19 November: UN agencies and partner NGOs request US $187 million to provide protection and aid to populations in the DRC in 2004, under the Consolidated Appeal Process.

22 November: Some 2,000 people associated with Mayi-Mayi militias are demobilised in Kindu, eastern DRC, to either return to civilian life or to be integrated into the national army.

25 November: Kabila reinstates 315 magistrates sacked en-masse in 1998 for striking over pay and independence of the judiciary.

25 November: Between 100-200 people perish when a ferry collides with a fishing boat on Lake Mai-Ndombe, some 50 km from the town of Inongo, in Bandundu Province.

27 November: DRC and Rwanda recommit themselves to complete the repatriation of Rwandan Interahamwe militia and former soldiers in the Congo within a year.

27 November: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's younger brother – Reserve Force commander and army representative in parliament, Lt-Gen Salim Saleh – resigns amid persistent allegations that he spearheaded his country's plunder of natural resources in neighbouring DRC during nearly five years of Ugandan occupation.

11 December: Journaliste en danger (JED), a national media watchdog NGO in the DRC, reports an "improving situation" with regard to freedom of the press in the country.

11 December: UN Security Council urges the transitional national government to adopt a national disarmament, demobilization, reintegration (DDR) programme, and to accelerate reform of the armed and police forces.

14 December: MONUC begins repatriating 250 Ugandan ex-combatants from rebel movements opposed to the Ugandan government, along with 147 dependents. MONUC hails the return as a "breakthrough in the normalisation of relations between Uganda and Congo", adding that it would be useful in convincing other Ugandan rebels still at large in eastern DRC to return.

15 December: UNICEF and the government launch a national campaign to promote education of all girls.

31 December: Maj-Gen Mountaga Diallo retires after nearly four years as MONUC Force Commander.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

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